Sports betting is making its way into Washington news with hearings being held this week by state legislators who proposed a bill that could legalize some sports gambling in Washington within tribal gaming. The bill introduced last week would not only legalize sports betting in the state’s tribal gaming casinos but it would also include online gaming at the tribal properties. The bill states that limiting sports wagering to stay within tribal facilities upholds to the state’s current policy of outlawing gambling “except where carefully and specifically authorized and regulated.” And tribal gaming has been upholding to such regulations for two decades.
House Bill 1975, sponsored by Majority Caucus Chair Eric Pettigrew (D) and seven others, calls for professional and college sports wagering to be legalized within tribal gaming facilities. The bill also calls for the legalization of online sports gaming within those same tribal facilities — which would reportedly represent a significant shift for the nation’s only state where any form of internet gambling is currently a Class C felony.
Although the bill as it stands does not really hold much in terms of limits, it is enough to open the doors for tribal negotiations with the governor. If the bill passes this spring, the negotiations are anticipated to be finalized in the next year or two.
If passed, could this bill be the one to pave the way for legalized sports betting within the state of Washington to continue to expand? I think we are still a far stretch for that progression, but time shall tell.