Gaming Company Lobbies For Sports Betting Expansion In Washington

A Nevada-based gambling company is pushing for sports betting in Washington state to expand beyond just tribal casinos.

According to reports from local media, Maverick Gaming is lobbying for the passage of SB 5212, a bill recently introduced in the state’s legislature that would authorize sports betting at the cardrooms and racetracks.

Last March, Gov. Jay Inslee signed ESHB 2638, which legalized sports wagering, but only at tribal casinos. The state and the tribes are still working out the specifics of the deal, so the market has yet to launch.

The latest sports betting proposal, which is sponsored by Sen. Curtis King, a Republican, and Sen. Marko Liias, a Democrat, would tax revenue from sportsbooks at 10% and would charge a $100,000 licensing fees to racetracks and cardrooms that create a sportsbook.

Neither King nor Liias were sponsors on the original sprots betting legislation, that was passed last year.

Maverick Gaming owns 19 cardrooms in Washington and would be one of the biggest beneficiaries from the bill’s passage. Its CEO, Eric Persson told a local ABC affiliate that his properties alone would raise large amounts of tax revenue for the state.

“This is the best type of tax, consumption tax. It doesn’t tax the people who don’t want to participate in it,” said Persson. “We estimate we can raise $50 million annually in taxes.”

SB 5212 is currently being reviewed by the Senate’s Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs committee. During a public hearing a few days ago, the Washington Indian Gaming Association argued that the expansion would siphon money away from the poor native communities that the tribes’ casinos support.

The Washington State Gambling Commission also added that there were “technical” problems with the way the proposal was written.

Persson has shown a willingness to fight for expansion since the bill’s passage last year. He threatened to take the fight to the courts after Rep. Strom Peterson implemented an emergency clause so that the bill didn’t need a ballot referendum to become law.

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