Yakima State Senator Sponsors Bill to Expand Washington Gambling
Washington state Senator Curtis King, R-Yakima, has introduced a bill to expand sports gambling in Washington state through mobile betting and retail sports betting in privately held card rooms and horse racetracks across the state, beyond Indian casinos, saying, “This is about fairness. We need to share the wealth. We need to take care of the state of Washington as well.”
Proponents of the measure say the bill would increase job and tax revenues for the state. If this new proposal is passed during the 2021 legislative session, the new gambling laws will help close the budget gap that was created from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But opponents say such an expansion would take money from tribes who use the casino revenues to fund their operations and social programs.
“This is our tax base,” said Rebecca George, director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association. “It’s irresponsible for the Legislature to allow sports betting to the benefit of out-of-state people.”
Last session, lawmakers approved sports gambling for Native American tribes, but that has yet to take effect as government compacts, that is, interstate deals between two or more states, are still being negotiated. Lawmakers at the same time curtly rejected a bill seeking to open sports gambling to non-tribal competition.
No action was taken after Thursday’s hearing by the Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee.
Sports betting became legal in the state in March of 2020, when Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 2638 into effect on March 25. This bill allowed for legal sports betting at tribal casinos.
There is currently no mobile sports betting allowed in any capacity. If you want to place a sports wager at a tribal casino, it must be done at a retail sports book.
The pressure to legalize sports gambling has grown across the country since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a federal law that had banned it everywhere but Las Vegas and a handful of other jurisdictions.
Under the proposed state of Washington bill:
—Only existing licensed cardrooms and racetracks would be eligible for a sports betting license
—Each facility must have its own license and would be charged a $100,000 licensing fee.
—A state-level 10% tax would be imposed on the operators on all gross revenues from sports wagers. This tax would be in addition to the taxes levied at the local level.
The bill would not allow any betting on college sports events that take place in Washington state or that involve a Washington state team. Betting on electronic sports, high school sports, and competitive video games would be prohibited.
Catch the take of a gambler here.