SEATTLE — The chance to bet on sporting events is a step closer to reality in Washington state after a House appropriations committee approved a bill allowing tribal casinos to offer such bets.
The committee voted 25-7 on Tuesday to send the bill to the full House for a vote before the session ends on March 13. The proposal would also have to pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
The House bill is sponsored by state Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, who told The Seattle Times on Tuesday evening that he hoped to move forward quickly.
”I’m hoping that we can get it on to the floor next week,” he said. “I still need to talk to a lot of people about it and make everybody comfortable with it, because it is an expansion of gambling.”
Floor votes in both branches of the Legislature require a 60% majority to pass gambling-expansion laws.
Rep. Drew Stokesbary, the committee’s top Republican, voted in favor of the proposal.
”This is a reasonable middle ground,” Stokesbary said. ”It permits adults who are responsible to engage in an activity that doesn’t harm other people. But it doesn’t make it so prevalent or so pervasive in our society that we as a legislature have to worry about the morality and ethics of that.”
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a 1992 federal law prohibiting sports betting in most states. Since the law’s repeal, it’s been up to individual states to decide their own sports-gambling course and 14 have now legalized it, with roughly two dozen more working through legislation to do so.
The bill that passed Tuesday would allow the state’s 29 tribal casinos to offer betting on both professional and college sports as well as Olympic events and e-sports. But gambling on games involving Washington colleges, both public and private, would still be outlawed.
Tuesday’s vote was a defeat for Nevada-based Maverick Gaming LLC, which owns 19 of 44 “card room” casinos in this state that offer limited card gambling. It backed companion bills allowing sports betting in such facilities and racetracks as well as the tribal casinos, but neither made it out of committee.