Republican lawmakers in Olympia continue to oppose Gov. Christine Gregoire’s push to increase the sales tax to help solve the state’s budget woes. But there is some new revenue that they actually will support.
Republicans now say that they favor an expansion of gambling as a way to bring in more money. Specifically, let slot machines into the 60 or so card rooms around the state that are now prohibited from having them.
“This would allow machine gaming to go into non-tribal casinos and would realize revenues up to almost $400 million at full implementation,” Republican state Rep. Gary Alexander said. That revenue amount would be over two years.
Republicans also argue that more gaming outside of Indian reservations will promote jobs and allow small businesses to better compete with the big casinos.
Gregoire says she looked at this idea but passed on it for a couple reasons. It doesn’t collect money fast enough -- you can’t get to full implementation for at least a few years. And, when you do, it won’t actually get you enough revenue.
“As distasteful as a half a penny on a sales tax is,” Gregoire says, “it meets all that criteria. Off-reservation gaming doesn’t meet that criteria.”
By comparison, a half-cent hike in the sales tax would raise about $500 million per year.
Tribes in Washington don’t like the idea of expanding slots outside of their casinos. They understandably are protective of their lucrative monopoly.