Bills from local legislators on sports gambling, healthy beverages move forward

Rep. Strom Peterson
Sen. Marko Liias

Two 21st District legislators reported Friday that bills they had sponsored were approved by a majority vote of their respective bodies, and now will go to the other chamber for consideration.

The Washington House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation — House Bill 2638 — sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds to legalize sports betting in tribal gambling facilities.

And also on Thursday, two bills sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) passed the Senate. One would require Washington restaurants to offer healthier drink options for any children’s meal on the menu that includes a beverage, and the other aims to increase voter participation among young adults.

SB 6455 sponsored by Liias would require the default beverage offered with a children’s meal offered in a restaurant to be either:

    • Water, sparkling water, or flavored water with no added natural or artificial sweeteners;
    • Unflavored milk; or
    • Any other non-dairy alternative that contains fewer than 130 calories per container or serving.

The other Liias-sponsored. measure, Senate Bill 6313 is the Voting Opportunities Through Education (VOTE) Act. It will make voter pre-registration automatic for 16- and 17-year-olds  unless they choose to not register.

As for the sports betting issue, Peterson noted that illegal sports wagering is already happening in Washington. “The Legislature needed to find a workable path forward for legal sports betting,” he said. “Historically, voters in our state have wanted to keep gambling limited. Our tribal partners have responsibly managed gambling in the state for a long time and are best equipped to manage issues like problem gambling, illegal wagering, youth access and any other issues that may arise.”

“Tribal partners from all over the state have also shown me how important gambling dollars are to their communities,” continued Peterson. “In Olympia we talk about big issues like early childhood education, treatment of drug addiction, housing, caring for an aging population, and protecting the environment. These are the things that tribes are funding every day in their communities and neighboring communities. Gambling dollars will go toward helping the very Washingtonians who need it. In one stroke we legalize sports betting in a responsible way and help our tribal partners improve communities all over the state.”

HB 2638 passed the House by a vote of 83-14. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Washington’s 2020 legislative session ends on March 12.


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