• Washington sports betting bill HB 1975 would have legalized sports betting in the state, but only inside tribal casinos.
  • The Washington State Gambling Commission will be conducting public hearings in the following months to gain feedback on possibly legalizing sports betting.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Seattle Seahawk fans and other sports fanatics in the state of Washington will have a chance to voice their opinion about legal WA sports betting later this year.

The Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) will hold meetings on August 8, September 12, October 10, and November 14, 2019, at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Olympia, WA. They are expected to discuss the topic of legal sports wagering and gain input from the public.

The current WA sports betting laws only allows for a limited form of the activity which includes businesses charging up to one dollar for a sports pool board on a single event. Traditional Las Vegas-styled sports wagering such as moneylines, spreads, and totals bets can not be found in the state.

In a recent interview with The News Tribune, Executive Director of the WSGC Dave Trujillo shared his thoughts on the idea of Washington expanding its sports wagering activities.

“Historically speaking, as activities become tolerated, they become more prevalent. When they become more prevalent, they become more accepted and people will then conduct their own games or activities outside of regulated and taxable structures.”

Since the federal ban on sports betting was lifted in May of 2018, several states have launched regulated sportsbooks of some kind and even more have recently legalized the activity this year.

Tax structures on sports betting are set at different rates for each individual state. Certain jurisdictions have set their tax rate in a way to help compete with unregulated sports betting markets.

“There’s a smorgasbord of sports betting food out there because all states look to act and create the laws and regulatory program that is best for them,” said Trujillo. “So far, there’s no good model policy out there because they’re all tailored uniquely to their state and we would expect our Legislature to do the same.”

When To Expect Legal Sports Betting In Washington

In January of 2019, the WSGC voted unanimously that if the state legislature authorizes gambling on sports than they would be the primary regulatory agency over it.

Washington lawmakers then introduced bills this year in order to join other states who have hopped on board the new wave of sports betting, however, none of them passed through a legislative chamber.

The only WA sports betting bill that saw any real motion was WA HB 1975. Measures in that bill would have permitted land-based and mobile sports betting but only at tribal casinos. The proposal ended up dying in committee before it could get to a House floor vote.

A timeline for when state lawmakers can get a proposal to a floor vote is yet to be determined. The 2020 legislative session only lasts 60 days while the 2021 Legislative session will last a total of 105 days.

“It’s pretty remarkable how quickly other states have jumped into sports betting,” said Trujillo. “To me at least, there’s a lot to be learned by seeing what others do, borrowing from the success of others and learning from the mistakes of others. That can take some time.”

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