Tribal casinos given green light
A Washington state House floor vote held Thursday night approved a sports gambling bill that would allow tribal casinos in the state to offer sports betting for the first time.
The House approved bill HB-2638 by 83-14 after a hastily arranged hearing to complete the vote by a March 13 deadline.
Worries over momentum
The latest vote took place to ensure the safe passage of the bill, which could see Governor Jay Inslee implement its legislation by springtime.
There were worries that momentum would slow down after Maverick Gaming LLC opposed the proposed measure. As this year is already a shortened session for both the House and Senate, additional delays could have hindered the bill from advancing further.
Sponsor Representative Peterson was keen to get the floor to sit after a House Appropriations Committee agreed it could pass forward just 48 hours earlier. An accompanying emergency amendment prevented the vote from being subjected to a statewide referendum.
A vote on companion Senate bill SB-6394 will need to take place before the March 13 deadline for HB-2638 to advance to Gov. Inslee’s desk.
“A good middle path”
Following the nighttime hearing, Representative Peterson said he was incredibly proud of the strong, bipartisan vote attained. He added:
We have found a good middle path that supports our tribal partners, allows adults to safely access sports betting and protects our youth.”
Legal opinion sought on emergency amendment
Maverick Gaming has since released a legal opinion it had sought from former State Senator and Washington Supreme Court Judge Philip A. Talmadge on the emergency amendment.
Talmadge saw no need to rush either bill HB-2638 or SB-6394. He concluded that this did not constitute an “emergency” for the state as there would be no direct tax revenue derived from the tribal casinos. He also stated there was no immediate threat to “public peace, health or safety” to warrant the amendment.
The proposed bill also limits online gambling activities to take place within tribal casinos. Currently, online betting in Washington state is down as a Class C felony.
SB-6394 now awaits the Senate’s decision on the companion bill before it can reach Gov. Inslee’s desk.