Washington state has had a long history of being very conservative when it comes to online gambling. IN fact, it is one of the only states that made playing online gambling sites a felony. This has, as you can imagine, made the growth of the online poker industry was stalled. However, poker is still very popular in the state, and this page will guide you through everything you need to know about the game in the Northwestern state.
Online Poker in Washington
As we mentioned, Washington’s government is one of the only that explicitly makes playing real money online poker illegal and with penalty up to a Class C Felony. That doesn’t mean that players weren’t playing at many of the offshore sites before the law came into effect – the online poker scene was insanely popular back in the early 2000s. However, the introduction of this law definitely shook the industry, even though no player has ever been charged with breaking it.
Between this conservative law and the moves by the Department of Justice to shut down the online poker sites accepting American players left a huge mark on the industry. Since 2011, players from Washington and across the U.S. have not been able to legally play online cash games and tournaments except a handful of states that have passed legislation. If you are really looking for some action at the digital felt, you could cross the border into Canada and play at one of the sites available to Canadian players. Otherwise, it is a waiting game to see if laws will change within the state.
Land Based Poker in Washington
Now that we have gotten through the doom and gloom of the online poker landscape in Washington let’s turn our attention to some good news! Washington’s live poker scene continues to be booming, with dozens of live card rooms open for business across the state. Most of these rooms have multiple tables of cash games available (likely most are Limit Hold’em tables due to the regulations set on mam bet and pot sizes, but many dealers do know how to deal the other games) and small nightly or weekly tournaments.
With a live poker scene that is this lively, the pressure will continue to be applied to the government to try to find a solution for online play. In the meantime, here are all the land-based poker rooms you will find in Washington.
7 Cedars Casino (Sequim, WA)
Aces Casino & Poker Room (Spokane, WA)
All Star Lanes & Casino (Silverdale, WA)
Black Pearl Casino (Spokane, WA)
Buzz Inn Casino & Steakhouse (East Wenatchee, WA)
Casino Caribbean Kirkland (Kirkland, WA)
Casino Caribbean Yakima (Yakima, WA)
Clearwater Saloon & Casino (East Wenatchee, WA)
Cozy’s Roadhouse (Clinton, WA)
Crazy Moose Casino Pasco (Pasco, WA)
Fortune Poker Room (Renton, WA)
Hawk’s Prairie Casino (Olympia, WA)
Highway Twenty Road House (Port Townsend, WA)
Joker’s Casino (Richland, WA)
Lancer Lanes (Clarkston, WA)
Lilac Lanes & Casino (Spokane, WA)
Little Creek Casino (Shelton, WA)
Mr. Z’s Casino (Pullman, WA)
Muckleshoot Casino (Auburn, WA)
Northern Quest Casino (Airway Heights, WA)
Oak Bowl Card Room (Oak Harbor, WA)
Palace Casino Lakewood (Lakewood, WA)
Papa’s Sports Lounge & Casino (Moses Lake, WA)
Red Dragon Casino (Mountlake Terrace, WA)
Roxbury Lanes Casino (Seattle, WA)
Slo Pitch Sports Grill & Casino (Bellingham, WA)
Suquamish Clearwater Casino (Suquamish, WA)
The Last Frontier Casino (La Center, WA)
Wild Goose Casino (Ellensburg, WA)
Wizards Restaurant & Casino (Seattle, WA)
Yakama Legends Casino (Toppenish, WA)
Social Poker in Washington
When the real money online poker industry in the U.S. was shuttered by the government, people were scrambling to find other places to play the game they loved. The timing of this couldn’t have been more perfect for the social gaming industry, which was just rounding into shape. Social poker games like Zynga Poker were offering thousands of play money tables for players, with the added option of buying chip packs to advance through levels faster. However, in 2018 a federal court ruled that the selling of chips by these sites amounted to gambling, which was prohibited in the state. While the social gaming industry continues to lobby to have this ruling reversed, social poker options involving chip purchases are not available in the state.
Subscription Poker in Washington
Another type of poker offering that skirts the issue of real money online gambling is subscription-based poker. This type of game offers players the chance to compete in a series of “free” tournaments after paying a one-time monthly membership fee. This makes the games fall under sweepstakes laws and therefore makes it legal in 36 states. Unfortunately, the sites that are running these types of games are steering clear of Washington now for fear of breaking any laws or being classified like the social gaming sites.
Mobile Poker in Washington
With all that is not allowed in Washington, you may be wondering what online poker is open for business in the state? Well, at the very least, many mobile apps are offering free-play poker games which are available to be downloaded onto your phone or tablet. These games are still built on the same rules as real money games, and while the play won’t exactly be world-class, these apps do allow you to put into practice anything you happen to learn about your favorite poker game. In the end, beggars can’t be choosers here, so if you are in the need of seeing some flops while on the move, then at least you have these sites to help you get your fix.
Online Poker in Washington FAQ
It seems like there are some offshore poker sites still taking players from the U.S. Can’t we just play there?
While there are indeed some rogue operators that were not indicted in the crackdown on online poker in 2011 still accepting American players, even those sites seem to have their limits. Remember that the offshore gambling industry was built off the assumption that there were no laws regarding internet gambling. Those states that have either implemented regulations or strict penalties are typically being removed from the offering of these sites. This is the case in Washington, where even the offshore poker sites don’t want to risk the penalties.
Will the new sports betting laws affect online poker?
That really all depends on what the law states when it is officially passed. As of early 2020, the state has been working on a bill that would see sports betting legalized in the state but only at the retail level. It is difficult to imagine that online and mobile sports betting will be left out in the cold, but that will be a good indicator of how likely it is that we could see legal online poker in the state anytime soon. Don’t hold your breath – this could take a while.