Washington Moves One Step Closer to Sports Betting as Governor Signs Compacts with 16 Tribal Casinos

by Olivia Richardson - Thursday, July 15th, 2021 9:30

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed amended compacts that will potentially allow 16 of the state’s tribal casinos to start offering sports betting services by the start of the NFL season in September 2021.

The state gambling commission originally ratified new compacts with 15 of the state’s tribes while an agreement was made with the Skokomish Tribe shortly after.

Although the new compacts have been approved by the governor’s office and the state’s lawmakers, they must now wait for final approval from the Department of the Interior before being added to the Federal Register. Once published in the register, the tribes will be allowed to launch their sports betting products and services. The review and approval process must be completed by the Department of the Interior within 45 days.

The newly signed compacts were made possible by the passing of a sports wagering law HB 2638 which allows the state’s 29 recognized tribes to offer sports betting services at their casinos. The legislation allows for betting on professional, collegiate, and Olympic sports along with esports tournaments and events. However, while retail betting was given the green light, online betting can only take place when the customer is on tribal casino land.

While supporters of the bill have celebrated the legislation finally achieving its goal, commercial operators feel that the state has missed an opportunity to allow local businesses to take part in the industry.

Last year, Sen Curtis King, said:

“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.”

Eric Persson of Maverick Gaming added:

“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.”

However, there has been no indication that new legislation allowing for commercial operators to open sportsbooks will be introduced in the near future.


Image credit: Philip Robertson / CC BY 2.0

Olivia Richardson

Olivia has worked as an editor and writer for major brands across multiple niches. She now focuses on the iGaming and sports betting industries.