Washington State lawmakers have been working on expanding sports betting across the state from tribal casinos and private cardrooms. The state would not take away sports betting from these entities, it would just expand sports betting to other locations, similar to how it is across the U.S.
One of the biggest talking points for sports betting expansion is creating jobs across the state. Washington wants to add sports betting to state-licensed cardrooms and horse racing tracks in the state.
However, some people are opposed to this idea. Critics say that expanding sports betting would take away from tribal groups that use the revenue to fund their own operations and social programs. The Evergreen State has attempted to legalize sports betting for a few years now, and it could become an intense battleground between lawmakers and tribal groups.
Washington Betting Bills
The state legalized sports betting for tribal groups last year, which was a big step toward the industry. However, casinos have yet to begin operations as they decide on compacts in negotiations.
The delay in Indian casino sports betting has opened the door for lawmakers to dictate if they should attempt to expand sports betting to non-tribal casinos and horse racing tracks. Last year, lawmakers also tried to expand sports betting in the state and failed to pass a bill.
“This is about fairness,” said Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, a sponsor of the bill. “We need to share the wealth. We need to take care of the state of Washington as well.”
Maverick Gaming Owner, Eric Persson, says that if sports betting were expanded, he would bring on more jobs at his casino and contribute $50 million in annual revenue to the state. However, experts say that Maverick would have to bring in many bets to hit that number from one location.
Under the bill, licensing fees would be $100,000, and there would be a 10% tax. The bill would not allow betting on Washington State college sports. eGames and high school sports would also not be allowed to be bet on.
What’s Next in Washington
Washington is setting up to be an interesting state in 2021. Clearly, there is a line drawn in the sand between sports betting expansion and keep sports betting with tribal groups and private cardrooms.
However, with sports betting not being live in Washington, this is the best time for lawmakers to rally to expand the industry.
Although tribal groups and some lawmakers are backing Indian casinos, expanding the industry would most likely help the state than hurt it. More competition is better for everyone, and there is no word if Indian casinos would have online sports betting.
Ultimately, Washington’s current sports betting laws could hurt sports betting in the state compared to healthy expansion. If no sports betting is available, then lawmakers will continue to fight between expansion and launch. 2021 should be an interesting year for Washington.
Having a full sports betting industry in the state before Oregon, Montana, and California could be huge with travel and the state’s economy, especially with Covid-19 hurting state budgets.