When the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Spring of 2018 that opened the doors for each sate to establish its own sports-gambling laws, we urged the Washington state Legislature to take a thoughtful, measured approach. To this point, the lawmakers are still thinking — and thinking.
The slow pace has the executive director of the state Gambling Commission pondering the future of sports betting.
“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,” Executive Director Dave Trujillo told The News Tribune of Tacoma in a recent interview.
It’s a point well made. In fact, that social acceptability of sports gambling started long before the Supreme Court weighed in.
The Super Bowl pool, for example, started in the 1960s by at least the third Super Bowl.
Still, it makes sense for the state to establish reasonable regulations to keep state residents from getting swindled by crooks.
The trick is for the state to keep its distance from the innocent office or neighborhood pools, while overseeing more serious wagering.
The five-member Gambling Commission voted unanimously in January that it should be the primary regulatory agency if the Legislature authorizes a major expansion of sports gambling. That’s reasonable.
Trujillo told The News Tribune he anticipates legislative committees to discuss gambling bills during the 60-day session in 2020 but he does not anticipate any action being taken until the longer 105-day session in 2021. Meanwhile, Trujillo and his staff are watching what’s being done in other states.
This, too, makes sense.
To this point, eight states have joined Nevada in betting legally on sports.
Chris Stearns, a member of the Gambling Commission, said the state can learn from the good and the bad as other states roll out legal sports gambling.
“It’s pretty remarkable how quickly other states have jumped into sports betting. To me at least, there’s a lot to be learned by seeing what others do, borrowing from the success of others and learning from the mistakes of others. That can take some time,” Stearns said.
In the meantime, the state has to make certain sports gambling doesn’t get out of hand — particularly from the many offshore internet gaming sites.
The Commission will be taking public input through this year. The public’s insights should help the Commission come up with a plan that serves the best interests of the state and its residents.