Washington

Sports Betting in Washington

Washington State is a hard case to figure. On one hand, they’ve got very liberal gaming laws when it comes to ‘brick and mortar’ gaming. The result is nearly a hundred casinos throughout the state. On the other hand, they’ve shown little interest in allowing citizens the right to bet online. Until the 1988 Federal Indian Gambling Regulation Act the state’s gambling regulation developed in much the same way as many others. Parimutuel wagering on horse racing was legalized at the height of the sport’s popularity in 1933. Today, the only horse racing facility in the state is Emerald Downs though online betting via advance deposit sites like TVG is allowed. A state Gambling Commission was formed in 1973 and at the same time charity games like bingo, pull-tabs and raffles became legal. The Washington Lottery launched in 1982 and continues today with the usual assortment of draw and instant scratch off games.

Things started to get interesting in 1992 when the first compact was signed with a Native American tribe. This was followed by the addition of card rooms offering ‘non-banked’ games (eg: not played against the house) on non-tribal lands. The result has been an explosion in land based casino gaming across the state. The casino industry is so dynamic in Washington it’s hard to keep track of them all beyond the 35 or so Native American tribal properties. The tribal casinos offer a full menu of table games, slot machines and live poker.

The downside of such a strong tribal gaming presence is their political power to undermine efforts to expand the gambling freedoms of state residents. This is the biggest reason that it’s tough to see sports betting added to Washington’s gaming mix in the short term.

Sports Betting in Seattle

Washington State is a hard case to figure. On one hand, they’ve got very liberal gaming laws when it comes to ‘brick and mortar’ gaming. The result is nearly a hundred casinos throughout the state. The casino gambling scene is very similar to California with a mix of card rooms and Native American gaming properties that are allowed to open a wider range of games. The majority of these facilities are located in and around the Seattle area. On the other hand, they’ve shown little interest in allowing citizens the right to bet online in any form.

Until the 1988 Federal Indian Gambling Regulation Act the state’s gambling regulation developed in much the same way as many others. Parimutuel wagering on horse racing was legalized at the height of the sport’s popularity in 1933. Today, the only horse racing facility in the state is Seattle’s Emerald Downs though online betting via advance deposit sites like TVG is allowed. A state Gambling Commission was formed in 1973 and at the same time charity games like bingo, pull-tabs and raffles became legal. The Washington Lottery launched in 1982 and continues today with the usual assortment of draw and instant scratch off games.

Things started to get interesting in 1992 when the first compact was signed with a Native American tribe. This was followed by the addition of card rooms offering ‘non-banked’ games (eg: not played against the house) on non-tribal lands. The result has been an explosion in land based casino gaming across the state. The casino industry is so dynamic in Washington it’s hard to keep track of them all beyond the 35 or so Native American tribal properties. The tribal casinos offer a full menu of table games, slot machines and live poker.

Not surprisingly, the casino industry is focused on the Seattle-Tacoma area. This is particularly true of Native American properties as only six of the state’s 35 listed tribal casinos are outside the Seattle/Tacoma area. These properties vary in size from small gaming rooms to massive casino resorts. The largest is the Tulalip Casino in Marysville, Washington which is a half hour drive from downtown Seattle. The Tulalip property is listed as one of the top ten largest casino properties in the United States with 192,000 square feet of gaming space and 2,200 gaming machines.

Seattle area gamblers have another intriguing option to provide even more gaming choices. It’s just two hours from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia. Under the auspices of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation the province has an abundant variety of gambling available. In addition to the provincial lottery there is live harness racing in British Columbia along with 15 simulcasting facilities. The Hastings Race Course in Vancouver offers live thoroughbred racing as well as simulcasting. There are 15 casinos in British Columbia with a half dozen or so in the Greater Vancouver area. The largest of these is the Hard Rock Vancouver with over 1,000 slots, 70 table games, live poker and a race book. Sports betting is also available in Canada but single game wagering is NOT available. Players must wager on two or more games making it essentially a parlay card offering. There have been repeated efforts to approve single game wagering but to date nothing has been approved.

Sports Betting in Washington DC

Washington, DC doesn’t have much in the way of legal gambling. The good news is that outside of the city’s compact borders there’s several surrounding states with abundant gaming opportunities. The only real form of gambling (not counting charity casino nights or raffles) is the DC Lottery. The lottery was launched in 1982 and has been hugely popular with the city’s residents although its offerings are fairly pedestrian. The DC Lottery has a typical mix of draw games including the big multistate jackpots like MegaMillions and Power Ball. There’s also a wide array of scratch off instant games and a few other instant win contests printed at lottery terminals. Online offerings are limited to information like winning numbers and retailer directories. Parimutuel wagering is also legal but only for on-track betting. There’s one problem—there are no horse tracks.

Fortunately, there are plenty of gaming opportunities in surrounding states. The closest casino to DC is in Maryland—that’s the $1.2 billion MGM National Harbor which opened in late 2016. The property has over 3,000 video lottery terminals and 165 table games. There are four other casino properties in the state most within a 90 minute drive of DC. One of the most popular is the Live! Casino and Hotel in Hanover, MD. The Live! Property actually has more slot machines and gaming tables than the massive MGM National Harbor. Parimutuel wagering is also offered in Maryland. Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course is the home of the Preakness Stakes and Laurel Park is also a top level thoroughbred racing facility. There are also two harness tracks at Ocean Downs and Rosecroft Raceway. There are also eight simulcasting facilities throughout the state.

DC is also a reasonable drive to West Virginia and its variety of casino gambling options. The most popular destination for DC residents is the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races just 90 minutes away. It offers over 2,500 slot machines including video poker and video keno. They also offer the full compliment of table games, a poker room and most recently opened the first legal sports book in the state of West Virginia. It’s just over two hours to any of Delaware’s gaming properties—Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Casino and Raceway. All three properties offer slots, table games and poker plus Delaware has the distinction of the first state outside of Nevada to offer sports betting in the post-PASPA world. DC is also within striking distance (3.5 hours) from Atlantic City and its assortment of casino gaming properties with sports betting.

Most recently, there has been considerable talk about adding sports betting to the wagering mix in the District under the auspices of the lottery. An amendment to the lottery’s legislative guidance was introduced in mid-September 2018 and indicated a desire to provide both in-person and online wagering options.

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