Washington Indian Gaming Association opposes sports betting expansion once more

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Following the introduction of new bipartisan bills in the Washington house and senate, the Washington Indian Gaming Association has once more come out in staunch opposition to the potential expansion of Washington sports betting outside of tribal casinos in the state. 

Sports betting was legalized in the state of Washington in 2020, with activity limited to tribal casinos only. Online gaming, online sports betting or sports betting outside of approved tribal vendors remains illegal in the state.

What bills have been introduced in 2023?

HB 1630 and SB 5587 were this week introduced, and they both propose to allow sports wagering at cardrooms and racetracks, thus expanding beyond just the remit of tribal grounds. The house bill has been referred to the Regulated Substances & Gaming Committee, with the senate bill heading to Business, Financial Services, Gaming & Trade. A date for committee consideration has not yet been set.

This is the latest chapter in an ongoing battle between the tribes and commercial operators such as Maverick Gaming (operator of cardrooms) who are pushing for sports betting beyond tribal casinos. 

What did the Washington Indian Gaming Association say?

Rebecca George, Executive Director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association has released a written statement calling for protection of tribes. 

She commented: “Our tribal gaming system is safe, responsible, and benefits communities across Washington. The system works well and strikes the right balance. The option to participate in gaming activities is available to responsible adults, but through compacts, additional tribal investments, and community partnerships we have minimized the negative social consequences that can sometimes result from gambling.

“In their own words, Maverick wants to ‘bring sports betting to the mass population of Washington.’ But Washington voters and elected officials have decisively rejected previous efforts to uproot our existing system and massively expand non-tribal gaming.

“The public’s resistance to major gambling expansions in their neighborhoods and local communities remains strong. 

“Washington State tribes continue to strongly oppose Maverick’s gambling expansion legislation. It would severely undermine Washington State’s safe and successful system of gaming and would put Washingtonians at risk, and we call on legislative leaders to once again reject it.”

Is there mobile betting in Washington or neighboring states?

Washington sports betting became legal on March 25, 2020 when Govenor Jay Inslee signed HB 2638 into law. The law allows each of the state’s federally recognised Native American tribes to offer sports betting on their lands. Although the law did not rule out online sports betting, due to the wording and limit to tribal lands, the law is effectively a retail law more than anything else.

A few tribes have limited functionality mobile betting applications but given they only work on tribal grounds, the outlay is often not worth the return. 

With regards to neighboring states, Oregon allows sports betting whereas Idahlo does not. Oregon’s sports betting is limited on mobile to the use of the DraftKings app, after the government transitioned it from the Scoreboard app in January 2022. 

Currently there are few signs as to which way the introduced legislation will go. Maverick Gaming and the Washington Indian Gaming Association have long been the 2 most vocal stakeholders in the battle for expansion, and nothing seems to have changed there.