Could sports betting be in Washington state’s future?
With 20 states around the country making moves toward allowing sports betting thanks to a May 14 Supreme Court decision, some lawmakers in Olympia hope that Washington will soon follow suit.
Before the Supreme Court voted to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, Nevada had been the only state in which sports betting was permitted.
Sixth Legislative Dist. Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that while he doesn’t see sports betting on the table anytime soon for Washington, he believes allowing it would be a good move.
“I don’t think it’ll happen in the near future — it’s something that I think should happen,” he said.
Baumgartner pointed out that gambling is already popular in Washington through the state’s 29 casinos.
“The tribal gaming interests really have a lot of political influence in Olympia, so I think if it does happen in Washington state, which I think it eventually will … the tribal gaming interests will probably be a player at the table,” Baumgartner predicted.
He added that the current ban on sports betting in Washington makes little sense considering that the state itself runs a giant gambling event in the form of the Washington Lottery.
“It’s especially strange because the biggest proponent of gambling in this state is the state itself, with the lottery,” he said, noting that, because buyers of lottery tickets tend to come from the lower socio-economic classes, the lottery is effectively a “tax on the poor.”
Sports betting is a significant potential source of revenue for a state, Baumgartner said, and he observed that there never seems to be enough money for every program that the state wants to have.
“Eventually somebody is going to want that money, and I think they’ll probably work a deal where they cut the tribes into the agreement,” he said.