A history of gambling in Washington State

Brief history of gambling (lotteries, casinos, horse racing etc) in Washington State. In 2014, 80% of legalized gambling revenue accrued to tribal casinos.

1889: The state constitution prohibits lotteries (and divorce).

1933: Legislature authorizes betting on horse racing.

1971: Legislature authorizes bingo and raffles.

1972: Washington voters approve SJR 5, repealing gambling prohibition upon a supermajority vote (60 percent) of the Legislature or of the voters by ballot measure.

1973: The Gambling Commission is born; Legislature authorizes amusement games, bingo, raffles, punchboards/pull tabs, card rooms, mahjongg, and social card games for charitable/nonprofit organizations and commercial food and drink businesses (Chapter 218, Laws of 1973 (SHB 711)). Governor Evans vetoes provisions authorizing card rooms, social card games, and mahjongg.

1974: Card rooms and social card games (including mahjongg) authorized.

1977: Fund raising events (Reno nights) authorized.

1978: Gambling Commission designated a separate agency.

1980: Grand jury indicts House Speaker John Bagnariol, Senate Majority Leader Gordon Walgren, and Olympia lobbyist Pat Gallagher for conspiring to take payoffs in return for promoting gambling legislation. The indictment comes after an 18-month FBI investigation, known as GamScam. All are convicted. Bagnariol served two years in prison; he died in 2009. Walgren served two years of a five year sentence before being paroled. He contends he was the victim of a political vendetta.

1982: The Legislature authorizes a state lottery, amid budget pressure resulting, at least in party, from a national recession.

1987: Off-track betting on horse racing becomes legal.

1988: Congress authorizes tribal casinos (The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act).

1992: The Lummi Tribe and Tulalip Tribe open the state’s first tribal casinos.

1997: State lawmakers allow non-tribal house-banked card rooms.

2001: Total net gambling receipts statewide are more than $1 billion, $422 million of it from tribal casinos.

2002: Washington joins with nine other states in its first multi-state lottery game, known as the Big Game (SB 6560).

2006: The Legislature explicitly prohibits internet gambling.

2014: Legal gambling in Washington state reaches $2.8 billion. Of that, $2.2 billion comes from tribal casinos; only $223 million comes from the state lottery.

The Constitution of the State of Washington (pdf), Seattle Times – 2002, Washington Horse Racing Commission, Washington State Gambling Commission, Washington State gambling law (RCW)

Featured image: Wikipedia

28 August 2016