Known as the capital city of the USA, the District of Columbia or Washington D.C. is not a state, nor is it a part of any other US state. D.C. gambling laws have been restrictive in the past. But recently the D.C. council voted in favor of legal sports betting in Washington D.C. So it’s very feasible that some sort of licensed online gambling could become available to D.C. residents in the near future. Here, we go over the laws pertaining to casino games, poker, and other types of online gambling. We also rank and review the top online gambling sites that accept Washington D.C. players.
Washington D.C. Casinos
D.C. businesses are not permitted to offer casino games in any shape or form. The closest legal substitute is Tap-N-Play video lottery terminals, which can be described as electronic scratchers. Such terminals can be found in select D.C. Lottery agent locations.
Online options are limited to social casino sites, such as Slotomania and MyVegas. The latter platform is probably better suited for serious gamblers, as it allows the players to win points that can be redeemed for comps in MGM casinos in Maryland and New Jersey.
Washington D.C. Poker
Poker advocates tend to argue that competitive poker variants should be classified as games of skill, but unfortunately, D.C. authorities consider them to be games of chance. Consequently, Hold’em and Omaha have the same legal status as slots, which makes them illegal across the entire district. Thus, local poker enthusiasts have no choice but to travel to Baltimore or Atlantic City to pursue their hobby.
Online poker has been briefly legalized in April 2011, but the city council repealed the new regulations in February 2012. As it stands right now, playing online poker for money in D.C. is classified as unlawful gambling and constitutes a misdemeanor.
Washington D.C. Sports Betting
In December 2018, D.C. lawmakers passed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act, which authorized land-based and online sports betting within District lines. All sports betting licenses will be issued by District Lottery and betting shops will be divided into two categories. Class A facilities will be located inside four major sports venues: the Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park, and St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena. These venues will be surrounded by two-block exclusivity zones, which means that they won’t face any direct competition. Class B facilities will operate under the same rules, but won’t get any exclusivity deals. As mentioned above, the first D.C. sportsbooks are expected to launch in Fall 2019.
Horse and dog race betting is prohibited in D.C. This also applies to online pari-mutuel platforms, such as TwinSpires or TVG.
Washington D.C. Daily Fantasy Sports
The D.C. Council has not yet regulated paid-entry DFS contests, and with national attention shifting to sports betting, odds are high that this won’t change in the foreseeable future. Despite the lack of a legal framework, DFS operators offer their services to D.C. residents, claiming that the games they offer are entirely skill-based, and thus, don’t meet the definition of gambling as outlined in D.C. Code. D.C. authorities haven’t challenged this claim so far, and since the general public does not consider fantasy sports to be a problem, companies like FanDuel and DraftKings have no reason to withdraw from the D.C. market.
Washington D.C. Lotteries
D.C. Lottery offers a wide range of draw games, including popular multi-state options, such as Powerball, Mega Millions, and Lucky for Life. Other lottery products include scratchers, D.C. Keno, Tap-N-Play, Fast Play games, and a simulated horse racing game called Race2Riches.
The D.C. Council authorized the Lottery to sell tickets over the internet when it legalized online poker in 2011, but the relevant provisions were repealed, along with the other internet gambling regulations in 2012. Under the current regulations, all tickets must be purchased from licensed land-based retailers.
Washington D.C. Bingo
Bingo games can be hosted by charity organizations under the supervision of the District Lottery; commercial bingo is illegal. This prohibition also applies to internet games.
Washington D.C. Online Gambling FAQ
What types of gambling are available in D.C.?
Regulated gambling in D.C. is limited to lottery games, as well as charitable bingo, casino nights, and raffles. Sports betting is expected to become available by the end of 2019.
What laws cover online gambling in D.C.?
Gambling-related matters are covered by D.C. Code, sections 16-1702 and 22-1701 et seq.
Is real money online gambling legal in D.C.?
Online gambling is currently illegal in D.C., although the new sports betting bill contains provisions for internet betting.
Does Washington D.C. offer any intrastate online gambling?
D.C. companies are prohibited from operating online gambling sites. The District Lottery is expected to launch an online sports betting service by the end of 2019.
Is it likely for D.C. to regulate online gambling?
The D.C. Council has already passed regulations pertaining to online sports betting. Other forms of internet gambling are pretty much guaranteed to remain illegal.