Sports Wagering Bill
On March 25, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2638, which amends several laws and regulatory and licensing requirements/crimes in the Gambling Act, and now authorizes sports wagering subject to the terms of tribal-state gaming compacts. Tribes' Class III gaming compacts will need to be amended; new Commission rules will need to be adopted; and any new sports wagering licenses will need to be approved before tribes can offer sports wagering at tribal casinos.
What's the latest?
July 2020: Commissioners vote unanimously to initiate rulemaking to facilitate the implementation of sports wagering.
December 2020: Prelicensing rule language was drafted. The proposed prelicensing rules are meant to authorize the agency's prelicensing investigation process for future sports wagering licenses. Our agency's goal is to allow individuals and/or organizations the ability to get a head start on our prelicensing investigation process through these rules. These rules are not intended to become a sports wagering license or give the individual or organization a license at this time. The final draft sports wagering license rules are still part of tribal-state compact negotiations and any final sports wagering rules will be forthcoming and publicly available in the future.
January 2021: The agency filed the proposed prelicensing rules with the Office of the Code Reviser on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 (WSR 21-03-072).
February 2021: Sports Wagering Pre-licensing Investigation Rules are passed with an effective date of March 29, 2021
April-May 2021: The Gambling Commission and fourteen Tribes (see above) announce they have reached a tentative agreement for sports wagering compacts.
June 2021: The Gambling Commission filed draft language with the Office of the Coder Reviser on June 23, 2021 (WSR 21-13-165). The proposed rules address the following areas consistent with the Gambling Act and recent negotiated tribal-state compact amendments: 1) licensing and regulation, 2) agency funding, 3) money laundering and criminal enforcement, 4) sport and gambling integrity, and 5) responsible gambling.
July 2021: Final action was taken on rule changes addressing licensing and regulation and agency funding, consistent with the Gambling Act and recently negotiated tribal-state compact amendments (i.e. those changes proposed to chapter 230-03 WAC, chapter 230-05 WAC, and chapter 230-06 WAC). Commission staff will continue working with stakeholders on draft language to address money laundering and criminal enforcement, sport and gambling integrity, and responsible gambling (i.e. draft chapter 230-19 WAC).
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of sports wagering is legal?
Sports wagering is legal at Tribal casinos with amended Class III compacts following the passage of House Bill 2638 in March 2020.
In 1973, when the Gambling Act was first passed, 100-square sports pool boards were authorized. Bracket pools, office sports pools, and fantasy sports have never been authorized as gambling activities in Washington State and are illegal.
How many tribal casinos in Washington offer retail sportsbooks?
Ten casinos currently offer retail sports wagering at their facility. Other tribes are expected to start offering sports wagering in the near future.
Are tribal sportsbooks allowed to accept wagers through a mobile app and/or the Internet?
Washington’s sports wagering law and approved tribal-state compact amendments allow for mobile sports wagering provided that the wager is placed and accepted at a tribe's gaming facility only while the customer placing the wager is physically present on the premises of that tribe's gaming facility. The specifics on betting through mobile apps or the Internet and where those wagers can be placed while at a tribal casino will be determined by each tribe..
What events and wagers are allowed under Washington’s new sports wagering law?
Washington’s sports wagering law authorizes sports wagering on all professional sports and events, Olympics or international sports. Sports wagering is not allowed on minor league sports, in-state collegiate sports and esports. The official catalog of sports and events, can be reviewed on the Authorized Sports Wagering Menu.
I am a sports wagering business wishing to enter the Washington market, how can I start the license application process?
Sports wagering vendor applications are available online through Secure Access Washington (SAW).
What is the cost of a sports wagering license?
Sports Wagering Major Vendor - $65,000 annually
Sports Wagering Mid-Level Vendor - $10,000 annually
Sports Wagering Ancillary Vendor - $5,000 annually
The applicant will also be responsible for the cost of the licensing investigation.
How do I know if my sports pool is legal (RCW 9.46.0335)?
Sports pools are allowed under Washington state law as long as: (1) the board is based on a single athletic event, (2) the board is divided into 100 equal squares, (3) numbers representing game scores are randomly assigned to squares, and (4) you must charge no more than $1 per square. Only one sports board is allowed per sporting event, per business or party. Both businesses and individuals can conduct sports boards within strict limitation.
Is bookmaking (sports book) legal in Washington?
No. "Bookmaking" means accepting bets upon the outcome of future contingent events, as a business or in which the bettor is charged a fee or "vigorish" for the opportunity to place a bet. This is illegal and would be considered professional gambling. Professional gambling statutes range from first degree (class B felony) to third degree (gross misdemeanor) depending on several factors, including the amount of money and persons involved.
Can I bet on my favorite horse?
Bets placed on horses follow different laws. For laws specific to betting on horse racing, please contact the Washington State Horse Racing Commission.
I won money on a sports bet but the bookie won't pay. What do I do?
If the bet was placed with a bookie, it is an illegal bet and you have no legal recourse; however, you can anonymously report the bookie and other illegal sports betting activity using our online tool.
Why can’t I play “free” sports betting apps?
This is a business decision made by the developer of the app. You should contact them.