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Commentary: Legalized sports betting in WA state is the no-brainer that probably won’t ever happen

Last Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that had effectively banned sports betting in most states.

All states now have the right to legalize sports betting. Unfortunately, the state of Washington has no current plans to do so - and that’s a huge shame.

Now, before you label me a degenerate gambler, let’s review where the money is going. In New Jersey, the plan is to use most of the additional tax revenue to help fund programs for seniors and the disabled. Similar to the State of Washington’s agreement with tribal casinos, a small percentage will also go to funding programs to help compulsive gambling illness. The general idea for most states is to use the additional money for good causes.

And that’s a no-brainer. Say what you want about the legalization of marijuana in this state, but at least much of the additional revenue goes toward health care, Medicaid and education. What about the tax on alcohol? What about Seattle’s tax on soda?

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here watching the heated back-and-forth over a Head Tax in this city that’s supposed to increase affordable housing... and I’m trying to understand why legalizing sports betting in this state wouldn’t be a no-brainer!

After all, whether it’s legal or not, we know people in this state are still betting on sports - Americans illegally wager about $150 billion a year, according to the American Gaming Association. People are gonna find a way to do it one way or not. Plus, this state rarely, if ever, prosecutes anyone for off-shore sports betting online. So why not legalize it, take a cut of it, and use it for the greater good?

Now, I don’t consider myself an expert on the topic, but we do know that it would take 60 percent of the state legislature to approve this kind of measure. The tribal casinos might have the desire and infrastructure to open sportsbooks, but ultimately, it’s the lawmakers in this state that hold the power. And that’s depressing.

Because knowing this state’s history when it comes to anything, the whole idea will likely get caught up in bureaucratic red tape, facing roadblock after roadblock.

Just look what it took to come to a compromise over slot machines! In this state, it’s not technically even called a slot machine. Instead, it’s an electronic scratch ticket that’s connected to a central computer along with all other electronic scratchers, with a pre-determined number of winners.

And have you ever noticed that you won’t find a pull-down handle on slot machines in this state? Because someone argued pulling a lever would be more addictive than pushing a button.

That’s the kind of stuff we’re dealing with. It shouldn’t be that hard!

I could name a whole lot vices that are worse than a Hawks fan wanting to place a $20 bet on his or her favorite team and not having to travel to another state or find some off-shore betting site to do it.

So, to the representatives in this state: Figure it out. Figure out a way to make it happen, where our state can use this new Supreme Court ruling to our advantage, and help fund things that desperately need it.

I’d bet that it won’t happen. But I can’t even do that either.