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Gambling in Washington DC

Let's face facts; online gambling is increasing in popularity across the United States and other parts of the world. Still, it is not very popular in Washington DC compared with many other major cities. A principal reason for this irregularity is that online gambling is yet to be fully accepted by the Washington DC council.

If you're observant, you'll notice no brick-and-mortar gaming facilities like casinos or race tracks in any part of the nation's capital. So you're left with the option of driving across state lines or going online before you can gamble on your favorite iGaming products.

Council members approved internet gaming in 2011. But they went back on their decision seeing the public was against it. Residents complained of the process being biassed and not properly vetted. The DC council promised to revisit the process, but there hasn't been any movement in that direction.

Online casino game enthusiasts have once again generated some hope. Online sports betting in DC is live. The easy passage of the sports betting bill brings hope to casino gamers. Soon, crossing the Maryland state line would be needless. On the other hand, online gambling is available in Washington DC. However, it is limited to the online lottery, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports. You can also access social casinos and play popular online casino games such as poker, slots, table games, etc.

To better understand the gambling space in Washington DC, this complete guide will provide a breakdown of the gaming products available, governing laws, governing bodies and what they do, etc.

The Current State of Online Gambling in Washington DC

Gambling is currently restricted in Washington DC. As a result, only a few gambling activities can be accessed within the District. Unfortunately, this restriction has prevented residents of the area from having full access to the opportunities available in the online gambling industry.

However, the gambling landscape is dynamic. Currently, sports betting has gone live and has spiked some hope in the hearts of punters in the District. Sports bets can now be placed via sportsbooks like GambetDC, BetMGM, and Caesars sportsbooks. In addition, online lottery games, daily fantasy sports, and sweepstakes casino websites are open to gamblers to explore.

There are no casinos establishments within the District of Columbia. Essentially, casino platforms are not licensed to operate within the District. This is the same situation with online casinos. Although online casino gambling is not permitted in Washington DC, most players tend to visit offshore operators. Although the law is not clear on prohibiting players who visit offshore sites, there have always been countless worries about such visits. Unfortunately, most players have learned the hard way to wait for the regulation of online casinos in their District.

The current restriction by the federal gambling laws is to regulate banking institutions on how they handle the transmission of wagering information. Again, these laws don't affect offshore online sites that already have their licenses. However, the law is still within its right to regulate how residents of the District of Columbia access these gambling sites within the state.

As mentioned earlier, the DC Council approved casino games in 2011. However, this decision was appealed by elected officials. This made the Washington State Gambling Commission reverse the law as there was public agitation that the measures used for authorization were not vetted properly. Since then, there have been calls for a revisit to the case.

Laws that Govern Washington DC Online Gambling

No law authorizes online gambling in Washington DC, and there is no law prohibiting it either. We can easily say that online gambling is in a grey area or pretty restricted in the District. Washinton DC is not a state but is considered a District or council. It is governed by laws passed by the council but, to a great extent, influenced by the Federal Government. 

Fact is, it is considered illegal to take part in certain aspects of online gambling, such as online casino games. So, yes, there are regulations set out to guide gambling operations. Online gambling products not legalized in Washington DC include online casinos, online poker, etc. However, daily fantasy games, sports betting, charitable gaming, and online lottery are allowed in the region, providing punters with an opportunity to win big.

Who Governs Online Gambling Operations in Washington DC 

Washington DC gambling laws are confusing as no written law prohibits or bans online gambling. However, the Washington State Gambling Commission regulates gambling activities in the state. The commission also licenses only authorized gambling products and services. Its core values are professionalism, integrity, respect, and diversity.

The Commission partners with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement organizations to perform its legislative functions, such as keeping criminal elements away and encouraging social welfare. Furthermore, the commission comprises five commissioners, which the Governor decides. These commissioners are eligible for 6-year terms. Four legislative members perform a significant liaison role between the legislature and commission. They have the power to vote for approval or amendment of the gaming compacts.

Gambling Products in Washington D.C.

Gambling products available in the District are pretty limited. Once upon a time, casinos and gambling houses were fully operated. Still, these operations were never really legal. However, there have been calls for the legalization of online casinos in the state.

As a result, more operators are trying to get the legal right to operate in the council. Below, we've listed some of Washington DC's best gambling products. We've also made a detailed explanation of whether it is legal or not to participate in any gambling activities within the District.

Casinos in Washington DC

There is no provision for online and retail casinos in DC. Operators like BetMGM sportsbook have a casino platform, but since online casinos are not permitted, punters are unable to access real money games.

Essentially, residents are not provided with real money casinos, yet sweepstakes casinos are available to play games like slots, video poker, roulette, and blackjack.

Sports Betting in Washington DC

Residents of Washington DC will find a couple of betting operators to wager on. Currently, there are three bookies apps, BetMGM, Caesars, and GambetDC, available in the District, and we expect more to go live. Due to the unique nature of sports betting in DC, GambetDC is the only app you can place bets on anywhere.

Bettors have to be a couple of blocks to the Nationals Park stadium before they can wager using other apps. Additionally, the law allows punters 21 years or more to have a betting account.

Online Lottery in Washington DC

The District of Columbia may not support online casinos now; players can at least enjoy online lottery in the region. The DC Lottery has been set up since 1982, and players can access exciting lottery games such as PowerBall and Mega Millions. Tickets can be acquired at any registered retailer in the city.

In addition, you can find popular scratch card games for the online lottery on desktops and mobile browsers. Also, players can compete and stand a chance to win prizes up to $200,000 and get a VIP experience at a Washington Football Team game.

Daily Fantasy Sports in Washington DC

Daily Fantasy games are among the legal gambling products in Washington DC. Top DFS sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel are in operation in the District of Columbia. This means that you play online even from the comfort of your home. This is also a way of taking your mind off that you may not have access to playing online casino games.

Online Poker in Washington DC

Online poker is not legal in Washington DC. Poker lovers won't be able to access poker sites in the District, just like online casino sites. After the ban on online gambling by the federal government, the district tried to push for internet poker games to be legalized.

However, it has still failed to gain much legislative traction. Although poker games were banned at the federal level, some individual states permit players to play them. To enjoy real-money online poker, You'll have to visit MGM or other places like Maryland or Delaware.

Offshore Illegal Operators vs. Legal Operators in Washington DC

With many gambling sites on the internet, being careful when choosing a site becomes more crucial if you are willing to enjoy gambling products. Many fraudulent gambling sites will use several incentives to get your money. Also, many of the offshore sportsbooks, casinos, or poker sites are unsafe and unreliable for the use of Washington DC residents.

There is no specific law or regulation that protects Washington DC residents. For example, the Washington State Gambling Commission doesn't prohibit users from visiting offshore sites to enjoy casino games, even though it is considered illegal in the District of Columbus. However, there are certain instructions or guidelines provided to users to enable them to stick with legal operators in DC.

Offshore sites offer casino games, poker games, and other online gambling products not available in Washington DC. Sometimes, players cannot resist the urge to access these gaming products. However, the question remains if the risk is worth it. The fact is, it is not. These sites could rip off your hard-earned money, and you could be traumatized, running around to get your funds back.

Visiting nearby cities like Maryland, Delaware, or West Virginia is a better alternative to illegal offshore gambling sites. It is safer for the Washington DC players since they have legal and licensed operators in those states. You can also stick to playing the daily fantasy games, sports betting, and online lottery, which is legal and regulated in Washington DC. In addition, online casinos would soon be available.

This is to ensure that you play on trustworthy and reliable gambling sites. All indications show that changes will soon enable more gambling activities to become legal in the District of Columbia.

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Robert is responsible for all content on BettingGuide US. Robert previously worked as a poker dealer during his college years at MIT where he studied Computational Science and Engineering. With a great interest in gambling, Robert likes to go in-depth when writing so that you can make a wiser choice when choosing an operator.

Last updated: 8/15/2022