Not enough voters want to see Washington sports betting expanded to the state’s commercially operated card rooms, according to a new survey.
That survey was conducted by FM3 Research on behalf of the Washington Indian Gaming Association. The survey, taken from late January into early February, found 41% of voters are in favor of expanding WA sports betting. That’s compared to 48% that did not want the expansion. The other 11% were unsure.
The poll also found 42% of voters hold an unfavorable opinion of the state’s 44 cardrooms. Just 23% responded they hold a favorable opinion. Respondents favored tribal casinos 76%-11%.
Tribal casinos won their battle for WA sports betting exclusivity last year.
Washington sports betting lawsuit coming?
The survey suggests there is not the 60% required supermajority to support a betting expansion to cardrooms. That’s likely because Maverick Gaming and CEO Eric Persson vowed to spend tens of millions of dollars to fight last year’s legislative decision.
From the WIGA press release:
One card room operator, Maverick Gaming, has threatened to spend between $20 million – $30 million on a possible ballot initiative and other lobbying and advocacy to legalize sports betting at card rooms in Washington State. Maverick has the backing of a deep-pocketed out-of-state hedge fund focused on gambling investments, and in February funneled an additional $1 million into a campaign committee, raising their war chest to $2 million.
Persson told LSR last year an emergency clause was attached to the enabling legislation to get around that 60% requirement. Polling done by Maverick suggested there was not enough support for a tribal-only initiative.
Persson did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Shortly after this year’s effort to get Washington sports betting in cardrooms had its first hearing, Persson told KIRO-TV his company would keep pushing “until we bust down that door.”
Cardroom proposal fails as tribes prepare launch
That initial hearing is as far as SB 5212 would get this year.
Meanwhile, more than 13 months after Gov. Jay Inslee signed tribal betting into law, sports betting in Waashington still is not live.
The wheels are finally moving a little faster, though. A tentative agreement between the Tulalip Tribes and Washington gaming regulators was announced Friday. Another tentative agreement with the Suquamish Tribe was announced Monday.
Still, the launch isn’t exactly right around the corner. The Washington State Gambling Commission does not expect sports betting to start until NFL betting this year.