03/04/2004 1:00AM

Washington bill passes House


SEATTLE - A bill seen by some as vital for the health of the Washington Thoroughbred industry passed the state House of Representatives by a vote of 79-17 Wednesday.

The legislation would legalize account wagering in Washington, allowing Emerald Downs to negotiate with advance deposit wagering firms for source-market fees on bets originating in the state. It would also allow full-card simulcasting at the track's satellite sites and remove restrictions on the days per week and hours per day in which parimutuel wagering may be conducted.

The bill must now return to the Senate, where it earlier passed by a vote of 38-10, so that amendments added to the House version can be ratified before March 9, the last day of the current legislative session. It must then be signed by Gov. Gary Locke, in which case it will become law immediately. If Gov. Locke neither signs nor vetoes the bill, it will become law in 30 days.

Ron Crockett, president of Emerald, said full-card simulcasting at satellite sites will come about one or two sites at a time, as satellite dishes are installed. He said the track has no plans to offer wagering on Mondays or Tuesdays, which are currently dark, on a regular basis.