Sportsbetting legislation introduced in Washington

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In Washington, legislation was reportedly introduced late last week that seeks to give sportsbetting aficionados in the western state the ability to place land-based and mobile wagers while inside any local tribal casino.

House Bill 1975:

According to a Monday report from The Seattle Times newspaper, House Bill 1975 (pdf) was introduced by Eric Pettigrew from the Washington House of Representatives on Friday and is now due to be considered by that body’s Commerce and Gaming Committee from tomorrow.

Optimistic forecast:

The newspaper reported that the 58-year-old Democrat’s legislation, which received immediate support from seven other members of the 98-seat Washington House of Representatives, could be fully ratified as early as the spring to allow punters in ‘The Evergreen State’ to place wagers on a range of collegiate and professional sports.

PASPA consequences:

The introduction of House Bill 1975 follows May’s invalidation by the United States Supreme Court of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which had largely been responsible for limiting legalized sportsbetting to casinos in Nevada. The states of Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Mexico soon reacted to this decision by passing their own sports wagering legislation while a further 31 others, including Washington, are currently weighing up whether to follow suit.

Tribal negotiations:

As currently written, House Bill 1975 would limit sportsbetting to customers that are ‘physically present on the premises of the gaming facility of the Indian tribe or tribal entity.’ But, Chris Stearns from the Washington State Gambling Commission told the newspaper that its ratification could lead to the activity being legalized beyond these boundaries.

Washington is home to 29 federally-recognized tribes and the proposed legislation, which would not cover horseracing, reportedly declares that sportsbetting would be limited to Class III establishments ‘except where carefully and specifically authorized and regulated.’

Stearns to The Seattle Times…

“The limits are actually not very big. The bill doesn’t say very much. But, the way federal Indian gaming law works is, just as long as the state permits something it opens the door for the tribes to operate based on what they negotiate. So, it may look limited, but it just opens the door to what the tribes can negotiate with the governor.”





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