Is Any Gambling Legal in Washington D.C.?
Yes. However, the types of gambling that are legal in Washington D.C. are limited when compared to many of its neighboring states.
You will not find any casinos in Washington D.C. This includes tribal casinos. Casinos are not permitted in Washington D.C. in any form. The closest thing to casino games in the state are video lottery terminals, which are closer to video scratch off tickets than they are to slots. These terminals are only found in some D.C. Lottery agent locations.
Washington D.C. does have a lottery which was first created in 1982. They offer a wide range of lottery games, including scratch-off tickets, D.C. Keno, and a simulated horse racing game called Race2Riches.
Charitable gaming is legal in Washington D.C. and is the only place you’ll find legal casino games. Charitable casino night fundraisers are allowed along with charitable bingo, raffles and poker games. Commercial bingo games are not allowed and are illegal.
In 2010 online casinos were nearly made legal in Washington D.C. Actually they were made legal for a short time after being listed as a small print addition to budget amendments. However, before any online gambling sites or infrastructure could be launched the legalization was appealed and online gambling outlawed once again.
Social gaming is also considered to be illegal in Washington D.C. While attending is home poker game is not illegal, hosting one, or promoting a poker game is illegal. Despite these social gaming laws there is no history of Washington D.S. authorities cracking down on low-stake poker games in the basements of residents.
In 2018 Washington D.C. joined several states by legalizing sports betting. Under regulations released in 2019 sports betting establishments were allowed to setup in the arenas and stadiums of major sports teams. These arena-based sports books would have a monopoly over sports betting in their areas, but other sports betting venues would be allowed in other parts of the city in hotels, bars and restaurants.
The sports betting bill also allowed mobile betting. Sports betting was set to go live in Washington D.C. in the spring of 2020, but this launch was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Washington DC Laws Pertinent to Online Poker
Law related to gambling in Washington D.C. are found under section 22-1701 of their statutes. Under this section gambling is defined as “playing any game of chance for money or property.” According to law makers this definition is broad enough to cover online gambling. Poker is considered a game of chance, making it illegal under the law.
Lawmakers tried to sneak the legalization of online gambling into budget concessions in 2010. The laws were initially passed and made online gambling legal in Washington D.C. before the state got cold feet and repealed them in 2012.