California, Washington, and Idaho are some of the prominent US states that have resisted the urge to dive headfirst into the sports betting mania. Ever since the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA, New Jersey and at least a couple dozen other states are trying to reap the benefits of a new source of revenue.
Washington lawmakers are cautious
Lawmakers in Washington didn’t show interest in jumping to conclusions. Oregon has legalized sports betting in the state, which has brought new visitors to the Oregon Coast looking for wagering opportunities. The state depends on Coquille Indian Tribe and Chinook Winds and may accept two more casinos in the state this year. The Oregon Lottery is also expected to venture into sports betting kiosks at retailers and bars. Its latest smartphone betting app could help the Lottery gain more eyeballs and customers too.
But it seems unlikely that Washington will follow in Oregon’s footsteps. According to Republic State Senator Curtis King, sports betting is already prevalent in the state. Residents are already betting via offshore casinos and black-market bookies. He introduced a bill in the state legislature to legalize the sports betting sector. His bill advocates sports betting in mini-casinos, tribal casinos, and horse racing tracks. His bill is supported by Maverick Gaming, which owns 19 card rooms in the state.
What else awaits the legislature?
There are four bills in the Washington legislature that aim to legalize sports betting in different capacities. A competing bill suggests that sports betting should only be allowed in tribal casinos. David Bean, Puyallup tribal chairman, testified in favor of this bill and spoke against online and mobile gaming. He said that students and kids should not be exposed to these measures and opportunities that could distract them.
The state constitution may make it difficult for a gambling bill to pass in Washington this year. While the legislative session is already short, any proposal must pass both houses of the legislature with a 60% majority. While the initial response at Olympia has been largely positive, Maverick Gaming is still spending on lobbying efforts to get the legalization bills through. It has also invested heavily in advertising to create broader consensus related to legalization.
The state is home to 29 federally-recognized Indian tribes that are running their own lobbying efforts to ensure that a sports betting legalization bill gets passed this season.