Washington Makes Another Step Towards Legal Gambling Extension

Image by Library of Congress
Article by : Helen Mar 1, 2021

Even though each US state that wishes can legalize any type of gambling, Washington, D.C., has always been known for its strict gambling prohibitions. Considering the fact that gambling prohibition often leads to a spike in underground gambling, many states have already legalized at least several types of gambling activities. Now, it’s time for Washington to review its gambling rules. In summer 2020, D.C. Lottery launched the “GameBetDC” platform, which allowed the locals to make bets on major sports events worldwide.

Financial resources coming from gambling taxes are a great way to fill the budget holes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering this fact, Republican Senator Curtis King and his Democratic counterpart Marko Lilas filed a Senate Bill 5212 that is supposed to enable betting at cardrooms and racetracks, both online and in-person.

If the bill passes all the required steps to turn into a part of the state’s gambling law, all patrons aged 18 and above will be able to visit brick-and-mortar and online cardrooms and racetracks. To provide punters with these gambling activities, operators will have to apply for the corresponding license and pay a US$100,000 license fee. There also will be a 10% tax imposed on the gross gaming revenue. Each gambling facility holding the license will be able to cooperate with a third-party casino software supplier that, in turn, should also hold a Casino Service Industry Enterprise license. It is also worth mentioning that betting on the college sports events taking place in Washington will be prohibited, according to the bill.

As expected, there is no unanimous thought of cardrooms legalization. Washington tribes oppose the upcoming gambling extension, allegedly because the proposed bill will enable mobile gambling statewide instead of allowing it in tribal facilities only. So far, only certain types of card games are allowed in non-tribal gambling venues. These include Blackjack, Baccarat, and some Poker games.

If passed, this legislation would cause real and lasting harm to the tribes and to the state’s economy. It would also undermine the safe and deliberate framework that the state and the tribes have developed carefully over the last 30 years.

Rebecca George, Washington Indian Gaming Commission executive director

George also pointed out that tribal casinos are one of the major financial sources for the tribes. Anyway, the bill has many supporters as well. For example, the owner of Maverick Gaming, Eric Persson, claimed that the bill would allow the state and local budgets to receive an additional USD50 million a year in gambling taxes provided by his company. The bill would also allow him to open 200 new job offerings in his 19 facilities across Washington. “It creates a lot of family-wage jobs that are needed during this pandemic. It creates a lot of tax dollars that are needed both at the state and, very importantly, at the local level,” pointed out Eric Persson. At the same time, Persson expressed respect for the tribes and their rights and promised not to launch anything until the tribal compacts are concluded.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court canceled a 1992 federal law that banned betting on sports events in almost all states, the trend of legalizing sports wagering burst out. As of now, 25 states and the District of Columbia have already legalized betting on sports, and more states, including Washington, are on their way.


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