Washington State might be joining the rush to sports betting. The Seattle Times reports that the state House of Representatives will be considering a bill to legalize the activity in tribal casinos.
Democrat Majority Caucus Chair Eric Pettigrew, along with seven other representatives, have put forward House Bill 1975, which calls for both professional and collegiate sports wagering to be allowed within tribal facilities, as well as online. Currently, online gambling in Washington State is a felony.
The bill is fairly limited, leaving a lot to further negotiation should it be passed. The expectation is that, if the bill is passed, negotiations with the tribes on what they will be allowed to offer will open up the floodgates to more widespread options in the state down the road. The Washington State Gambling Commission’s Chris Stearns said, “The bill doesn’t say very much, but the way federal Indian gaming law works is, just as long as the state permits something it opens the door for the tribes to operate based on what they negotiate.”
The bill puts a lot of faith in the tribal casinos to set a standard for the rest of the state to follow. It says, in part, “Tribes have more than 20 years’ experience with, and a proven track record of, successfully operating and regulating gaming facilities in accordance with tribal gaming compacts.”
The reality of widely offered sports betting may be a few years off, due to the necessary negotiations with the tribes. As neighboring states increasingly push for their own action, the pressure is on for Washington State to follow or be left behind.
Stearns pointed out to the Seattle Times that Oregon is preparing to have their sports gambling app ready before next year’s Super Bowl. He expects that will light a fire under Washington lawmakers to get their bill through to stay in competition.
If sports gambling passes or not, Washington State can expect continued growth in the gambling industry. A recent report by Yahoo Finance saw the state as one of the fastest growing job markets for gambling in the country, along with New York and Alabama.