Washington State Considering Two New Sports Betting Bills

  • Senate Bill 6277 is currently being considered by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee
  • House Bill 2478 is with the House Commerce and Gaming Committee
  • Both bills call for legal retail and online sports betting in the state of Washington
United States Capitol in Washington
Senate Bill 6277 and House Bill 2478 have been introduced by lawmakers in Washington in a bid to legalize sports betting. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Jumping on the bandwagon

Lawmakers in Washington are considering two new bills that aim to legalize certain forms of sports betting in the state.

Senate Bill 6277 is currently under consideration in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. Meanwhile, House Bill 2478 is with the House Commerce and Gaming Committee.

Details of Senate Bill 6277

Senate Bill 6277, also referred to as the Sports Wagering Act, would allow sports betting in retail locations; namely racetracks, card rooms, and tribal casinos. It would also legalize online sports betting.

would allow sports betting in retail locations; namely racetracks, card rooms, and tribal casinos

The main sponsors of this bill are Republican Senators Ann Rivers and Curtis King. SB 6277 suggests a tax rate of 10% on sports betting revenue. When it comes to gambling facilities located in tribal areas, all tax revenue would be passed to the tribe in control of that area.

The initial license fee for racetracks and card rooms would be set at $500,000. These licenses would be valid for a five-year period, needing renewal thereafter. However, there is no mention of how much it would cost to renew a license.

Proposed restrictions

Each license holder would only be able to operate a single online sportsbook, with an accompanying mobile application also allowed. 

As part of this bill, no betting on in-state college sporting events would be allowed. Residents would also be forbidden from placing bets on any fixtures involving Washington college teams out of state.

Any license holder wanting to work with a partner to operate its online sportsbook will need to secure approval from the proposed regulator of sports betting in the state, the Washington State Gambling Commission.

Anyone working in the sports betting sector in the state will need to obtain a license categorizing them as a sports betting employee. 

HB 2478, whose main sponsor is Republican Brandon Vick, effectively contains the same proposals as SB 6277.

Passage not expected this year

No indication has been given as to how much support these two bills can expect to receive in the legislature. The first legislative session in the state for 2020 only began this week. The Democrats are in control of the Senate and the House. 

As 2020 is not a budget year, the bills will be under time pressure due to the legislative session lasting only 60 days. It is likely that the bills would have to be approved by the committees before the first week of February to have any chance of passing this year. A public vote would also be required for each bill, with a majority of two-thirds needed to pass. 

the bills will be under time pressure due to the legislative session lasting only 60 days

Several bills were introduced in 2019 in a bid to legalize sports betting in Washington. However, none of them were approved by the House or the Senate following votes.

A few hearings took place in June 2019 seeking feedback from the public on potentially legalizing sports betting. These meetings were hosted by the Washington State Gambling Commission. It also had a meeting in the fall with potential sports betting stakeholders.