A bill introduced into the 2023 Legislative Session looks to expand opportunities for sports wagering within the state, expanding it beyond tribal gaming and allowing for some online betting.
House Bill 1630 was introduced into the session that would place rules for wagering through sports pools and online sports by a cardroom or racetrack within the state. It would be outside the current laws that allow for sports wagering within tribal nations.
It states that this wagering would not constitute bookmaking and would not be subject to civil or criminal penalties.
If approved, a sports wagering licensee would be able to operate sports pools at a racetrack or through an internet sports pool operator.
These businesses would be required to obtain a sports wagering license that costs $100,000 at issuance.
Each licensee would be limited to a single website and mobile app, but would only be able to allow for wagering while physically within that business. Currently, Washington law prohibits any online gambling holds it as a class C felony.
Within the bill it states that “Any person who offers a sports pool or an online sports pool without a license or pursuant to a compact is guilty of a class B felony and is subject to a fine of not more than $25,000, and, in the case of a person other than a natural person, a fine of not more than $100,000.”
A state tax of 10% would be collected from the bets.
The bill would also amend state law to further legalize sports boards to be run by any person, association, or organization.
Players, officials, staff from a sports governing body, or those directly related to the sports would not be allowed to use the betting.
Before sports wagering may be conducted under the proposed change, the Washington State Gambling Commission would be required to analyze the impacts of legalized sports wagering on problem gambling, as well as evaluate and enact rules to mitigate those impacts.
There is a companion bill in Senate Bill 5587.
No local legislators have signed onto either proposed bill.
In response to the filing, Rebecca George, the Executive Director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, issued the following statement:
“Our tribal gaming system is safe, responsible, and benefits communities across Washington. The system works well and strikes the right balance. The option to participate in gaming activities is available to responsible adults, but through compacts, additional tribal investments, and community partnerships we have minimized the negative social consequences that can sometimes result from gambling.
They placed the blame for the bill introduction on Maverick Gaming, and are asking legislators to reject it.