Committee passes plan to limit sports betting to tribal casinos

VIDEO: Sports betting appears to be getting closer to reality

The plan to make sports betting legal today won a key vote at the State Legislature, but the battle isn't over. SHB 2638 passed out of the House Appropriation Committee with a bipartisan vote of 25-7.

The conflict is with non-tribal gaming businesses like the Great American Casino in Lakewood. It's one of 19 owned by Maverick Gaming in this state.

“It's about providing a safe secure product that consumers can have confidence in and can be working within the confines of the law,” CEO Eric Persson told lawmakers at a hearing last month.

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But Indian casinos saw a threat to the revenue tribes depend on for their members.

“Tribes, they live here in Washington. We live here we work here we invest here. You know I think the dangers of widespread, bleeds the Washington economy of the profits that are generated by these non-state corporations,” said Puyallup Tribal Chair David Bean.

Maverick casinos just concluded a labor contract with the Teamsters union for their 2200 employees here in Washington state. Union support may be crucial to persuading lawmakers to allow non-tribal casinos to offer sports betting, too.

Approving sports betting will take a supermajority of 60 votes. And Republicans are divided on including non-tribal casinos.

“We've got a system of gaming in Washington that works. I think our first consideration should be let's not break it,” said House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox

“You've got folks on both sides right now,” said Republican Senate Floor Leader

Eric Persson will keep fighting to allow private operators to offer sports betting, too.

“We’re in a big fight and it’s no doubt we’re the underdogs but in the end of the day I think we’re going to come out triumphant.”