On February 25, a bill that would allow tribal casinos in Washington State to offer sports betting was approved by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. House Bill 2638 will now head to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for approval before a potential floor vote.
This bill would allow Washingtonians to place bets on both professional and college sporting events at the state’s 29 tribal casinos. But not all betting would be permitted: wagering on Washington State college sporting action, both public and private, would be prohibited.
A 60% majority is required to pass the bill in the Senate. The bill previously passed the State House by a decisive 83-14 vote.
“This is a really important small step into this new world of sports gaming,” explained State Rep. Strom Peterson, who was one of the original sponsors of the bill.
A lot of people are hoping this bill becomes law, simply for the potential it could create for other operations to push for their own interests. The state’s 44 card rooms and horse racing tracks are already readying themselves to lobby for their own betting bill.
In an appearance before the state legislature, employees of Maverick Gaming LLC, which runs 19 card rooms, testified that the company already provides good-paying jobs, but sports gambling would make it more likely that more employees would be hired, and the benefits provided to current employees would improve as well.
Some members of the legislature have questioned why the bill limited betting to the tribal casinos. This included Sen. Curtis King, however, Sen. Peterson explained that supporters of legalized sports gambling wanted to start small. They want to see how things go with tribal casinos first, but Sen. Peterson added that the law was written so that expansion was a possibility.
There is still opposition to the bill, however. Committee Chairperson Karen Keiser expressed her opposition: “Gambling brings with it the threat of addiction and corruption. This limited first step toward allowing sports betting in Washington will begin to combat the illegal betting that is already going on.”