Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of everyone in Washington. But ESHB 2638’s inappropriate “emergency clause” and tax-free monopoly deserve Governor Inslee’s reconsideration and veto.

If you would like to tell your lawmakers how you feel about ESHB 2638, its manufactured “emergency” and the tax-free monopoly given to Tribal casinos, use this link to find your lawmakers and contact them.

Maverick Gaming teammate and longtime Kennewick resident Wes Tompkins implored lawmakers to include him in the opportunity of sports wagering.

There are considerable and serious issues facing Washington State. And, as the 2020 legislative session comes to a close, we will wonder whether or not an “emergency clause” that attempts to prohibit a public vote on giving Tribes the exclusive rights to sports betting, merits the urgency supporters claim.

As local and state economies work to address a legitimate public health and safety crisis, and funding to support those efforts is pulled from other state challenges, we will remember that long after session started in January, during the night, this “emergency” was created to give Tribes a tax-free monopoly.

And, it will be hard to forget, as the economic impacts of a real crisis hit service employees especially hard, that better, stronger opportunity could have been opened to all gaming employees – in Tribal casinos and cardrooms, for Tribal communities and non-Tribal communities – to help provide stability and tax revenue. As the Spokesman-Review wrote in their editorial opposing the legislation and the “emergency clause,” “there’s an urgent situation in Washington state that requires emergency legislation, according to the Legislature. Not the coronavirus outbreak, mind you, but this: Allowing sports betting in tribal casinos. What’s the emergency? Apparently, a burning need to avoid public scrutiny of the bill.”

Nothing should take precedent over the safety and well-being of everyone in Washington, but if ever there was a law that deserves Governor Inslee’s reconsideration and veto, it is ESHB 2638. This is one situation where there is a win for everyone, and in deciding not to pursue it, the legislature is giving up millions of dollars in taxes that could support local and state priorities.

If not a full veto, Governor Inslee should remove the “emergency clause” attached in a poorly concealed effort to block any public vote on this tax-free monopoly.

Tell Governor Inslee he should veto this manufactured “emergency” to make sure tax revenue from sports betting can support Tribal and non-Tribal communities. Click this link, fill in your contact information, pick “Legislative Bills & Comments” from the drag-down menu, add your message, and press send!  

Here is a passage from Maverick Gaming CEO Eric Persson’s Letter to Governor Inslee.

With respect, as Governor you also hold the option to exercise a line item veto of the “emergency clause” attached in the middle of the legislative process this year in an attempt to block any potential public vote on this tax-free monopoly for sports betting. This clause was adopted as public scrutiny increased and was never present in any previous legislation for sports betting in 2020 or 2019. There has been considerable public opposition to ESHB 2638 and you may decide that the issue of whether or not our state should allow sports betting exclusively at Tribal casinos and free from state tax authority is a question best posed to voters. The Seattle Times Editorial Board argued that “Tribal Casinos shouldn’t get a new monopoly,” and the Yakima Herald Editorial Board agrees, asking why are “lawmakers turning down millions of potential tax dollars by giving this lucrative market to tribal casinos alone.” The Columbian Editorial Board also opposed ESHB 2638, calling out in their editorial opposing the creation of a tax-free monopoly that “equally problematic is an emergency amendment in the House bill that blocks it from being subject to a statewide referendum. This is an egregious abuse of the emergency clause.” And the Spokane Spokesman weighed in with their opposition over the weekend, writing in their Sunday edition that “there’s an urgent situation in Washington state that requires emergency legislation, according to the Legislature. Not the coronavirus outbreak, mind you, but this: Allowing sports betting in tribal casinos. What’s the emergency? Apparently, a burning need to avoid public scrutiny of the bill.”

ESHB 2638 Prohibits a Public Vote

Instead of a full debate on legal, regulated sports betting, state lawmakers are rushing through ESHB 2638, which creates a tax-free monopoly for Tribal casinos. In their work to create a Tribal monopoly that would be protected from the input of public opinion, lawmakers created an “emergency clause” in ESHB 2638 that declares an urgent situation and prevents a public vote on it.

This emergency clause was added late in the process during an evening vote and did not exist in any previous version of the bill.

It was only added after so many people started to speak out in favor of an inclusive system for sports betting instead of one that is exclusive to Tribal casinos only. The Seattle Times, Yakima Herald and Columbian agree that lawmakers have gone too far to create a tax free monopoly.

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ESHB 2638 Creates a Sports Betting Monopoly For Tribes

Sports betting is currently legal in 20 states and D.C. and since June 2018 has made $155 million in taxes. But ESHB 2638 allows sports gambling only in Tribal facilities and is the wrong approach for Washington.

The Seattle Times, The Columbian and the Yakima Herald agree.

In its editorial, “Sports betting: Tribal casinos shouldn’t get a new monopoly” the Times’ Editorial Board wrote, “The fresh revenue stream of running a sportsbook should be shared with the free market, where it can be taxed.”, and the editorial board of The Columbian wrote “Limiting sports gambling to tribal casinos will leave the state on the banks of the sports gambling revenue stream. Tribal casinos do not pay state taxes on their revenue.”

The Yakima Herald sums up the issue perfectly: “Why are our lawmakers turning down millions of potential tax dollars by giving this lucrative market to tribal casinos alone?”

Tribes use gambling revenue to provide critical programs for their members. Sports betting in all licensed, regulated gaming facilities, which is a fraction of Tribal gambling operations, would create revenue for non-Tribal communities also.

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How an Inclusive Sports Betting Policy is Safer for Washington

To ensure a safe sports betting system that is protected by regulation, and also benefits the state and Tribes, a new, safer approach that includes all gaming facilities is the best route.

If regulation of sport betting is put in the hands of the state, there will be more control over the system and more protective measures in place to prevent issues related to gambling. Currently, there are no protections in place to prevent children or addicts from making illegal online or mobile sports bets, which are heavily-marketed to sport fans.

Tribal casinos and non-Tribal card rooms alike can provide a safe environment for those wanting to partake in legal sports betting.

ESHB 2638 helps Tribes make more money, but not the sports betting public.

ESHB 2638 limits tax revenue that could support local communities, but does nothing for the state of Washington.

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Maverick Gaming leadership believes the company has an obligation to the community and a responsibility to help address community needs.

Benefits of Regulated Sports Betting in Washington

Legalizing sporting betting will enable the state of Washington to raise funds without having to raise general taxes. With the cost of living on the rise, sports betting has the potential to make millions of dollars a year in tax revenue for the state! These funds could be used to support:

  • Housing
  • Clean air and water
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Community Services

By including all licensed gaming places, not just Tribal casinos, Washington will also exponentially increase funding to vital services from the peninsula to the Palouse.

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How Maverick Gaming is Making a Difference

A priority for Maverick Gaming is making a positive impact on local communities in Washington. We are proud to work alongside a team of 2,200 people across the state of Washington who are committed to creating smoke-free, neighborhood-friendly entertainment options for our guests.

We also provide good-paying jobs to the people of Washington. We believe in paying a sustainable family wage to all our employees and offer competitive benefits and employee perks. We hope to expand our Maverick Gaming family in Washington if sports betting is made legal at all gaming locations in the state.

Maverick Gaming leadership believes the company has an obligation to the community and a responsibility to help address community needs. By pushing to legalize sports betting in both Tribal and non-Tribal gaming locations, we can provide a safe and regulated environment for the activity, as well as increase funding to the state through tax revenue.

Contact Your Legislators Now

If you would like to tell your lawmakers how you feel about ESHB 2638, its manufactured “emergency” and the tax-free monopoly given to Tribal casinos, use this link to find your lawmakers and contact them.

 

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