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Is Online Gambling Illegal in Washington?

Online gambling refers to placing real-money bets over the Internet on casino games, sports events or card games such as poker. It has become a widely practiced practice and in certain countries is even regulated. Other forms include sweepstakes, fantasy sports and skill gaming.

Online gambling is legal in certain US states; however, regulations vary greatly from one to another.


As Internet usage exploded during the 1990s, online gambling became an increasingly popular and controversial form of entertainment. This form offered an alternative way around prohibition by providing customers access to gambling products anywhere with Internet connectivity and offering wagering using credit cards – leading several states to pass laws to regulate it.

However, some states still prohibit online gambling. Utah and Hawaii both take strong stances against any form of online gambling that would make it illegal for residents there to engage in such activity; those living within either of these states could potentially face charges for misdemeanor crimes for engaging in such activity online.

Many state lawmakers have opened the doors to sports betting again, yet federal law continues to limit online gaming growth. The Wire Act, passed prior to commercial Internet usage, prohibits transmission of sports betting information across state lines and federal prosecution has even been initiated against media outlets that accept advertising from illegal gambling sites.


Regulation of online gambling can be an arduous undertaking. Most states have legalized sports betting online, yet casinos remain illegal under the Federal Wire Act, passed prior to commercial Internet development and prohibiting transmission of information and payments related to sports gambling across state lines. A 2011 interpretation of this law opened the door for other forms of gambling activity.

However, many financial service providers have been prosecuted for breaking the law and various media outlets have pulled their advertisements of online gambling sites. Only Utah and Hawaii have banned all forms of gambling; therefore it is wise to check local regulations prior to betting; since laws can change quickly it would be prudent to consult an attorney on the latest updates regarding wagering in your jurisdiction. Moreover, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed laws which would relax federal prohibitions on online gambling.


Gambling occurs when someone risks money or something of value on an event that involves chance. Online gambling in Washington State is prohibited under state Law 720 5/28-1; engaging in such activity constitutes a class A misdemeanor offense and service providers such as payment processors, advertising networks and website hosts have been prosecuted for engaging in it knowingly.

Taxes related to online gambling vary depending on which state one resides. While federal laws do not restrict or outright ban gambling, various state laws do prohibit online sports betting or certain forms of games; Utah and Hawaii have outright banned all forms of gambling while winnings from gambling are subject to regular income rates as the IRS treats it as income; furthermore some states have passed laws restricting taxes on these winnings.


Online gambling, also known as betting over the Internet, is both entertaining and addictive, potentially leading to financial issues and opening the player up to fraudsters and scams. Kaspersky Fraud Prevention software provides an effective solution against such threats.

Illicit online gambling violates multiple federal criminal statutes, such as the Wire Act and Travel Act. Furthermore, state law and UIGEA could also apply. Furthermore, media outlets who accept ads from illegal online gambling operators could face liability for aiding and abetting this illegal activity. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has warned them of potential liability should they accept advertising from these operators.

While online gambling does pose some risks of criminal behavior, the likelihood is less likely than offline gambling. It should be noted, however, that some online casinos lack appropriate security measures and could be susceptible to hackers; to minimize risks users should select sites using SSL encryption technology.