Sports betting in the state of Washington took another big step on Thursday, and it was one that could allow the state to launch the industry later this year. The Washington Gaming Commission (WGC) held a hearing lasting four hours on Thursday, and a few significant decisions were made.
The main reason for the hearing was to finalize new gaming compacts with tribes. Sports betting has been legal in the state since March 2020, although the state has not yet been able to launch any sportsbooks.
Governor Jay Inslee has been working with numerous Native American tribes on new gaming compacts which were finally approved this week. The approved compacts will now be sent to the US Department of Interior and a decision will be made within 45 days.
All of sports betting must be done at the Native American casinos at this time, but lawmakers have expressed some interest in expanding that in the future. There are 15 tribes that reached gaming compact agreements with the state, and there is hope that all of them will be approved quickly.
During the hearing on Thursday, a representative from the Kalispel, Snoqualmie, Suquamish, and Tulalip Tribes were present and spoke. These were the four tribes that reached a new compact agreement first, and all were in support of sports wagering.
This was viewed as a positive meeting by the WGC, and everyone seemed to be in support of legalizing the new industry. Tribal leaders are looking for a boost in revenue from sports betting, and their testimony helped push other tribes to reach an agreement as well.
At the end of the meeting, the WGC unanimously approved all of the gaming compacts by a 7-0 vote. Governor Inslee will now make the final signatures before sending them to the federal government.
Some Limits to Betting Markets
The WGC also presented on sports betting markets that would be both allowed and prohibited in the state when the industry launches. The biggest market will be professional sports, but the WGC did highlight a few other markets that could bring in some action.
Both international and Olympic sporting events can be offered by the sportsbooks, and that will be left up to each individual operator. The WGC will allow betting on college sports as well, except for those games featuring in-state teams.
This is an approach that has been taken by several other states throughout the US, but it hurts the market during college basketball and football seasons. The surprise run by the Eastern Washington Eagles in the NCAA Tournament would have been off-limits for bettors in the state.
Online betting will be offered but must be done while on the tribal casino property.
Washington has also passed a law requiring in-person registration, making them just the third state in the US to do so. Illinois and Nevada both have in-person registration in place, and that requirement has hurt the overall growth of those markets.