Washington Sports Betting Bill Comes Up Short In Many Ways

Washington Sports Betting Bill Comes Up Short In Many Ways
© USA Today

Washington state legislators believe they at least got something done with the bipartisan late-night passage of a bill that could open the state for legal sports betting this spring.

But the bill passed by the House Thursday night amounts to not much of anything. It’s a flawed, half measure that will leave customers disappointed with their options and disillusioned regarding all the hype they’d been fed about the prospect of finally placing a legal bet on the Seattle Seahawks or Mariners.

Washington state coffers won’t reflect the tax bounty these legislators had coveted since perusing revenue reports from New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

Which all means that Washington legislators will be back at it in a year, or two, max, trying to pass a fix to make everyone just a little less unhappy. That will be inevitable, once all of those potential customers in tech-savvy Washington experience the frustration and realize the absurdity of having to travel to one of 29 tribal casinos in the state to wager.

Washington Law Falls Short in Crucial Areas

Where’s this wagering on the phone, from their seat at CenturyLink Field they’d been reading about? That HB-2638 would allow mobile betting within those casinos doesn’t do much good.

Washington, unfortunately, like too many states, failed to cherry-pick the best parts of successful state models and implement them around the peculiarities of their region.

Yes, Washington’s stringent anti-gambling laws would have to be amended for the type of statewide mobile offering that has made New Jersey sportsbooks the model for sports betting implementation and sportsbooks in states like Pennsylvania increasingly lucrative.

In essence, Washington took a bad idea from North Carolina and sequestered sports betting within the confines of a collection of tribal properties, and away from where most of its 7.6 million people live. Just eight of those Washington casinos are located within 50 miles of metro Seattle.

Washington plucked another bad idea from Mississippi. If an earnest Seattle bettor opted to take the 18-mile, 71-minute journey to Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, they could actually use a mobile product on grounds under this law, which is likely to frustrate them even more considering they needed the Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry to facilitate such “convenience.”

Their phone works just fine on the other side of Elliott Bay. So should their sports betting app.

And in a notion certain to flabbergast Washingtonians, their state imported a little bit more California with this proposal by giving exclusivity to the tribes. It’s a bad idea for California sports betting and it’s a bad idea for Washington.

Legislators need to do their homework on good sports betting legislation and say no more California. Or Mississippi. Or North Carolina.

Washington lawmakers should make sports betting in their state right from the start.

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