As recently as May 2019, it was widely considered that it might be years before Washington State legalized sports betting in both online and land-based forms after the state’s legislators knocked back three separate bills that sought give sports bettors the legal green light.
My, how times have changed 180 degrees – and quickly!
Just in the last week or so, a company that owns almost half of Washington State’s “card-room” casinos threw its wholehearted support behind a new legislative push to legalize sports wagering throughout the Evergreen State in both land-based and online mobile formats.
Maverick Gaming is backing without any reservation, Washington State Legislative bills HB 2478 and SB 6277, sponsored in the State House by Representative Vick and in the State Senate by Senators King and Rivers.
Why Maverick Gaming is Now Onboard with Sports Betting
“We’ve done our best to be as inclusive and build as broad a base of support as possible for legislation we think can be successful,” commented Eric Persson, a Washington native, co-founder and CEO and co-founder of the Nevada-based Maverick Gaming, which in the past 12 months alone has purchased 19 of Washington State’s 44 card rooms and is currently looking to buy at least five more. “We’re looking forward to partnering with the Native American tribes in the state to bring a service to the Washingtonian public that there’s clearly a demand for”, Mr Persson said.
Where the last 3 bills failed when pitched at the state’s Tribal Casinos exclusively, these new ones might just succeed as they offer a more widespread and inclusive launch across a broader range of venues. Moreover, with the launch of the NHL Seattle franchise in the next 12 months, there are suddenly more stakeholders looking to explore new sports betting opportunities in the Evergreen State.
What does Washington State’s Sports Betting Legislation Entail?
The Washington State Sports Betting legislation is specifically modelled after the successful legal system in New Jersey, and upon its potential implementation would create a strict framework of regulations for a fully licensed and regulated legal sports betting marketplace.
It is anticipated that only people aged 18 or over could participate in Washington State sports betting, and that the Evergreen State would have both mobile online sports betting to accompany a fully regulated land-based sports wagering equivalent.
Only one West Coast state currently has legalized sports betting — Washington’s southernmost neighbor, Oregon.
When Oregon launched online sports betting through the state lottery format in October 2019, it became the first state to go live with only online sports wagering without a land-based component (although Tennessee has a as yet to be enforced ‘mobile only sports betting’ law on the books). There is also plenty sports betting legal activity in California, where a coalition of tribal casinos has filed for the opportunity to put a sports wagering referendum on the November 2020 state ballot.
The Clock is Already Ticking for Washington State Sports Betting in 2020
With 2020 being the combination of both an election and a non-budget year in Washington State, the legislative session which started in only mid-January, lasts a mere 60 days.
What that means for lawmakers and politicians is that they have until the end of February 2020 to consider, debate, vote and pass the twin sports betting proposals that can potentially bring sports wagering to Washington in time for March Madness.
However, the sports betting bills are competing for time on the floor with a gaggle of other bills for the lawmaker’s consideration, including proposals as diverse as adopting tax single-use plastic bags and a bill that looks to adopt California’s automotive emissions standards.
It can be seen then that it’s not a matter of if, but when Washington State goes forward with legal online sports betting.