Washington has become the first state to legalize some form of sports wagering in 2020.
The Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, has signed a piece of legislation into law that would permit sports wagering at tribal gambling venues throughout the state.
With Inslee’s signing of the bill, the state of Washington has become the first US state to permit sports wagering in 2020.
Prior to the signing of the bill, HB 2638, Washington’s House of Representatives approved the bill with a vote of 83-14 earlier this month. The state’s Senate also cleared the bill with a vote of 34-15 at the start of March.
What’s covered in the bill?
Under HB 2638, residents and visitors can now legally participate in in-person sports wagering, and on-premises mobile betting to take place at land-based tribal casinos. Once sports betting goes live in the state, bettors will be able to place bets on any professional sport or athletic event including the Olympic Games and collegiate events. However, betting on minor league sports will be prohibited.
The state’s sports betting industry will be regulated by the Washington State Gambling Commission, the regulatory body will also be responsible for issuing licenses to operators.
Challenges to the bill
Despite being signed into law, not everyone is happy with the current regulatory framework for sports wagering in Washington state.
Maverick Gaming, which operates 19 licensed cardrooms across the state, is a vocal opponent of the proposed legislation. Eric Persson, Maverick’s chief executive, has said that he is prepared to fight the bill in order to protect his business.
As the bill only permits sports wagering at tribal gambling venues, commercial companies like Maverick Gaming would not benefit from the law. The company previously worked with lawmakers to produce two other bills, SB 6277 and HB 2478, which would have permitted sports betting at cardrooms and tribal casinos as well as a full online betting market.
However, both of these bills failed after not receiving a vote in the committee stages of the legislative process.
Gambling in Washington
Washington is currently homed to 21 tribes that operate 29 casinos, 21 card room operators which operate 44 card rooms and two racetracks, creating plenty of opportunities for sports betting in the state.
The state of Washington currently permits casino gambling, poker, horse racing betting, lottery games and charitable gambling activities.