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Two-year investigation uncovers illegal gambling at Washington horse racing site

| By Nosa Omoigui
The Washington State Gambling Commission (WSCG) has published details on a warrant served on a suspected illegal horse racing operation, following a two-year investigation.

Up to six people could face felony charges in connection with the illegal horse racing activity, although their names – and the location of the operation – are being withheld by the WSGC until the Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney makes a decision on whether to file charges.

WSGC agents found that a ranch near Burbank, Washington was being used for a horse racing operation that was accepting illegal wagers, along with other suspected illegal gambling on site.

Monthly horse racing meets were held and advertised on social media, attracting bettors from Washington, Oregon and other western states.

An undercover agent found that bets were being placed both with the organisers of the races, and between individuals attending the horse racing events.

Raffles were also held offering small scale prizes, although some raffles offered significant prizes, and often included awarding horses and cars to winners.

Sports betting was officially legalised at tribal casinos in Washington in September, after the US Department of Interiors approved betting amendments with nine of the state’s Native American casino operators.

The tribes involved in the sports betting compacts were the Cowlitz, Lummi, Puyallup, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Squaxin, Stillaguamish, Suquamish and Tulalip tribes.

The burgeoning Washington betting market could be worth up to $93.8m by 2026, according to a Washington State University study which was conducted earlier this month.

If in-person registration were to be introduced, the study claimed that it would reduce the value of the retail market to $59.5m, while creating an online sports betting market valued at $132.0m when it reaches maturity.

It was also estimated that up to 1,182 jobs could be created with the implementation of sports betting,

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