Bill to expand sports betting introduced in state Legislature

A similar proposal failed last year, but supporters say the new effort has bipartisan support.

By Nicholas K. Geranios / Associated Press

SPOKANE — A bill to expand sports gambling in Washington state beyond Indian casinos and into privately-owned card rooms has been introduced in the state Legislature for the second consecutive year.

The Senate bill seeks to expand sports betting to include the state’s licensed card rooms and horse race tracks and is once again being pushed by Nevada-based Maverick Gaming.

A similar proposal failed last year, but supporters say the new effort has bipartisan support and could provide revenues to help the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last session, lawmakers approved sports gambling for Native American tribes, but that has yet to take effect as government compacts are still being negotiated. Lawmakers at the same time rebuffed a bill seeking to open sports gambling to non-tribal competition.

But that happened before the pandemic damaged the economy.

Maverick Gaming chief executive Eric Persson said the company remained committed to improving the economy of Washington state.

The bill “lays out a modest approach that will generate economic opportunity for our workforce, create approximately 10 new jobs at each of our 19 locations, and help spark pandemic relief efforts by contributing tens of millions of new tax dollars to local and state programs,” he said.

Senate Bill 5212 is co-sponsored by Republican state Sen. Curtis King of Yakima and Democratic floor leader Sen. Marko Liias of Lynnwood. It would apply only to existing card rooms and racetracks. It allows for online sports gambling, but only within the limits of the gaming venues.

Persson, a Hoquiam native whose company controls 19 of Washington’s 44 licensed card rooms, has estimated up to $50 million in state taxes can be generated annually off sports gambling.

For decades, tribal casinos have operated most of the legalized gambling in Washington. The state allows limited gambling outside tribal facilities in “card room” casinos, but only card games such as blackjack and some poker are allowed.

The pressure to legalize sports gambling has grown nationwide 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.

Individual states can now determine their own course and Washington joined two dozen others last year in legalizing it in some form.

State lawmakers have long argued that Washington’s tribal casinos have a three-decade record of offering safe, responsible gambling.

The Washington Indian Gaming Association, which represents the interests of tribal casinos, opposed the proposal last year and will oppose it again this year, executive director Rebecca George said.

Tribes have shown they know how to properly offer gambling, employ about 30,000 people statewide, and use gambling revenues to fund their operations and social programs, George said.

“We’re talking about government gaming,” George said. “The money goes into government programs. We’re not an out-of-state corporation.”

Granting card rooms the right to offer sports betting “takes money out of poor communities,” George said.

Under the 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.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Glacier Peak took on Cascade in football at Everett Memorial Stadium on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Prep football preview: Storylines, teams, players, games to watch

Everything you need to know about Snohomish County high school football during this shortened season.

Granite Falls' Riley Hoople makes a reception with Sultan's Derek Feltner defending Friday night in Sultan on February 26, 2021 (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
This week’s prep football schedule, picks and streaming links

Click on the game to watch your favorite team in action Friday night and all day Saturday.

Volleyball players in Wesco took the court for competition this week for the first time in the over 15 months. (Herald file photos)
Prep volleyball season preview

Local teams, players and games to watch this season.

Everett Community College’s Trojan mascot (left) poses with Everett Silvertips mascot, Lincoln. (Provided photo)
Silvertips, EvCC announce partnership to house players

Everett’s billeting program is on hold to respect health and safety protocols forced by the pandemic.

Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert (24), looks to drive against Pacific forward Jeremiah Bailey (13), during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stockton, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Gonzaga won 76-58. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Edmonds native Kispert named WCC player of the year

Former local hoops stars Paisley Johnson Harding and Jordyn Edwards also received All-WCC honors.

Everett High School graduate Jayden White (right), a University of Washington freshman, poses next to throws coach Andrew Ninow after breaking the Huskies' school record in the weight throw last Friday. (Photo by Jamie Mitchell)
Community sports roundup: Everett H.S. grad breaks UW record

Jayden White broke UW’s weight throw record, highlighting a success-filled week for local athletes.

High School football teams across Snohomish County are closing in on their first game in over a year. (Herald file photos)
Prep football: Key games and the area’s complete schedule

The first H.S. football game in the county in over a year is set to take place this coming Friday.

A Marysville Pilchuck football player sports a spear on his helmet as the Tomahawks took on Snohomish in the Wesco 3A Championship Friday evening at Quil Ceda Stadium on November 1, 2019. School district leaders may soon need to consider dropping Marysville Pilchuck High School’s mascot, the Tomahawks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Should Marysville Pilchuck High drop the name ‘Tomahawks’?

A state bill would ban Native American mascots and symbols from schools — unless there is tribal permission.

Dawn Trudeau (Seattle Storm)
13 years ago this month, they bought the Seattle Storm

Dawn Trudeau and her partners didn’t foresee the challenges — or the championships — that were in store.

FILE - Washington's Asa Turner (20) celebrates with Kamren Fabiculanan (31) after Turner intercepted a pass in the final minute of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State in Seattle, in this Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, file photo. Washington won 27-21. Washington has pulled out of the Pac-12 football championship game due to COVID-19 issues in the Huskies program, and Oregon will now play No. 13 USC for the conference title on Friday instead.  Washington (3-1) announced Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, it is withdrawing from the championship game after determining the Huskies did not have at least 53 scholarship players available and did not meet the minimum number of scholarship athletes at specific positions.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Washington’s 2021 football schedule released

Huskies head coach Jimmy Lake is hopeful that fans will be allowed as soon as the spring game May 1.

Washington State running back Deon McIntosh (3) celebrates after scoring against Utah during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Washington State’s 2021 football schedule released

The Cougars open the season with three straight home games and six of their first eight in Pullman.

Seattle Mariners' Dylan Moore, right, is congratulated by teammate Kyle Lewis after hitting a solo home run off of Texas Rangers starting pitcher Kolby Allard during the third inning of a baseball game, Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Servais on Dylan Moore: ‘He’s a ball player’

Mariners’ super-utility player looks to build on a breakout season.