Sports Betting Could Expand in Washington This Year

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On Thursday, city leaders from Washington asked lawmakers in Olympia to pass a bill to bring more revenue by expanding sports betting.

Sports Betting Could Boost Washington’s Economic Recovery

The bill, SB 5212 was discussed during a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs on Thursday at 8 am The legislation is part of a bigger strategic plan for the economic post-pandemic future for Washington.

A letter that explained the bill was sent to the Senate panel on Tuesday by the state House’s bipartisan group of lawmakers. In the letter, they state the Legislature’s priorities and goals for economic recovery in 2021. They explain that the lawmakers must make difficult choices and this bill would be a good choice to help the economy and families recover.

However, no action was taken on the draft on Thursday. Should pass later in the session, though, it would allow sports betting on facilities that already have licenses. That includes racetracks and private card rooms. Each site should have its own license. The license fee would be $100,000 and should cover integrity and public safety costs set by the regulatory system. The state would impose a 10% tax for operators on all gross income from sports betting.

The bill would not allow betting on sports events that take place outside of Washington State including events that take place outside and involve the state team. Anyone under the age of 18 would not be allowed to bet.

High-school sports, video games, and electronic sports wagering would also not be permitted. The bill would prohibit the implementation of changes related to sports betting for the tribes. It would also not allow licensing for commercial cardrooms until completion of the current sports betting compact.

The Bill Could Have More Success in 2021 as It Already Sees More Support

In 2020, Nevada Maverick Gaming owner Eric Persson tried to pass a similar bill, but to no avail. He couldn’t persuade the lawmakers to see the economic benefits of sports wagering expansion. Last year, the bill included online mobile betting, which could be one of the reasons it failed.

This year online sports betting has been left out. Although the odds were against Persson last year, times have changed. His attempts to expand sports betting in Washington this year could be more successful. The democrats are also more open to the idea this time around. Senate Democratic Floor Leader Marko Liias and Sen. Curtis King are co-sponsor for the bill.

After the worldwide impact of the pandemic, Washington State would need an economic boost. The state could put to good use a potential $100 million of tax revenue, which could be generated from sports wagering.

According to Persson, the bill has a lot of support in Olympia this time around. He and his team have worked very hard on the proposal with the state leaders. They have laid out what it could do for the state in the long run. Persson said that they have “momentum” now and are going to keep pushing for sports.

Tribes Unhappy with Expanding Gambling

If there is one group that is unhappy with the proposed gambling expansion those are Native Americans. Tribes were granted the right to run sports gambling operations last year, but the compacts that establish the details are yet to come into effect.

With tribes not having benefitted from their exclusive deal with the state, they are reluctant to endorse the expansion of the legislation. As Washington Indian Gaming Association director Rebecca George puts it, “it’s irresponsible for the Legislature to allow sports betting to the benefit of out-of-state people.”

However, Sen. King believes that allowing private businesses to take a stake in sports betting in the state is about fairness, nothing more and that Washington was also entitled to tap into the revenue.

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