Washington DC Online Casinos and Gambling Sites in 2024

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Online Gambling Laws

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Gambling in Washington DC is legal but only in certain forms.

While online gambling is yet to be regulated in the state, there are offshore gambling sites for residents who want a virtual casino experience.

Casino gaming and poker are famously shut out of the district’s list of accepted games. Sports betting and charitable events are legal but highly regulated. As of 2024, there are no commercial or tribal casinos.

Therefore, residents wanting to play slots, blackjack, poker, and other popular real-money games must look at out-of-state online casinos.

We’ll show you the main highlights of DC gambling laws and what the future holds for the district.

We’ll also share the best online casinos where to play safely, and where DC residents are welcome today!

Summary of Washington DC Gambling Laws

Residents have a few options when it comes to gambling, but the district is more restrictive than other East Coast territories.

Below is the latest status for each form of gambling in the state:

GamblingWashington D.C.
Is Online Gambling Legal?Yes
Playing at Online CasinosGray Area (Offshore sites only)
Legal Age Online18
Land-Based CasinosNo
Legal Age Land-BasedN/A
Online Sports BettingYes (3 regulated apps)
Charitable GamblingYes
State LotteryYes
Social GamingGray Area

The state has only a few forms of legalized gambling: sports betting, charitable gaming, bingo, and lottery.

Here are the most noteworthy highlights of what gambling in Washington D.C. looks like:

GamblingWashington DC
Online GamblingThe state does not regulate its online casino industry, but offshore gambling sites are available to state residents.
Casino GamblingThere are no commercial or tribal casinos. Chapter 17 of the Code of the District of Columbia explicitly outlaws casino gaming. Many casino-goers cross the border into Maryland and Virginia to gamble in person.
PokerThere are no poker rooms, and the law bans online poker sites within state borders. Instead, players who seek to play poker opt to join offshore gambling sites based in other territories. 
Horse Racing BettingBetting on horse racing is prohibited. There is no legal framework to allow horse betting, even for regulated sportsbooks in the district.
Dog Racing BettingWashington D.C. has never legalized dog racing and has no greyhound facility. 
LotteryThe D.C. Lottery was launched in 1982 and is regulated by the District of Columbia Lottery and Gaming Control Board (LGCB).
Daily Fantasy SportsDaily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are neither legal nor banned in the district. There is no mention of DFS in state laws or statutes, and there has never been a decision on whether it counts as a “game of skill”.
DraftKings and FanDuel currently operate in the state without any issues.
Sports Betting Sports betting is permitted, but it’s heavily regulated. Sports wagering “shall occur only in the specific locations within a designated sports wagering facility (§ 36–621.02). 
There are also three sports betting apps active in the district. Two of these apps are only available within a block of their respective sportsbooks. GambetDC is the only district-wide online gambling app.
Charitable GamingOnly licensed District charitable organizations can conduct games of chance, such as those traditionally found in casinos, by holding a Monte Carlo Night Party.
Social GamblingSocial gambling is permitted in DC so long as no money is exchanged. Entertainment companies provide “Casino Parties” on private premises where fake chips are used instead of dollars.

Best Online Casinos for Washington DC Players in 2024

Residents usually look beyond DC’s borders when looking to gamble online.

After all, the law doesn’t permit sites to base themselves within The District. Offshore sites are, therefore, an attractive option for residents.

Here are our top recommended real money online casinos where you can gamble safely.

Where to Gamble in Washington DC

It is possible to gamble in D.C., but players are advised to be smart when making choices. After all, the district has relaxed its gambling laws slightly in recent years.

Here’s more information on what you can and can’t do:

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Land-Based Casinos in Washington / District of Columbia

There are no land-based casinos in D.C. Commercial casinos are banned, and there are no tribal casinos present. 

Anyone found to be operating a casino or casino games “shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of not more than 5 years” (Code of DC, Ch 17 § 22–1704)

MGM National Harbor Hotel & Casino is the closest land-based gambling venue to D.C. It is located at Oxon Hill, eight miles from Capitol Hill.

Green icon showing outline of a racing horse's head with bridle and reins

Horse & Dog Tracks

Horse racing betting is not regulated in D.C, and there are no racetracks or simulcast facilities. The closest racetrack to The District is Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, MD.

You cannot bet on dog racing, either. There are no greyhound tracks in the district.

In fact, the state has become the home of many disowned greyhounds from West Virginia, where the sport still takes place.

Congress has been trying to push through The Greyhound Protection Act (H.R. 3894) to ban betting on dogs both domestically and overseas. (H.R. 3894)

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Online Sports Betting

The District of Columbia approved a bill to legalize sports betting in 2018.

However, as of 2024 only two commercial sportsbooks operate in the capital. Caesars Sportsbook is built into the Capitol One Arena, while BetMGM is at Nationals Park.

You can use the sportsbook apps within a block or two of both establishments. However, GambetDC remains the only state-wide sportsbook in DC. 

The DC Lottery oversees licenses for sports betting and online wagering (DC Code, Ch 6, § 36–621.01).

The only other option for online sports betting in the state is to use an offshore casino site.

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Bingo Halls and Charitable Gambling

The D.C. Lottery regulates bingo and deems it to be charitable gambling.

The board can regulate licensed retailers of Lottery tickets and pay cash prizes. The lottery pays out 50% of annual sales in prize money, totaling $4.6bn to date.

The rest is spent on education, recreation and parks, housing, public safety, and senior and child services.

Bingo, raffles, and Monte Carlo night parties are only permitted for the purpose of charity fundraising. These nights are held on private premises, such as the American Legion on D St SE. 

DC Code §§ 22-1716 and 22-1717 provide that the only gambling allowed in the District of Columbia must be either conducted or regulated by the DC Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board (CGCB).

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Social Gaming at Home

DC’s state laws don’t actively ban anyone from playing poker or other card games at home with friends.

However, the law does make hosting a game of chance illegal (§ 22-1705). Social gaming at home is, therefore, a gray area in the district.

Most players stay on the side of the law by refusing to accept rakes and keeping prize pots well below $100.

cash with three playing cards behind

Poker Rooms and Clubs

Poker is also illegal under the district’s state code.

In 2009 the Attorney General considered whether poker was a sufficient game of “skill” to be granted an exception under the Code of DC, § 36–641.01.

It was deemed that: “The Poker Club’s proposal to operate for-profit poker games in an ABC-licensed establishment is illegal under District law.” (AL-09-591)

The closest in-person poker pit to the capital is the MGM National Harbor Hotel & Casino at Oxon Hill, MD.

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Eight-Liners

Slot machines are illegal in Washington DC and law enforcement is required to destroy any “gambling device” if they are recovered.

Only “historic” slot machines built before 1952 are permitted in the state, but they cannot be used. (§ 22–1704)

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Casino Cruises

The Potomac River forms DC’s western border but no casino cruises operate in its waters. 

Real Money Online Casino Games for Washington DC

The state’s decision to outlaw most gambling games doesn’t prevent residents from playing online.

Casino sites are popular in The District because they are the only option for most players.

You can access these sites while walking through Rock Creek Park and dining on New York Avenue.

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Online Slots

Slot games are only available via out-of-state gambling sites.

You can spin hundreds of real money slot games on your phone, tablet, or desktop computer from anywhere in the district.

These sites are the only option for residents, as no land-based providers are available either.

Offshore online casinos use internationally renowned software developers to provide elite-level games.

Enjoy features like free spins, wilds, mega jackpots, and VIP experiences.

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Online Poker

Out-of-state poker sites have become the go-to option for card players in DC who can’t otherwise get in the game.

The state outlaws both in-person and online poker tournaments. Players have previously traveled to Delaware or West Virginia to play poker.

However, the growth of offshore options means you don’t have to leave your home! Access online poker tables and video poker games like Jacks or Better, Perfect Pairs, and more.

icon blackjack stand green

Blackjack

Blackjack is classed as a casino game of chance in D.C. and is, therefore, not permitted in the district.

The lack of tribal or commercial casinos means playing in person unless you drive to Oxon Hill, MD is impossible.

Instead, online casinos provide real-money blackjack games and live blackjack tables for all players, where you can virtually sit next to fellow gamers from around the world.

icon live dealer green

Live Dealer Games

If you want to play live dealer games online, out-of-state online casinos are your only option.

These sites use third-party providers who bring together the global community of gamers in one lobby.

That results in a broader range of titles, more exciting tournaments, and bigger payouts.

In contrast, live games such as baccarat, craps, and Sic Bo are only permitted in the state if they are part of a Monte Carlo night for charitable fundraising.

Players opt for offshore gambling sites online due to their convenience.

Other Available Games at Online Casinos in the District of Columbia

The state doesn’t really “get” casino gambling, so it’s no surprise that other games like keno and roulette are banned in the district too.

Offshore sites remain your sole option for now. Here are some additional real money games you’ll find at these online casinos. 

Top Bonuses at Gambling Sites for DC Players

Online casinos offer big incentives for new players, including mega welcome bonuses and weekly reload bonuses.

They don’t have to pay state tax, so they pass on the savings to customers! They also benefit from being able to offer more forms of payment, such as Bitcoin and Litecoin.

Here are two recommended casino bonuses you can consider.

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Bovada gives new players a 100% matched deposit bonus of up to $1,000 across the first three deposits.

It’s the home of slot gaming, with thousands of titles to choose from.

You can also play online poker and blackjack, which are a rare treat for most DC residents.

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There are more than 500 slots to choose from at DuckyLuck and a VIP scheme that rewards players weekly.

Washington DC Online Gambling Laws

The gambling laws stem from the district’s constitution and legislative bills.

The Code of the District of Columbia outlines what forms of gambling are permitted and what aren’t. In general, the district takes a conservative stance on gambling.

icono verde con cartas, un dado y una ficha

Is Online Gambling Legal in Washington DC?

Online gambling is only legal via three app-based sportsbooks.

Two of these sportsbooks can only be used within a few blocks of their in-person venues, at the Capitol One Arena and Nationals Park.

Online casino gaming is not permitted, so District of Columbia gamers usually opt to join out-of-state sites instead.

a bag of cash with an X in the center

In Washington D.C., The Law Generally Prohibits Gambling

Gambling is defined as playing any game of chance for money or property and is generally outlawed by the district.

This can be any game of chance, such as cards, dice, and slots, as well as sports wagering on horses, dogs, and athletic contests.

DC’s gambling laws are outlined in § 22–1701 of the district’s Code. (Section § 22–1701 of the Code of the District of Columbia)

icon double down green

Casinos Are Not Permitted

There are no casinos in D.C.

The district’s code states no “house, vessel, or place, on land or water” is permitted to act as a gambling venue. Punishment is “imprisonment for a term of not more than 5 years”.

The only exceptions are charitable gambling venues and the two sportsbooks based in the state, which only offer sports betting. (Section § 22–1704 of the Code of the District of Columbia)

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Tribal Casinos Cannot Operate In D.C.

Tribal casinos are not permitted in the District of Columbia.

The Johnson Act “prohibits the manufacture, possession, use, sale, or transportation of any “gambling device” in Indian Country, the District of Columbia, and possessions of the United States”. (Johnson Act)

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Rule Against Nudge Games

The state does not permit games of chance such as “Nudge” or “Skill” video gaming machines, deeming them gambling devices.

A 2019 review by the Acting Deputy Attorney General found that “the games do not have a possible winning combination every time, then chance predominates over skill, and the machines are gambling devices.”(AL-18-604)

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Gambling Promotion

The District permits gambling promotion only for activities approved and regulated by the Lottery.

This includes sports wagering, lottery, bingo, raffles, and Monte Carlo night parties. (Section § 22–1718 of the Code of the District of Columbia)

*Disclaimer: Please be advised that the information provided on this page does not constitute legal advice. Our team strongly recommends you seek professional counsel from a qualified attorney regarding your specific questions or concerns on the topic.

Washington DC Online Gambling vs. Neighbor States

Maryland and Virginia are the only states to border D.C., and their attitude to gambling varies.

While all three permit sports betting, it’s Maryland and Virginia that have gone big in recent years. D.C., meanwhile, is playing catch-up on DFS and social casinos too.

US StatePlaying at Online CasinosState Regulated CasinosSocial CasinosOnline Sports BettingLotteryFantasy SportsCharitable Gaming
Washington DCGray Area (Offshore sites only)Not LegalGray AreaLegalLegalGray AreaLegal
MarylandGray Area (Offshore sites only)Not LegalLegalLegalLegalLegalLegal
VirginiaGray Area (Offshore sites only)Not LegalLegalLegalLegalLegalLegal

Washington D.C.’s gambling laws are similar to those of its neighboring states, but there is still some catching up to do.

The District doesn’t permit social casinos and takes a dim view of all forms of gaming machines. There are also no commercial or tribal casinos in DC. By comparison, there are two operators in Virginia and six in Maryland.

Sports betting is generally accepted in all three territories but residents in the District of Columbia have far less choice. In fact, they only have three regulated sportsbooks to choose from, compared to 16 in Virginia.

Tips for Playing at Online Casinos in DC Safely

Each casino site we recommend aims to deliver a fun, safe experience for all new players.

However, that doesn’t mean players should be neglectful of their own safety when gambling online. From getting security guarantees to sticking to your budget, here are some tips for gaming responsibly:

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Set a Budget

We recommend always setting a budget when gambling online.

Only risk what you can afford and never chase big losses. Gambling is fun but also comes with a level of risk. We suggest you start small and place bigger bets when comfortable.

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Join a Reputable Site

The best gambling sites are those that pass independently reviewed scrutiny and get top ratings from the casino community.

Check out our top-rated casinos that have passed extensive safety and security tests and created a loyal community of players.

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Check The License

The state doesn’t have a regulated online casino industry, which is why we suggest offshore sites.

Look at the license your chosen site has and the regulations they are required to follow. Most reputable licenses are held in Curaçao, Europe, or Panama.

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Get Security Guarantees

The District of Columbia ranks fifth among the safest states for cybercrime and identity theft. However, gamblers are encouraged to remain vigilant and practice smart gaming.

This means checking your casino site has 256-bit secure socket layering (SSL) encryption or Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption as standard. This will keep all your transactions secure.

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Look for Transparency

Look for a site that is transparent in its T&Cs.

The best operators have easy-to-follow sign-up processes, understandable bonuses, and fair terms.

Little things like wagering requirements and withdrawal fees might not seem important right now, but they can significantly affect your gaming experience if they work against you.

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Check Payment Options

Double-check that your ideal payment option is available at your chosen casino site. Options range from card payments and checks to crypto, wire transfers, and e-wallet deposits.

responsible gambling green icon

Look For Responsible Gambling

All our recommended sites provide players with responsible gambling resources.

Blogs, alerts, and self-exclusion mechanisms are available to each customer. We recommend reading advice on responsible gaming before you join any casino.

Pros & Cons of Gambling in Washington D.C.

The state is a great place to gamble if you are a sports fan but the choice for real money casino players is limited.

It is important to look at both sides of the coin before gaming in the district:

Pros

  • Well regulated charity bingo and Monte Carlo industry.
  • Access to offshore casino sites.
  • Closest land-based casino (in MD) just eight miles from the Capitol.
  • Extensive problem gambling resources.

Cons

  • Legislature has a cautious approach to regulating online casinos.
  • Second lowest state in the country for gross gaming revenue ($23.2M).
  • Lottery winners pay 8.5% district tax on $5,000+ winnings.
  • 3 regulated sports betting apps.

Future of Online Gambling in Washington DC: Our Prediction

As we’ve seen earlier in this guide, the District of Columbia has a difficult relationship with gambling.

Most activities, apart from sports betting and charitable gaming, are prohibited. The idea that lawmakers will soon pass iGaming bills is a long stretch.

Indeed, we predict Washington D.C. will not undergo any major changes to its casino industry in the near future. The district is generally against casinos and has no plans to establish commercial or tribal properties.

It’s taken the state six years to get just three Class A sportsbooks up and running, and players still have trouble placing sports bets.

Online gambling is possible if you’re close to one of the two sportsbooks in the district or download the Lottery’s own app, GambetDC, but wagering on your phone in a parking lot isn’t much fun.

Small businesses can apply for sports betting licenses, so more sportsbooks could soon appear.

However, the $100,000 application fee for a Class B license puts most vendors off. DC can’t even get sports betting right, so there’s little hope of it expanding into iGaming any time soon.

In fact, we’re more likely to see movement in the neighboring state of Maryland, where House Bill (HB 1319), introduced on February 9th, seeks to push for regulated online casinos in the state.

For now, both D.C. and Maryland players have to stick with trusted offshore online casinos. Take a look at our top recommendations and try them out!

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D.C. Online Gambling FAQ

Want to know more about gambling in the state? Below, we answer some of the most common questions our readers ask:

Joseph Ellison

Author

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK’s top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You’ll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn’t writing about sport.

Joseph’s Articles

Disclaimer

As part of our commitment to transparency, it’s important to disclose that this website engages in affiliate marketing. This means that when you click on our links to online casinos and make a purchase or sign up, we may earn a commission.

These commissions contribute to the upkeep of our platform and the creation of valuable content. While we aim to provide accurate and unbiased information, it’s crucial to note that our reviews are not influenced by affiliate partnerships.

Additionally, we advocate for responsible gambling practices and encourage users to gamble responsibly. If you believe you may have a gambling problem, please seek assistance from relevant support services.