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SBD Staff Writer

by SBD Staff Writer

Updated Feb 21, 2023 · 4:37 PM PST

Washington was the 21st state and first in 2020 to legalize sports betting.

Steps to legalize picked up steam after the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned on May 14, 2018. On that day, courts voted to allow each state to propose and create their own laws and regulations for sports betting.

In March 2020, legislation was signed to allow legal in-person and mobile sports betting at tribal casinos in the state. This was a massive change for the sports fans and bettors in the Evergreen State. Washington was the only state in the country that didn’t even allow residents to play daily fantasy games, so legalizing sports betting was a far cry.  Unlike other states where DFS sites were operating as “games of skill,” Washington law prohibits DFS games and things like brackets and sports pools.

In addition to sports betting, Washington bettors can legally attend and wager on horse racing, both on-track and off-track, play the lottery, charitable games, and bingo.

Washington Sports Betting at a Glance

In early 2020, the House and Senate successfully passed a bill, ESHB 2638, which Governor Jay Inslee approved in March. The legislation ensures any tribal casino can offer retail betting at their location. Online wagering will also be allowed but only while physically on-site at one of these locations. One stipulation is that bettors will not be able to wager on in-state college teams.

With 24 local tribes operating 30 casinos in Washington, there are 30 potential locations to offer legal sports betting in the near future. If any of the tribes intend on offering sports betting, they must renegotiate compacts with the state and create the necessary infrastructure. To date, four of the state’s tribes have begun such conversations.

Further regulations on taxation and licensing fees still need to be worked on by the state’s gambling commission. With other more pressing matters to deal with during the pandemic, it’s unlikely that an official launch will be before mid-2021. The Washington State Gambling Commission said in early 2021 that it expects to be in position to reveal proposed rules for sports betting by spring 2021.

That being said, there is one wildcard in Washington’s plans to legalize sports betting. Governor Inslee enacted an emergency clause making the bill legal immediately once he signed it. The reason stated was to end the illegal gambling market and move funds towards the state’s gambling regulators.

However, Maverick Gaming and CEO Eric Persson are planning a lawsuit, stating the emergency clause was to sidestep a referendum vote on allowing sports betting only on tribal lands. Persson’s company owns 19 cardrooms in the state and had lobbied for separate bills, HB 2478 and SB 6277, to have sports betting legal in cardrooms as well.

Where to Bet on Sports in Washington

While sports betting was legalized in March 2020, an official launch date has yet to be set. Local tribes that want to offer sports betting need to sign compacts with the state before launching.

Washington Sports Betting FAQs

Can you bet sports in Washington?

Washington is the 21st state to legalize sports betting. Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation to authorize sports wagers in tribal casinos only on March 25, 2020.

How many casinos are in Washington State?

Washington State is home to 30 casinos, which are operated by one of the 24 local tribes.

Which pro sports teams play in Washington State?

Seattle is home to the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders, Seattle Mariners,  Seattle Storm, and a future NHL team called Seattle Kraken.

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