Washington sports betting was signed into law on March 25, 2020. However, there was a significant delay in the compacts between the state and tribal nations that operate casinos.
Nevertheless, the wait is over, and Washington sports betting legislation is headed to the Department of the Interior for approval at the federal level. Once permission is granted at the federal level, sports betting will be a reality in Washington.
Latest updates for Washington sports betting
Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington Gambling Commission approved agreements with 15 tribes this week.
“This will give people the opportunity to participate in a new gaming activity that is safe and well regulated by the tribes.” – Governor Jay Inslee
When sports betting goes into effect, eight states in the west will offer legal wagering. This fact has removed Nevada’s sports betting monopoly in the west. This has allowed New Jersey to rise to the top of the United States legal betting market.
There was a lot of negotiating between the governor and tribal nations. This is why it took from March 2020 until July 2021 for deals to be created. The tribes that have received approval are the Colville, Cowlitz, Jamestown S’Klallam, Kalispel, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Shoalwater Bay, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, and Tulalip tribes.
The Skokomish Lucky Dog Casino is seeking approval from the Washington Gambling Commission. There will be a 16th tribe that joins this list. This tribe’s property is small, and they wanted to offer more gaming options to compete in the state.
Tom Strong, the Skokomish Tribal Council vice-chair, said:
“We’re a relatively small casino, and we’re looking for additional offerings to make available to our patrons knowing these things are all pretty limited.”
Approval at the federal level will likely take a couple of months. However, the goal from the legislature and tribes is for betting to go live by football season. This is unlikely based on the typical timeline from the Department of the Interior.
There will be no mobile betting in WA, which helps its cause of offering sports betting by September 9. Yet, many tribes have already started building retail sportsbooks. The Puyallup Tribe, which runs the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, has already finished its retail sportsbook.
No commercial gaming operators?
Washington sports betting will be limited to tribal casinos. Sports betting is a lucrative industry, so this has angered commercial gaming operators. Senator Curtis King in February of 2020 stated:
“The tribes will share in it, but I think our card rooms and our employees within those cardrooms and the state of Washington should benefit from sports wagering.”
There is no commercial gaming operator who is going to argue with this statement. Eric Persson of Maverick Gaming claimed:
“This is one of these things where it’s a win-win, and I’m glad the tribal gaming is getting it. Commercial gaming needs it as well.”
The non-tribal casinos in the state have claimed that they will fight for sports betting during the next legislative session. This will coincide with a multitude of lobbying efforts.