• Two bills to legalize sports betting were discussed on the floors of the House and Senate in Washington.
  • Each bill was given the Committee floor and one received a vote to move up while another did not receive any vote at all.
  • The state is pressed for time this session as it will only last for a 60 day period, so decisions need to be expedited.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Both the House and Senate in Washington heard bills to legalize sports betting on Thursday. The House bill was for tribal operations in the state while the Senate bill differed as it allows both commercial and tribal outlets. The bills that took the floor on Thursday had mixed reviews.

Senate Bill On The Table

Senate bill WA SB 6277, was presented to the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce. If made into law, it would allow for both retail and internet sports betting platforms. This bill is all-inclusive for all gambling operations in the state to operate a sportsbook.

Wagering on sporting events could potentially bring in millions of dollars of revenue as it’s been an untapped market.

Sponsor of the bill, Senate committee member Curtis King said, “In this instance, the state of Washington is going to participate in the benefit and taxes that can be generated. That’s all we’re asking for.”

However, opposition over this WA SB 6277 came when there was talk of the online gambling aspect. Many speakers believe that venturing into internet wagering is a slippery slope. Having it so accessible could lead to problem gambling among the residents of the Evergreen State.

“Senate Bill 6277 will allow largely unrestricted online and mobile sports betting to take place in every community across Washington state,” said representative Yasmin Trudeau of the Attorney General’s office.

Amendments would be needed in order for this bill to move forward. Members would like to see more restrictions placed on the internet and mobile wagering part of the proposal. No vote was made on it at the end of the discussion but it was generally not well received overall.

House Bill Discussion

Back at the House Committee on Commerce & Gaming, WA HB 2638, a bill sponsored by Representative Strom Peterson, took center stage.

This bill would allow tribal compacts to include sportsbook operations at their places of business. The legalization of WA HB 2638 would not allow for internet sports betting but would allow all tribal locations in the state to open retail sportsbooks.

Senate committee member Brandon Vick said that he was not for this bill as it’s been written. He believes there is “more work to be done for modernization.” Modernization in this instance meaning an online platform for wagering.

Vick has his own bill for sports betting that was not heard on Thursday. His bill WA HB 2478 would include both tribal land-based businesses as well as internet sportsbooks.

However, it did not receive a hearing date on the docket. It was said that if certain amendments could be made in such a short session that WA HB 2638 could move on to pass into law. This year’s legislative session in Washington is only 60 days from start to finish.

When it came time to vote, eight were in favor while two were not, passing the bill to move forward out of the House of Commerce & Gaming.

The Takeaway

The House bill in the Evergreen State seems the most likely of the two to pass in this session if any should pass at all. While both bills require amendments, it was the House bill that saw progress with a positive Committee vote.

No vote was made for the Senate bill and it was not as well-received as the one in the House. The state of Washington may very well see the  legalization of sports betting in 2020 if the bill or bills can be amended as needed for either to become law.

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