Washington Passes Account Wagering Bill

A bill that would allow account wagering by residents of Washington State passed the state's House of Representatives on March 4 79-17 and yesterday passed the Senate 38-10. The bill will allow Emerald Downs, the state's only Class 1 racing facility, to open or to contract an advance deposit wagering system. Senate Bill 6281 now heads to Gov. Gary Locke for his signature.

"Obviously its great legislation that helps us focus on our primary product," said Emerald's director of marketing, Susie Sourwine.

The bill also opens up the state for full-card simulcasting. To this point, Emerald Downs could only simulcast its live signal, plus one additional graded stakes race from out of state. Simulcasting was also restricted to 14 hours per day, five days a week. Those restrictions have been lifted, so the track can send out as many races as it chooses to its 18 off-track betting facilities.

Sourwine said Emerald Downs officials are in the beginning stages of weighing the options between setting up its own account wagering system vs. contracting with an existing company.

"We're actually just beginning to meet with the companies," she said. "We didn't want to meet in depth with anyone until it was official. A lot of other people have put investments into that technology, but it has to benefit Washington horsemen and Emerald Downs."

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