Governor Jay Inslee just needs to sign WA HB 2638 and sports betting is coming to Washington.

  • Bill WA HB 2638 has passed in Washington to make sports betting legal.
  • Under the bill, both professional and collegiate sporting events would be available for wagers.
  • Profits from the new gambling market could bring in millions for the economy of the Evergreen State.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Having only a week left in their legislative session, WA HB 2638 to legalize sports betting in Washington passed in the Senate late Thursday night. The vote came down to 34 YEAS and 15 NAYS, having more than two-thirds of the committee members in favor of legalization.

Now that WA HB 2638 has passed in both the House and Senate, it will move on to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for his approval. If Inslee signs, sports betting in Washington will officially become available.

What Does WA HB 2638 Allow?

Bill WA HB 2638 allows for sports betting through Washington’s tribal-state gaming compacts. Retail sportsbooks would be eligible to open at Tribal casinos.

No internet or mobile platforms would be available. However, in the future Tribes could open up sports betting applications but they could only be used while on Tribal grounds.

Potential Problems

Maverick Gaming has stated they will invest millions of dollars in fighting WA HB 2638 from becoming law. The company owns 19 card rooms in Washington and from the very start asked to be included within the bill.

Their case is backed up on the grounds that the issue of sports betting is not one that should have been put under an emergency status the way that WA HB 2638 was.

Maverick said they would pay up to $30 million in legal fees to stop the Governor from putting his signature on the bill. The company has been very vocal about their plan of action if the bill passed through the House and Senate, which it has as of March 5.

“On behalf of our 2,200 employees and their families who live and work here in Washington State, we are profoundly disappointed that the State Senate has approved a tax-free monopoly for sports betting in Tribal casinos that is also tied to a manufactured ’emergency’ to prevent a public vote,’’ said Eric Persson, CEO of Nevada-based Maverick.

“There is a win for all licensed gaming establishments that helps both Tribal and non-Tribal communities and lawmakers have decided not to pursue it, giving up millions of dollars in tax revenue that could support local and state priorities.”

What Now?

The Evergreen State is very excited by the passing of WA HB 2638 as it will allow sports bettors to locally gamble on the Seattle Seahawks among other teams. Sponsor Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds) sees his bill as a stepping stone that will open the pathway for the residents of Washington to begin gambling legally in their state.

“The 29 tribes in Washington State have a deep historical experience overseeing responsible gaming for three decades,” said W. Ron Allen, CEO of Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe after the bill passed. “We have a trusted, successful partnership with the state where we have effectively managed gaming in a controlled environment and avoided widespread expansion.”

The sports betting market would be a lucrative one for Washington. The Tribes have proved themselves to be knowledgeable in the gaming business, knowing the ins and outs to make gambling on sporting events a profitable expansion.

If Governor Jay Inslee signs the bill, Washington sports bettors could see their first bets happening by the start of the NFL season, if not by 2021. The Governor has anywhere from five to twenty days to sign the bill after it’s been delivered to him.

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