Nine Washington Tribes Get Federal Nod to Launch Sports Betting

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As many as nine Washington tribal casinos can launch sports betting by the opening week of the NFL after the federal authority cleared them on Wednesday. Sixteen tribes had submitted the compact for approval after Gov. Jay Inslee signed individual compact amendments with those tribes in July.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Interior approved sports gambling compact amendments for the Tulalip, Puyallup, Cowlitz, Lummi, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Squaxin, Suquamish Stillaguamish tribes.

Applications by Muckleshoot, Jamestown S’Klallam, Kalispel, Skokomish, Swinomish, Shoalwater Bay, and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are still pending.

When Will Washington Sports Betting Go Live?

Some Washington tribes plan to offer sports betting by the start of the football season this month, while others expect to go live by October or November.

Rebecca George, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, said Wednesday that the timing for sports betting launch depends on individual casinos and how far they wrap up the measures required for a launch. Those measures include securing approved vendors, besides other potential issues ranging from security and logistic.

While George initially said regulated sports betting should begin at tribal casinos “in the next few months,” in the very next interview, she refrained from specifying a time frame.

“It’s not a race as we all have the same end goal,” she said. “We’re forming a new gambling product and system… and want to bring to market in a safe and regulated way.”

What About the Other Seven Tribes?

Washington Indian Gaming Association, which seeks to promote the benefits of tribal gaming, expects a federal nod for the remaining seven tribes, with application pending soon.

The latest development comes nearly over a month after Washington State Gambling Commission gave the final nod to sports betting proposals outlined by tribes, with a view to launching the industry by Sept. 9.

Stanford Le, president, and CEO of the Snoqualmie Casino said they worked diligently with the state gambling commission and their vendors to submit license applications with a view to go live by the opening week of the regular football season.

How Have We Reached Here?

Washington gaming tribes had been seeking to legalize sports betting for years since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018. Washington legalized limited sports betting in March 2020, but it took over a year for a tribal compact amendment to be finalized between the tribes and the state.

As of now, sports betting is only permissible on the premises of tribal casinos in the Evergreen State. The law allows gambling on major league professional sports, college sports, and international events. But betting on college games involving in-state schools is outlawed.

Mobile betting is allowed only within the boundaries of tribal casinos. Outside of a tribal establishment, any form of online gambling remains a Class C felony in Washington.

But Giants Are Coming…

As many as 15 operators are in the process of obtaining licenses by the Washington State Gambling Commission to operate in the state – including giants like FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars.

As per the WIGA, tribal gaming supports over 37,000 jobs in the Evergreen State, and it generated more than $5.3 billion in gross state product. Additionally, it yielded approximately $722 million in state and local revenue.

George noted that the legislature’s careful deliberation to limit sports betting to tribal casinos would ensure that revenues from the industry would state in Washington and boost the local economy.

“We do gaming right, and the public can be satisfied that we will conduct sports gambling in a fair and careful manner,” George said.

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