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District of Columbia Gambling Laws

Seat of the nation's government, the District of Columbia takes a limited approach to unregulated gambling. Gambling, whether it's horse-racing or slot machines, is regulated at the state level. Strictly speaking, there are no commercial or tribal casinos in D.C., nor any pari-mutuel options. There are also no licensed casinos or card rooms in the Nation's Capital.

Legal Gambling in D.C.

D.C has several games of chance under the umbrella term "lottery." Players must be 18 years of age or older, but a person under 18 may receive a lottery ticket as a gift and be paid a lottery prize subject to certain rules.

Charitable Gambling

Charitable gambling is permitted in various formats in D.C. Qualifying organizations can conduct games of bingo, raffles and "Monte Carlo" nights. Charitable gambling is overseen by the D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board .


Federal Law requires the Lottery to report winnings of more than $600 to the IRS and to withhold 25 percent of any claim of more than $5,000. other words, if one person wins the jackpot and chooses the $389 million lump sum payment, $97 million will go straight to the IRS.

The same is true at the state level. While lottery winnings are subject to state income tax in most states, withholding tax varies from zero (California, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and the states with no state income tax) to over 12 percent in New York City. In D.C., the tax rate is 8.5 percent.

Problem Gambling

The National Council on Problem Gambling can provide support to those with an addiction to gambling. Problem gambling–or gambling addiction–includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential features are:

  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling,
  • A need to bet more money more frequently,
  • Restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop,
  • “Chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.

In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide.

The following table highlights the basics of D.C. laws pertaining to gambling. See Details on State Gambling Laws for a general overview.

Code Section 22-1701 et seq.
Definition of Gambling Playing any game of chance for money or property.
Horse Racing All wagering on athletic contests, including horse racing, prohibited.
Dog Racing/Off-Track Betting Prohibited
Casinos Allowed? No house, vessel, or place on land or water, may be set up for gaming purposes. No gambling devices such as slot machines or roulette wheels permitted.
Other Kinds of Gambling-Related Activities Allowed or Banned Bingo, raffles, and Monte Carlo night parties organized for educational and charitable purposes allowed. Three-card monte; confidence games; bookmaking; bucketing illegal.
Gambling Addiction Assistance National Council on Problem Gambling
Penalty for Engaging in Three-Card Monty Misdemeanor, a fine and/or up to 180 days in jail

Note: State gambling laws are constantly changing -- contact a District of Columbia gaming attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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District of Columbia Gaming Laws: Related Resources

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