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Washington Race and Sports Wagering

Washington State first began allowing horse racing in 1872 when the Seattle Race Course opened. However, it wasn't until 1933 that pari-mutuel betting on horse races was legally authorized. Washington currently permits wagering on live horse racing and simulcast races. Offtrack betting is also legal.

The Washington Horse Racing Commission (WHRC) is a three-member board appointed by the Governor and is responsible for licensing, regulating, and overseeing all horse racing meets in the state where the pari-mutuel system is used. The WHRC also approves and regulates satellite locations and simulcasting, and licenses and regulates advance deposit wagering.

Currently, the pari-mutuel tax is 1.3% of the total pari-mutuel handle, if the total gross receipts are more than $50 million. If a racing facility's gross receipts are $50 million or less, the pari-mutuel tax is 1.803%.

Simulcast wagering on races of national or regional interest was authorized in 1981 and satellite broadcasts of live, in-state horse races to offtrack betting locations were authorized in 1987.

In 1987, legislators passed a bill that authorized racetracks to send and receive simulcast signals of live races outside Washington. Signals were not permitted to be transmitted to satellite facilities, including tribal casinos.

In, 1998, single-card simulcast wagering was authorized, and in 2001, full-card simulcast wagering was approved.

In 2004, Washington State began allowing account wagering on horse races using the Internet. Also in 2004, offtrack betting satellite facilities were authorized to operate year-round. The following year, 2005, advance deposit wagering was permitted.

On 22 June 2013, state officials released a list of state agencies that would be closed on 1 July if the legislature could not pass a balanced budget before then. The WHRC was included. Even with a contingency plan of partial shutdowns, the WHRC was slated for a complete shutdown, which meant that Emerald Downs would be closed as well. However, legislators were able to find adequate funding and the agency remains open.

Washington Race and Sports Wagering Properties

Emerald Downs
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