Washington Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-District 37) believes that sports betting should be added to the list of gaming options that are offered at Washington state tribal casinos.
During an informational hearing before the House Commerce and Gaming Committee for HB1975 on Thursday, Pettigrew said, “One of the things that I like in going to a casino is that I get to lose my money slower. Now, instead of going to a machine or the blackjack table, and dropping my money in 15 minutes, I get a whole two or four or six hours, and all that time, I’m eating and drinking and spending money. … It’s just another opportunity for those facilities to add another tool to their toolbox, as a way to drive dollars into their buildings, as well as driving those dollars back out into the community.”
On-Site Betting Online
Pettigrew’s bill would only allow for sports betting at tribal locations, and mobile betting would only be allowed on-site.
Multiple representatives asked Pettigrew if he would be open to expanding sports betting to convenience stores or other locations, such as the Emerald Downs racetrack, but Pettigrew declined. He made it clear that voters in Washington only want gaming on tribal lands.
Will Tribal Sports Betting Kill The Competition?
During the public witness part of the hearing, the committee heard multiple scathing comments against tribal-only sports betting.
Zach Lindahl, state government affairs coordinator for the Washington Hospitality Association, was one voice against tribal-only gaming. Lindahl said that “an unfair advantage” would be given to those who can offer sports betting.
Pat LePley, president of Washington Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, made an even bigger statement. LePley stated, “If we’re left behind and not allowed to add to our toolbox as tribes are trying to do here, you won’t fatally kill us right away, but you’ll wound us so badly, that we’re going to die and go away pretty soon.”
Who Supports What?
Of those who are against the bill in its current form, all have testified that they would support sports betting if it were to be open to all and included a broader mobile option.
On the other hand, tribal representatives testified that they would back a bill that only allows for sports betting on tribal lands. Rebecca Kaldor, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, said that they support legalization of sports betting, as long as it is conducted pursuant to Class III Tribal-State gaming compacts.
With southern neighbor Oregon preparing to launch sports betting through its lottery later this year, Washington may want to move quickly to legalize sports betting in the state. It’s just a matter of agreeing on who can offer sports betting and where.