You’d think that a national pioneer in civil-rights issues like same-sex marriage (among the first eight to allow gay marriage but first along with Maryland and Maine to do so by public referendum) and marijuana decriminalization (famously first in the nation along with Colorado) would be fairly open-minded about betting on football and other sports.
Nope! Oddly enough, on issues of gambling, Washington is more in line with Mountain West states like Montana and Idaho with the most liberal-thinking West Coast, i.e. Oregon and California, with which they’re so often socially lumped.
Would you believe Washington is one of just nine states that doesn’t allow daily fantasy football and other sports? Would you believe that, if convicted, an online poker player faces a potential five-year sentence and a $10,000 fine? Harshin’ my fabulous mellow, man...
Betting in Washington
Why such harsh laws regarding betting in Washington? It’s all about organized crime, which state authorities claimed were cleared away only in 1971, a good 15 years after a federal push against such baddies had produced impressive results in most other states.
Before the 1950, betting law in Washington followed the familiar path laid out by other state governments. Along with U.S. incorporation in 1889 was written a strict anti-gambling law into the state constitution. In the 1930s, the economic, likesay, challenges of the Great Depression were answered in part in Washington with the legalization of pari-mutuel betting at the state’s racetracks.
Betting on sports in Washington became quite the interesting proposition (so to speak) in the 1950s. While Tennessee senator Estes Kefauver was publicly leading a federal fight against organized crime across the country, illegal sports betting games were thriving in Washington. The state provided the enterprising criminal with at least one major market, relative remoteness and no top-tier professional sports franchises.
Finally did the hammer come down on such activity in the Evergreen State. In a bust centered on the Seattle/King County area, 51 law enforcement officers and public officials were handed indictments by a federal grand jury. Though this action sounded impressive, it seems as though the surface was barely scratched. By 1974, a bill calling for the legalization of poker rooms (!) in Washington was mysteriously rapidly passed through the state legislature and enacted into law in record time. Six years later, the state’s House Speaker, Senate majority leader and one high-level lobbyist were all indicted on charges on conspiracy and bribery.
The mafioso types and even a crooked politico here and there still appear on Washington’s local police blotters, as high-level busts of perps alleged to be involved in organized crime continue through the 2010s. NFLbets supposes Washington lawmakers have a right to be paranoid a this point, but still…
Football in Washington
If you believe the hype, the Seattle Seahawks have a massive homefield advantage thanks to the legendary “13th Man” of fandom said to sway game outcomes with their high-decibel output of noise. However, with the seeming eclipse of Pete Carroll’s teams to the concomitant rise of the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, Seattle’s triskadelic efficacy may be outed as well overrated.
But you can’t blame Seahawks fandom for rising from silence to obnoxious voluminousness. From the team’s foundation in 1977 to 2002 is an underwhelming record in diametric opposition to the team’s success over the last 15 seasons. After seven seasons of the usual post-expansion mediocrity, some winning (though not much) was experienced after Chuck Knox came aboard to coach, installing Dave Kreig at quarterback and first-round draft pick RB Curt Warner to go with future Hall of Fame WR Steve Largent, but losing seasons remained the norm into the 21st century.
About halfway through the reign of Mike Holmgren as Seattle head coach, the Seahawks learned winning ways. With QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Shaun Alexander fueling the offense, the ’Hawks made the playoffs for five straight years, from 2003 to ’07. Seattle appearned in one Super Bowl, losing to both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the referees.
When the 10s rolled around, the Seahawks began their domination of the NFC West division and were habitually one of the league’s top three or four teams. Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch took over the running duties in ’10, Richard Sherman was added to the secondary in ’11 and Russell Wilson became starting QB in ’12. Following the 2013 season, the Seahawks appeared in consecutive Super Bowls, topping Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos and nearly surprising Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in a game they should have won if only … ah, you know the rest.
College football in Washington is mainly about the two big unis, Washington and Washington State, each of whom has a football tradition going back to the 19th century – heck, the former began in play in the same year Washington gained statehood!
It is the Washington Huskies would may claim the more storied history, having won national titles in 1960 and ’91. The 1961 Rose Bowl win over Minnesota came at the peak of what would be an 18-year tenure as head coach of Jim Owens, who’d gotten tutelage from a guy named Bear Bryant. The ’91 Washington Huskies had 11 players, including DT Steve Entman and DB Dana Hall, drafted into the NFL and went 12-0 on the season. The Huskies ultimately split the title with the Miami Hurricanes, who also went undefeated but never met the Huskies in those days before the national playoffs.
Happily, the Huskies program has been consistently top-notch in the BCS era, which has elevated the traditional season-ending Apple Bowl game between the Huskies and WSU Cougars to national prominence, as the result has often featured into the final playoff rankings.
And speaking of those Cougars, well … to be honest, the team has always been Washington’s no. 2 team. Washington State has claimed four conference titles, but doesn’t have very much else in terms of banners. Cumulatively, the Cougars are still 12 games under .500 (with a win-loss record of 503-527-45) and are just 3-4 in bowl games in the bowl-happy 21st century. On the other hand, recently the fates may be turning. Head coach Mike Leach has been mentioned for coaching honors and the team’s 9-4 record in 2015 had the Cougars appearing in the top 25 for the first time in a dozen seasons. College football fans will definitely want to keep an eye on this program in the near future – as will the Huskies…
Betting on football in Washington
A combination of two factors certainly makes NFLbets pessimistic about opening up the legality of betting on football in Washington: The long history of organized crime and illegal sportsbook operations, and the Seattle Supersonics.
Putting it a bit less obliquely, because of the backstabbing move of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX to relocate Seattle’s NBA team to Oklahoma City, Washington is now just one of two states which is host to an NFL franchise, but not one in the NBA. From this side of 2018, it appears as though the NBA will lead the charge to the state-by-state decriminalization of sports betting, possibly by allowing betting games within NBA arenas.
For right now, any kind of betting on football in Washington state is illegal. This has been so since 2011, when the Washington State Gambling Commission sought to make an example of one poor sucker, a resident of the state who had created a NASCAR (!) fantasy contest and prosecuted him on violation of extant gambling law. Hearings were held in 2016 to consider carving out a bit of legislation to allow DFS play, but no amendment to the sitting law has been made to date.