Washington sports betting is one step closer as Gov. Jay Inslee signed 15 tribal sports betting compacts, paving the way for a possible launch by the NFL season. The 16th tribe, which is also approved by the Washington State Gambling Commission, will be reviewed by the governor soon.

The tribes – including the Tulalip Tribes and the Stillaguamish – will send the individual compacts signed Tuesday, July 6, to the US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for consideration.

The Executive Director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) said the organization has worked diligently to bring sports betting to the state of Washington by the start of the football season. WIGA is a non-profit entity of tribal government leaders of federally recognized tribes in the Evergreen State.

Washington Tribes Approved So Far

Inslee first signed individual compact amendments with 15 Washington tribes, and the 16th tribe – Skokomish Lucky Dog Casino – which was approved by the Washington State Gambling Commission two days later on July 8, is expected to be reviewed by the governor in matter of days. The move will allow Washington sports betting at 16 tribal casinos.

The other 15 Native American tribes approved for licenses by the commision are – Tulalip, Stillaguamish, Colville, Cowlitz, Jamestown S’Klallam, Muckleshoot, Kalispel, Lummi, Puyallup, Shoalwater Bay, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Suquamish, and Swinomish.

Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin said sports betting is an exciting new opportunity for the residents, adding that the revenue will stay in Washington, which means more jobs and charitable contributions for the betterment of communities throughout the state.

What’s Next?

Each tribe will sign their respective amendment and send it to the secretary of the US Department of the Interior for a review. If approved, the compact will be listed in the Federal Register.

The federal agency has 45 days to approve, reject, or not respond to the pact at all. In any case other than clear rejection, the pact is deemed to be approved.

Earlier in March, the US Senate confirmed the appointment of Haaland as Secretary, the first Native American to be appointed for the post, raising hopes for supporters of Washington sports betting that compacts’ approval will be a smooth process.

What Will Be Available for Washington Bettors?

Washington sports betting was legalized last year to allow betting on professional, collegiate, international, and Olympic games, in addition to eSports.

Washingtonians will be allowed to place bets in a sportsbook environment and kiosks on a gaming floor, including mobile betting through a personalized account.

Bets will be allowed to be made on the premises of casino properties – including hotels, conference rooms, and entertainment venues related to the casino. However, all those venues – like golf courses and convenience stores – that are not part of the casino will be excluded from sports betting services.

How Have We Reached Here?

Sports betting has been illegal – except under very restricted conditions – in Washington until 2020. The state tribes’ years-long endeavors came to near fruition on March 25, 2020, when Inslee signed House Bill 2638 after the sports betting bill passed supermajorities in both chambers with bipartisan support.

George said the 70% bipartisan support of the legislature, a unanimous vote of the SSGC, and the full support of the governor, confirm that our tribal gaming system is safe, regulated, and responsible.

All 29 federally recognized tribes in the Evergreen State have a Class III gaming compact, with 22 tribes operating 29 gaming venues in the state.

In 2017, the state’s Indian economy generated over $5.3 billion in gross state product, while creating 37,000 jobs, with 70% of employees being non-tribal members, according to the WIGA. Also, tribes are one of the state’s top 10 employers.

There is no timeline for gaming compacts to be renegotiated, meaning sports betting compact amendments can be renegotiated whenever the tribes deem it appropriate.

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