As Washington’s gambling commission prepare for a second year of discussions over the legalization of sports betting, executive director Dave Trujillo is predicting a surge in the black market when it comes to illegal wagers collected for these events.
In a recent interview, Trujillo told the News Tribune “Historically speaking, as activities become tolerated, they become more prevalent. When they become more prevalent, they become more accepted and people will then conduct their own games or activities outside of regulated and taxable structures.”
Although the U.S. Supreme Court banned all forms of sports betting in 50 states little over a year ago, Nevada along with 8 others have begun to entertain the idea of wagering on sports. This includes the District of Columbia, where the bill has been passed but not yet come into effect.
The Current Sports Betting Landscape
Back in January, 5 members from the Gambling Commission all voted for the Commission to become the official regulatory body that has the final say if the legislature authorizes any gambling expansions within the United States.
Although sports betting is considered legal in Washington already, there are limitations on how it is regulated. Betting companies and services are permitted to charge up to $1 per square on 100-square sports pool boards per individual game, such as the Super Bowl; however, the number of people actually wagering this way is very low according to state officials.
Major sports such as NCAA basketball are perfectly legal to bet on in Washington. Wagers on collegial sports is also ok, but has faced backlash in the past over organizers unlawfully pocketing customer money. Despite this, gambling sites have proved to be the biggest offenders when it comes to illegal sports betting and ripping people off. The reason it has been difficult to contain is because the majority of sites are run by off-shore entities that the state have no jurisdiction or control over.
Brian Considine is the Gambling Commission’s legislative manager who said, “If you want to bet in this state illegally, it might take you a lot of energy and effort, but eventually the way you’re going to do it is online. In fact, even if you find an illegal bookie somewhere, they’re going to probably direct you to an online website that’s offshore because that’s managing their risk.”
Sports Season Rush
Trujillo reckons the strain from the gambling expansion will begin in Vancouver. He said “Washington residents are going to say to Washington legislators, ‘Hey, this is just miles down the road. Why don’t we do something to keep the play in our state rather than going to contribute to the coffers of Oregon?’”
The Oregon Lottery Commission are said to be hiring a firm to look at the framework for online sports betting. It will begin with a mobile app just in time for the beginning of NFL season, where residents of Washington should also be able to place wagers, but it would only be legal if they are actually in Oregon at the time.
“So if someone’s within their state (boundaries), they can place a bet on their mobile phone. But if they’re not, they get kicked off,” Trujillo said.
Washington’s bill was approved this year, but has not yet come into fruition. It should see sports betting permitted at tribal casinos, including placing bets online. This would only be possible if the individual is “physically present on the premises of the gaming facility of the Indian tribe or tribal entity.”
Sen. Steve Conway allegedly prompted staff for answers during the last 2 Gambling Commission meetings; raising concerns over the inner workings of permitted sports betting in the state, and whether it would be allowed at the University of Washington and the State University. He also wanted to know how pay-out disputes would be resolved if such activities were allowed to take place, and whether there would be a structured sports gambling bill which Washington would consider implementing.
Trujillo said in a recent in interview that “There’s a smorgasboard of sports betting food out there because all states look to act and create the laws and regulatory program that is best for them. So far, there’s no good model policy out there because they’re all tailored uniquely tailored to their state and we would expect our Legislature to do something similar.”
The Gambling Commission of Washington are expected to discuss all of the ins and outs of the proposed future of sports betting in the state. The talks will take place on August 8, September 12 and November 14 at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Olympia.
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