There is a renewed attempt to expand sports betting in Washington. SB 5212l is enjoying broader support and may help the state recover economically.
Push to Expand Sports Betting in Washington
There is a renewed push in Washington to expand the scope of sports betting beyond its current limitations. This echoes last year’s attempt, though with a few very important differences.
Senate Bill 5212, which was filed on Wednesday, aims to expand the applicability of sports betting across a greater segment of Washington’s gambling sector. If the bill is passed, sports betting would be allowed for licensed card rooms and racetracks, not just in Native American casinos.
The move is once again spearheaded by Nevada-based Maverick Group, which was also behind last year’s push. Unlike last year, the new bill is already seeing bi-partisan support. SB 5212’s selling point is that the tax revenue generated from expanded sports betting would help rebuild Washington’s economic recovery from the pandemic and lockdown measures.
Much Needed Help
Washington has been quite slow at adopting and implementing new forms of gambling. As mentioned before, only tribal casinos are allowed to implement sports betting. The ruling was adopted in the spring of 2020, but it has still not taken effect. Last year, lawmakers also rejected a Republican-backed bill to expand sports gambling. This was before the pandemic, and naturally, the situation is very different this time around.
According to Maverick Gaming CEO Eric Persson, some people will support the bill and others will not. In the end, what matters is that the company’s product is desired by constituents, Mr. Persson said.
Maverick Gaming owns 19 of Washington’s 44 licensed card rooms. Mr Persson estimates that if SB 5212 is accepted, the state would earn annual revenue of around $50 million on sports betting. According to the company, it already pays $13 million to local governments every year.
Impact of Covid-19
Mr Persson also noted that the impact of Covid-19 on the economy is undeniable. He stressed that an annual $50 million is much harder to refuse now than it was only a year ago.
The pandemic and accompanying restrictions have indeed taken a toll on the economies of not just Washington but every US State. States whose economy relies more heavily on the casino industry have been hit especially hard and are now scrambling to find new revenue streams.
The most popular options by far are sports betting and online sports betting. Many states across the US have already taken steps to capitalize on the rapidly growing market segments. More states are sure to follow.