Washington Legislature

  • Washington sports betting was originally legalized in March of 2020.
  • Current sports betting laws in Washington state that sportsbooks can only operate inside of tribal casinos.
  • Senate Bill 5212 is seeking to expand the market to allow cardrooms and racetracks to also host sportsbooks.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A new Washington sports betting bill has been filed in the state Senate, aiming to expand a market that has yet to even launch.

On Wednesday, Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima) and majority floor leader Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) introduced SB 5212 to the Senate Labor, Commerce, and Tribal Affairs Committee. The bill is aiming to allow the state’s cardrooms and racetracks to also host sportsbooks in Washington.

Sports betting in Washington was originally legalized in March of 2020 but the current laws only allow for tribal sportsbooks to operate sportsbooks. But, those sportsbooks have yet to launch because of ongoing tribal compact negotiations.

A similar bill to SB 5212 was introduced in last year’s legislative session but failed to pass. However, with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the state’s financial health, any additional tax revenue could be welcomed by state lawmakers. At least, this is what Maverick Gaming CEO Eric Persson is betting on.

“Some people are going to be supportive and some people aren’t, but at the end of the day the product that we’re trying to offer the state is what’s desired by constituents,’’ said Persson. “The tax revenues that we can generate are desired by Olympia.’’

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Maverick Gaming was one of the biggest lobbyists in the efforts to legalize sports betting in Washington last year.

“We’re prepared to spend $20-$30 million this election cycle to protect our 2,200 employees in the state and bring this matter to the attention of all Washingtonians to educate them about what’s gone on. Nothing’s off the table. We’ll do everything we can. Litigation, lobbying, TV ads, whatever it takes to get the message out there,” said Persson at the time.

However, those efforts failed to pass through and the COVID-19 pandemic did not help the situation.

Persson is a Washington native and Maverick Gaming operates 19 of the 44 card rooms in the Evergreen State. He has estimated that legal sports betting could generate $50 million each year to the state’s coffers and that number could get lawmakers to reconsider this time around.

“It’s no secret COVID has been devastating both in Washington and around the world,” said Persson. “I think that it’s a lot harder to turn down $100 million biennially than it was maybe a year ago.”

Maverick Gaming is also claiming that having sports betting at their venues could also provide 200 new jobs with many of them being family-wage jobs.

Details About The Bill

Some of the finer details of SB 5212 include the prohibition of betting on in-state college sports teams or players. This would include games that they play outside of state lines. Betting on esports, competitive video games, and high school sports would also not be allowed.

Maverick Gaming is also assuring lawmakers that they would still be second in line even if this bill were to be signed into law. Tribal compacts would have to be finalized before Maverick Gaming venues can even be considered for sports betting licensure.

According to Maverick’s press release, they are also asking for a $100,000 licensing fee and a 10% tax on all gross gaming revenue from sports betting.

There are 105 session days in odd-numbered years so there will be much more time this year for lawmakers to discuss this possible sports betting expansion.

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