Washington State Gives Thumbs Up to Sports Betting

It seems that the state of Washington is finally legalizing betting on sports. However, everyone who wants to enjoy this activity will have to go to the nearest tribal casino.

In other words, betting will be available, but only for tribal casinos, and the only way to place a bet is to go there in-person. That said, there will be no online or mobile betting until further notice in the state.

Wednesday was an important day for Washington, as its Governor Jay Inslee officially signed a document called HB 2638, which is a sports betting bill that was approved by the state’s senate.

According to the bill, a total of 29 federally recognized tribes in the state will now have an opportunity to offer sports betting. However, the state first needs to renegotiate the gaming compacts with each tribal group individually.

Naturally, the good news comes too little too late, as basically all of the casinos in the Washington state are currently closed due to the coronavirus. Therefore, to celebrate the legalization of sports betting, residents of Washington will have to wait before casinos — both commercial and tribal — open their doors again.

Even if the casinos were fully operating, bettors wouldn’t have many options as all the major leagues in sports have been shut down due to the coronavirus.

No Online Betting in Washington Yet

The lawmakers in Washington made mobile betting available, but bettors will have to be physically present inside of a casino to use the limited betting option on their mobile devices.

However, placing online bets within the borders of Washington state is not permitted, and engaging in one such act will be considered a Class C felony.

There’s also an emergency clause in the bill that states that there’s no need to hold a state-wide referendum related to sports betting, that would otherwise require at least 60% of voters to approve it. The reason why this was skipped was the “immediate preservation of the public peace.”

Moreover, other listed reasons include “public health and safety,” as well as “support of the state government and its existing public institutions.”

Naturally, some companies that run commercial casinos, such as Maverick Gaming, were not satisfied with the decision to award the sports betting licenses to tribal casinos only. They lobbied the government to make a new bill that would be more inclusive towards commercial casinos, letting them take part in the betting market as well.

On top of that, commercial operators also required mobile wagering to become available in Washington. Finally, Maverick Gaming was quite clear that there would be room to challenge the bill, especially because it was approved with no referendum.

Washington is the first state in 2020 to approve sports betting, after more than three months. Lawmakers of many other states seem to be waiting for the coronavirus crisis to pass before they start taking further steps in the legalization process.

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