Sports betting fans in the US state of Washington will soon be able to bet on their favourite sports, following action taken by legislators in the state on Thursday night.
Politicians in the Washington senate voted to give the go ahead to an emergency piece of legislation that will legalise sports betting in all tribal casinos in the state.
The bill, EHB 2638, came with some controversy, as many card room casino venues in the state had objected that the move could deny the Washington state treasury as much as $50 million in annual tax revenue. But despite the controversy, there will be no need for a state referendum on the bill, thanks to an additional emergency provision that was added to it.
The bill must be reapproved by the state House before the end of the current legislative session that ends on March 12, but that is apparently regarded as a formality.
In a statement after the passing of the bill, the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe CEO, W.Ron Allen, welcomed the change:
“The 29 tribes in Washington State have a deep historical experience overseeing responsible gaming for three decades. We have a trusted, successful partnership with the state where we have effectively managed gaming in a controlled environment and avoided widespread expansion.”
Opponents of the legalisation of sports betting in tribal casinos include the card room betting operator Maverick Gaming, and there is likely to be a concerted legal push to challenge the new laws, although the options will be limited.
Sports betting is illegal in the state of Washington, but the territory has been affected, as the rest of the US, by the repeal of the PASPA Act by the US Supreme Court in 2018. A number of other states in the US have taken the step of setting up legalised sports betting sectors. Tribal gaming is particularly controversial in Washington as the state derives no revenue from this sector, the only state in the US where this is the case.