The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

The gambling scene in Washington — what is its future?

The gambling scene in Washington — what is its future?

Things are looking up for fans of gambling in the United States of America. Many more states are warming to the idea of legalising sports, after US federal laws changed in 2018.

Elyse Woods
Jul 20, 2021

Table of Contents

Things are looking up for fans of gambling in the United States of America. Many more states are warming to the idea of legalising sports, after US federal laws changed in 2018. For sports fans, and gambling lovers, this is a huge win. But the states in which sports betting will be legalised benefit too — which is why so many are looking to take advantage to the change in laws. 

So, what is the current legal situation around gambling in the state of Washington? And how might it change in the future?\

Read on to find out more. 

A bit of background

2018 was a huge year for the sports betting industry in the US. It was during this year that the Supreme Court struck down a federal law created in 1992 that banned sports betting across many of the states in the country. Nevada was, at the time, the only state where an individual could legally place a bet on sports. And while the ruling did not legalise sports gambling across the country, it did give individual states the power to decide whether they’d want to legalise it or not.

Following news of the legalisation, many states moved quickly, the first being Delaware where three casinos in the state allowed sports betting from early June of that year. New Jersey followed suit, with Governor Phil Murphy the first customer to make a bet in that month. Since legalisation, Atlanta City has become a major hub for sports betting. 

The fifth state to legalise sports wagers was West Virginia, with the Hollywood Casino being the first place to welcome bets on games. Many other states have followed suit over the past few years — driving even further interest in sports betting.

The state of Washington on gambling

Washington State has some of the strictest rules when it comes to gambling across the country. The only space where gambling is prohibited is across casinos owned and operated by the 29 federally recognised tribes across Washington state. All these casinos offer games like craps, roulette, slots, blackjack, video poker and pull tabs, while only some have baccarat, poker, pai gow poker, three-card poker, Caribbean stud poker, ultimate Texas hold em, Spanish 21, four card poker, keno, off-track betting, and bingo.

Most of them operate on a 24-hour basis. Some car rooms are also legal but there are less than 20 across the state. Washington has very strict rules when it comes to online gambling, which is illegal. While there have been attempted bills in favour of casinos online, nothing has come to fruition. Washington was not one of the states that embraced the sports betting laws when they were announced in 2018.  

The state of Washington on gambling

Benefits are being seen

Despite sports betting being illegal for so many years, there are a huge number of benefits to its legalisation for states. Regardless of whether its legal or not, sports betting has existed and would continue to exist even if the Supreme Court had not ruled in its favour in 2018.

The money that comes in from sports betting can have a huge impact on the economy of local areas, with more people travelling to enjoy the games and frequenting bars, restaurants, and shops. This of course leads to the growth of employment which is a bonus for the local economy too.

When it comes to taxes, sports betting can create a huge amount of tax for the state which can help them fund up-in-coming and current projects. Many countries are looking to places like the UK and Canada which have more relaxed laws around online casinos and sports betting. In Canada in particular, many Canadians enjoy playing at online casinos where they can try out new games or get involved in some of their old favourites.

In the UK, online gambling is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission which ensures that the industry is operating legally and safely for players across the regions. 

Benefits are being seen

The future for gambling in Washington?

Things are looking up for those who want to enjoy sports betting in the state of Washington. In late June 2021, the Washington State Gambling Commission unanimously approved a total of 15 tribal compact agreements. This will allow sports betting at tribal casinos across the state.

Many people in Washington have begun to see the benefits of legalising sports betting in the state including job creation, the economy boost and funding towards critical services that benefit Washington state as a whole. While online sports betting is unlikely to be on the cards any time soon, it is great news for those who love sports betting.

Most of the casinos are located within a reasonable distance to the high population centres — and we can expect many to travel to their favourite casino to wager on Olympic events, collegiate sports and major league pro sports.

Looking further ahead, it is likely as more states see the value in sports betting and legalising gambling activities, Washington State government may continue to relax their laws. But only time will tell.

Elyse Woods | As a product marketing manager, I've had the opportunity to help a variety of companies improve their sales margins and audience reaction to new products. Since I am passionate about product perception, marketing, and company statistics, I have brought commitment and positive results to the companies with which I have worked. What makes a product successful fascinates and inspires me.


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