Washington State Gambling Commission

The Washington State Gambling Commission regulates all gambling activities and establishments in the state of Washington, USA. In this article, you will read about the members and duties of the commission, the laws, and regulations they enforce, and more.
Washington State Gambling Commission Photo: Getty Images. All rights reserved. 2020

Besides the WA Gambling Commission license, the authority also performs inspections and investigates illegal gambling activities. Here, you can also learn which games are legalised in the WA state and what is Class III license. We also included a few land-based casinos you can visit on your next trip to Washington state. As far as online gambling, there are enough casinos WA players can pick from. We know that not all players and casinos play fair. Read on to find out what are the judicial procedures and the punishments for the violators.

WA State Gambling Commission – Members, Duties, and Authority

The Washington State Gambling Commission’s function is to be the state’s main gaming control board (GCB) and regulate everything related to gambling matters. The latest additions to the authorities of the WSGC include regulating the activity of the best US online gambling sites in 2021 in the Washington state. In the next paragraphs, you can learn more about the members of the commission, their duties, what are the main gambling laws in Washington state, and more.

WAGC Members

WA State Gambling Commission was established in 1973. There are five members in the organisation, all appointed by the governor after the consent of the Senate for a six-year term. There are also four ex officio members without a right to vote from the legislature. Two of them are from the senate (from the majority political party and the minority political party), two from the house of representatives (one from the majority political party and one member from the minority political party).

The four ex officio members are appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives for two years. The period could be longer if the appointee serves as a legislator. The five members and the four extra members can be reappointed unless they have committed a crime or an act that is contrary to their duties in the commission.

The WA State Gambling Commission members meet at time and place appointed by the governor of the state, but the principal office is in the state capitol. All decisions of the commission are taken with a quorum. Besides the commission, there are also Gambling Special Agents, duly sworn law enforcement officers that oversee the work of the gambling locations.

Interesting fact:
If you wish to become a Gambling Special Agent, you can the requirements and apply via the official Washington State Gambling Commission website.

All WSGC employees can be removed for malfeasance, inefficiency, or misfeasance in office. The charges must be specific and filed by the governor. After that, the written charges are sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who designates a tribunal composed of three judges of the Superior Court. The charges are heard and adjudicate before an action could be taken. Once the WSGC employee is removed, he or she can’t be reappointed.

WA Gambling Commission Duties

The gambling commission Washington state has is quite busy overseeing the activity of the gambling establishments in the state. They have 50+ legal casinos and card rooms, many more applying for licenses, and of course, the WSGC has to deal with all the illegal gambling. The latest duties are to oversee the online gambling and the best online casinos in the USA the WA players can play at.

Getting a WA State Gambling Commission license is achievable by anyone who wishes to develop a stable, safe, and legal gambling facility. The WSGC approves, revises, and removes gambling licenses and permits for amusement games, card room, gambling service, charitable and non-profit games, bingo, raffles, and more.

In addition to the Washington State Gambling Commission license, the authority has instructions and regulations covering the entire activity of the casinos and gaming rooms in the state. There are requirements for the buildings, employees, work uniforms, security, the games, and the gaming objects, and more.

All WSGC requirements are mandatory, and the members of the commission are obligated to comply. The WSGC agents perform inspections and audit of premises, books, paraphernalia, database, records, hardware, software, and electronic data storage devices. The commission also investigates all reports on irregular betting activities or suspicious activities.

WSGC Laws and Taxes

The law states that it is mandatory to pay a fee for a Washington State Gambling Commission license, for an expansion or a change of an existing license. In this state, all casinos are bound to pay taxes and contribute to the county as a WA state casino’s community impact benefit.

The activity of the WA State Gambling Commission follows the main gambling laws in the USA. Here are the main legislations all gambling establishments and gamblers in Washington state must follow:

  • Federal Gambling Laws
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
  • Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA)
  • The Interstate Wire Act
  • The Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)
  • The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)

Here, we should say that the laws also apply to the players. All gamblers also must pay tax on their winnings. Here we must say that all taxes in WA may differ depending on the county, city or town which collects a tax on the gambling activities.

Class III Indian Gaming Employee Certification

Interesting fact:
The revenue and tax money made at a tribal casino stay in Washington state and are used to benefit tribal and non-tribal communities.

Currently, there are 35 Native American owned casinos, owned by 25 tribes, and located across 15 counties. That is why the WSGC is working closely with the National Indian Gaming Commission and the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs. The tribal actions are under Federal jurisdiction and only federally recognized Indian tribes can conduct Class III gaming. The price of each license varies depending on the games, the casino wishes to offer.

The present-day legislation in Washington state gives greater freedom to the tribal casinos than it was in the history of Native American gaming in the USA. The tribes are allowed to offer online casino games, sports betting, electronic tribal lottery terminals, and more. Here, we will say that even though the gambling age in WA state is 18+ years, in many Indian casinos the players should be 21+ to play the casino games.

The standard WA State Gambling Commission license covers a wide range of games, their equipment, and even the rules of the games. Some of the most popular games in this list include blackjack, Red Dog, roulette, baccarat, craps, Pai Gow Poker, Sic-Bo, poker, keno, bingo, and more.

We should say that the games are legal only if played in licensed establishments. It is a violation to own slots, but an average Joe can own an antique slot machine, as long as it is not used in gambling activity (no money or monetary chips are needed to play the game). All promotional contests, bowling sweepstakes, bingo, raffles, and dice or coin contests where you win music, food, or beverage are legal.

The fans of golf can make sweepstakes. You can also bet at sports pools, amusement games, social card games, and punch-boards. The WA gambling commission does not oversee or regulate any fishing derbies, big game animals hunt or wild turkeys. That is done by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

On the border of legal vs illegal games is the sports wagering. The sports betting is legal only when the player places the wager himself (or herself) at a tribe’s gaming facility. If the player is nor physically present at the tribal casino while the bet is made, then the bets are considered illegal and therefore punishable.

The slots, video poker, pachinko, Pachislo machines, video pull-ups, and electronic games of chance are illegal and banned in the entire state of Washington. You can play one of them only at a tribal casino or at the best American-themed slots online operators.

All kinds of greyhound races and animal fights are banned and illegal. So is raising and training of animals that will be used in a fight.

WA State Gambling Crimes, Investigations, and Penalties

Getting a Washington State Gambling Commission license is the first step to even greater responsibilities. Besides the excellent gambling experience and the biggest online casino bonuses, casinos are bound to provide safe and secure gambling location for the players and their funds. Unfortunately, there are occasions when the operators do not have the best interest of the gamblers. Many players try to get a prize with illegal actions. All those activities are investigated, prosecuted, and the violations are punished accordingly.

WA State Casino Crimes and Illegal Activities

Some of the most common crimes and illegal activities of the casinos include activity without a licence, professional gambling without a licence, unlicensed ownership, and other administrative crimes. In addition to this, in the past, some locations have “rigged” games so that the house always wins or do not regulate their gambling devices regularly.

“Remember this. The house doesn’t beat the player. It just gives him the opportunity to beat himself.” Nick the Greek, The King of All Gamblers<

Other illegal casino actions are keeping gambling records, money damages, obstruction of the public servant, bribes, altering or mispresenting of information, fraud, deceit, and more. One of the most severely judged by the society and the institution’s actions is the omission of paying the taxes and therefore failure to contribute to the improvement of the community.

Player’s Gambling Crimes Punishable in WA State

The most popular gambling crime the players commit is cheating, underage gambling, and counting cards. Many private sectors and government organisations argue if counting the cards is a crime or a special skill of great minds. If you are curious about this topic, then you can check the article about the world’s most famous card counters.

Other crimes performed by gamblers include bribing, obstruction of a public servant, and taking part in illegal betting or gambling. Some of the trickiest ways of cheating include reducing or increasing the size of a bet after learning what will be the outcome of the event that is the subject of the bet. That includes past posting and pressing bets alike.

WSGC Investigations and Inspections

There are a strict investigation and inspection procedures created and performed by employees of the Gambling Commission Washington state. Most of the inspections are performed regularly and aim to evaluate the performance of the gambling establishment. When the WSGC agents work on reports for illegal gambling activity, the inspection is not announced in advance.

The WA State Gambling Commission’s agents are authorized to perform public or private investigations within the state and even outside of the state lines. If the investigation crosses the border of the state, the WSGC agents coordinate their actions with the local gambling authorities, Federal establishments, and related organisations across the border of WA state. If you are curious about how you can become a WSGC agent, you can find details on the commission’s job employment availabilities on its website.

WSGC Investigations and Court Trials

When the WSGC agents are done, the information of the investigation is given to the Commission or an administrative law judge. The administrative law judges (always appointed under chapter 34.12 RCW) may conduct hearings that are open or closed to the public. All evidence gathered during the investigation are presented, and the witnesses are heard. At the end of the hearing, the judge may deny the license or revoke an existing one.

When it comes to gambling crimes, they are also investigated and looked after by the commission and the state courts. The most frequent violations of the gambling laws in WA state by players include cheating attempts and not following the established legal gambling age in the US. Those cases usually have a standard and fast trial because the casinos provide video recordings where the player violates the rules.

Washington State Penalty for Gambling Violations

The WSGC and WA state punishments for illegal gambling activity and gambling crimes vary depending on the severity of the violation. The casinos face criminal charges for professional gambling that range from a gross misdemeanour to a class B felony. Depending on the case and the previous recorded illegal activities of the operator, the maximum penalties can range from 1 to 10 years in prison and/or fines of $5,000 to $20,000.

The WA State Gambling Commission and the judicial system of WA state consider the gamblers’ crimes a serious felony. Every case of a player involved in illegal gambling activity is examined separately, and the penalties are given according to the criminal activity laws in Washington state. The penalties for the players can vary from the prohibition of entering a gambling establishment (within certain borders), fines, probation, and in the most severe cases even time in prison.

Community Impact of the Washington Casinos

The first bingos and raffles in WA state were created as part of charity functions. The tradition continued even after the creation of the modern gambling laws. All operators of legal and licensed casinos and card rooms in WA state are obligated to contribute to the community development. This is regulated by the Gambling Commission Washington state has and is closely monitored all the time.

Seattle Skyline

One of the best casinos that are not located in Las Vegas is the Tulalip Casino in Tulalip, Washington state. The owners, just like any other casino proprietors in the Evergreen State, contribute to the local community buildings and charity organisations. Along with the winners’ taxes, part of the prizes also goes for good deeds. All this is diligently checked by the WSGC under the name of Community Impact Committee Accrual & Payment Verification.

Interesting fact:
The tax revenue and donations from the casinos can go to one or be spread amongst the Humane Society, the YMCA, Girl Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brother Big Sister, and more.

Speaking of numbers, up to 2% of the table game net receipts is paid to government agencies affected by casino work. The Tribal Lottery System pays up to 0.5% net receipts to non-profit or charitable organizations in WA. The casinos also take part in the fight against smoking by prohibiting this activity within 25 feet of all building entrances and 0.13% of Tribal Lottery System. The funds go to the government or non-profit or charitable organisations in WA and help the cessation, prevention, education, awareness, and treatment of smoking.

Last, but not least, 0.13% of Class III net receipts goes to dealing with problem gambling. The funds are also paid to the government or non-profit and charitable organisations in Washington state. A part of the resources is directed towards education, awareness, and treatment of gambling addiction. All legal casinos clearly show their support in this struggle in the gaming rooms, or with a note on the online casinos’ website.

Washington Casinos and Gambling Locations

All WA state land-based casinos, card rooms, and all other gambling locations require a Washington State Gambling Commission license to work. The visitor gamblers and WA state players can pick among over 50 casinos, and card rooms spread all around the state, 35 of which are Indian casinos. Most of the establishments offer fine dining, bars, and entertainment, while others top these offers by being part of resorts, resort and SPA, or a highly rated casino hotel.

Land-based WA State Casinos USA Top Online Casinos
Tulalip Resort Casino Sugar House
Snoqualmie Casino El Royale Casino
Northern Quest Resort and Casino BetMGM
Muckleshoot Casino Vegas Casino
Skagit Valley Casino Resort Unibet

Washington state is one of the few states in the USA that allows and regulates online casinos and gambling sites activity. There are many online gambling locations you can register at that are just as good as the New Jersey online casinos. The Washington State Gambling Commission monitors and regulates their activity and issues licenses and permissions for legal gambling.

In addition to that, the online casinos in WA state are regulated under the Tribal Gaming laws, the Federal gambling laws, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the Interstate Wire Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and more. That is so, because just like the best online casinos in Pennsylvania, the gambling sites in Washington state are owned and operated by Native American tribes.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Washington State Gambling Commission is the main gambling regulatory organ in the state of Washington, USA. We gave you information about the commission’s activities and what is considered legal gambling in this state. Now, we are going to answer the most often asked questions about the commissions and the gambling licenses in WA state.

🧐 Is gambling illegal in Washington state?

No. The Washington State Gambling Commission has strict rules on which games are legal. You can check the list of legal gambling games in our article. If you read on, you will find out where you can play legally. Few games are illegal, and you should avoid regardless of the potential prize.

👀 Is online gambling legal in WA state?

Yes. The WA State Gambling Commission oversees and allows online gambling. That gaming activity is permitted under special rules and circumstance. In our article, you can find out more about the preferred by the WA players online casinos. We also gave you some of the best land-based casinos in Washington state.

🦅 Who can own casino in Washington state?

Companies and Native American tribes are the main owners of casinos in WA state. The Gambling Commission Washington state has created detailed requirements towards the gambling locations. You can read more about it in the designated section in our article and find out what regulations apply to the existing casinos.

🦝 What are the penalties for gambling crimes in Washington state?

The Gambling Commission Washington state lists rules that determine the legality of casinos and gambling games. There are also detailed instructions about the activity of the gambling establishment and its employees. Every deviation from the norms is investigated, prosecuted, and the necessary WSGC penalties for gambling violations are applied.

🕵️‍♂‍ Are WSGC inspections and investigations legal?

Yes. Part of the duties of the WA State Gambling Commission is to perform WSGC investigations and inspections of working gambling locations. Those actions aim deciding the proper work of the casinos and detect violations. The process is performed by a Gambling Special Agents working for the WSGC.

📜 How do I get a gambling license in WA state?

One of the main duties of the WSGC is to issue Washington State Gambling Commission license, revoke existing ones, or deny gambling permits if the requirements are not met. You can apply for a gambling permit by following the steps on the WAGC website. We gave more details on the duties of the commission in this article.

💸 How much does a WA State Gambling Commission Class III cost?

Before reaching for your wallet, you should be certain that your establishment fits all requirements and regulations of the WA State Gambling Commission and the main gambling laws in the USA. You also need to list which games from the Class III you will offer. In the end, the representatives of the commission will give you a price.

🙋 How to report my WSGC annual activity report?

The WA State Gambling Commission has a detailed procedure for reporting of the casino's annual activity. You can find more information and even application on the WSGC website and in the committee's offices. If you are interested in more details, you can also check our article dedicated to the commission.

❓ What is a WA State Gambling Commission Class 69 license?

The Class 69 is also known as Class III Indian Gaming Employee Certification. This class is created especially for the tribal owned and operated casinos. As part of the WA State Gambling Commission license, the owners of the casinos and gambling establishments are required to select the games they will offer.

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