Washington Senate to vote on legalizing sports betting.

  • Legal sports betting in Washington is closer than ever with the passing of WA HB 2638.
  • The next step in the process is for companion bill WA SB 6384 to pass through the committee stage.
  • The Legislature in Washington adjourns on March 13, making the need for decisions on legal sports betting to be made before then.

OLYMPIA, Wash.Legal sports betting in Washington is on the cusp of becoming a reality as WA HB 2638 was passed in the House by a vote of 83 YEAS and 14 NAYS on Thursday evening. WA HB 2638 is a companion bill to WA SB 6394. Both bills would legalize sports betting through Tribal-State gaming compacts.

The sponsor of the newly passed House Bill, Representative Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds), was very pleased with the outcome of the hearing.

“Incredibly proud of the strong 83-14 bipartisan vote,” said Peterson. “We have found a good middle path that supports our tribal partners, allows adults to safely access sports betting and protects our youth.”

What’s Next For Washington Sports Betting?

Now that WA HB 2638 was passed, the next step is for WA SB 6394 to take the floor. The Senate bill will be presented to the Ways & Means Committee on February 20.

Should WA SB 6394 make its way through the Committee the way it’s companion bill did, documents to legalize sports betting could be placed on Governor Jay Inslee’s desk this spring for his signature. The Legislative sessions in Washington adjourn on March 13. A decision needs to be made before then in order for the Governor to have the proper paperwork to either legalize or veto the bills.

Possible Legal Issues

These bills have been moving so quickly through the House because they have been under an “Emergency Clause” status. Commercial gaming businesses in Washington that feel slighted by not being included within the bills nor being given the time for amendments to be made for inclusion due to the quick pace could pursue legal action against the state.

“An emergency clause to this legislation, claiming that either bill is necessary for the immediate preservation of public peace, health, or safety is highly suspect and will only ensure lengthy litigation testing such a legislative assertion,” wrote Washington Supreme Court Judge Philip A. Talmadge.

Maverick Gaming would be within their rights to cause legal problems for Washington in regards to sports betting legalization. Any lawsuits would delay the process of opening sportsbooks should the bills become law. Maverick owns card rooms in Washington and wanted to expand into sports betting. Had they been included in the bills, this wouldn’t be a potential issue down the line for lawmakers.

The Legislature in Washington maintains that they prefer to keep the sports betting market exclusive to the Tribes. Tribal casinos have the proper experience and knowledge to be able to regulate gambling on sporting events in the Evergreen State. WA SB 6394 will see the floor on February 20 and with any luck, Washington sports betting will move toward a reality in 2020.

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