Washington Legislature Introduces Bills to Allow Sports Betting

Sports BookIn Washington state, bills to allow sports betting at Indian casinos for major events, like the Super Bowl and the World Series, have just been introduced. It looks like sports betting is expanding in the United States, following the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed for it to be legalized in every state.

These bills would effectively allow owners of the 29 Indian casinos in the state to open Las Vegas-style sportsbooks. While it’s a big move for sports betting in Washington, a company that operates 19 private card rooms in Washington says the bills should allow mobile betting, too.

Eric Persson, the owner of Maverick Gaming, said their company should also be allowed to offer sports betting services. This includes betting via the use of cellphones, computers, and other smart devices.

“That’s what the consumer wants,’‘ Persson told the House Commerce and Gaming Committee on Monday afternoon.

The committee heard Persson’s testimony about the proposal, but did not take a vote. The next sports betting hearing is scheduled for Thursday before a Senate committee.

Legal Gambling Can Help End Illegal Gambling

Rebecca Kaldor, director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, said the casinos provide jobs and government services in some of the poorest parts of the state. Kaldor mentioned that Indian casinos provide jobs for over 30,000 people. In turn, they pay over $1.5 billion a year in wages and benefits. They also pay $722 million in taxes and account for over $5.7 billion for the state’s economy alone.

But Persson said operators of card rooms and other non-Indian gambling businesses should share in the sports betting action. He said many people in Washington are already betting on sports via off-shore bookies.

When asked how to reduce illegal gambling, Persson said people will naturally pursue legal options if given the choice.

Persson even pushed for Washington to start providing mobile betting options to bet on sports, insisting that the accessibility and legality would help end prohibited gambling on sports.

A few representatives from Native American casinos spoke out against adding cardrooms to sports betting venues. They believe those are private, unrelated businesses that don’t necessarily offer any benefits to Washington residents.

The Slow and Steady Approach

The Washington state House bill seeks to “figure out a slow and steady way to kind of enter into this new arena of gambling,” said House Commerce and Gaming Committee Chairman Strom Peterson, a Democrat from Edmonds and the sponsor of the measure.

The aforementioned bill would permit Native American-based casinos to revise their gambling agreements with Washington legislators and allow betting on sports in the future. However, the bill does block betting on sporting events that involve universities or colleges within the state. This is a legal component that other states have implemented as well, in an effort to prevent any potential corruption.

Native American leaders, along with casinos, have testified in support of the prohibition of betting on collegiate sporting events.

David Bean, chairman of the Puyallup Tribe, said gaming revenues have provided tribes with the means to provide many services to their members, and many jobs to both Indians and non-Indians.

“Indian casinos are a natural place for sports betting”, Bean said. “You know us. You trust us,” Bean said. “This is our home.”

Charlene Tillequots, a Yakama Nation Tribal Council member, said tribes have years of experience operating casinos. But Tillequots also said that sports betting is an activity that will require proper management.