Washington Gambling Commission Approves Sports Betting at Tribal Casinos — Industry Set for Fall Launch

by Ciaran McEneaney - Friday, June 11th, 2021 10:13

Governor Jay Inslee has been urged to sign the compacts as soon as possible.

The Washington State Gambling Commission has approved amended tribal gaming compacts that will allow the state’s 15 Native American tribes to offer legal sports betting services at their casinos. The amended compacts have now been sent to the desk of Governor Jay Inslee for his approval.

After a review of the amendments, the Commission voted by 7-0 to approve the amendments with two commissioners excused from the vote. The Commission’s review and approval is the latest step in a lengthy legalization process that saw the initial legislation HB 2638 approved and signed into law by the Governor in March of 2020.

The bill was approved by the legislature on the understanding that new gaming compacts would need to be drafted or the original compacts heavily amended. It has taken the Gaming Commission over a year to finally reach an agreement with the tribes that will see Washington become the latest state to offer legal sports betting in the US.

According to Commission chair Bud Sizemore there are considerable changes to the compacts:

“We have 15 sports wagering amendments going to the governor’s office.”

Sizemore also added that he hopes to have the industry up and running in time for the first game of the NFL season on September 10th.

The state’s various tribes have been quite vocal in their support for the new compacts and have urged the Governor to approve the amendments as soon as possible as the additional revenue generated would further assist the many social programs that help the tribes’ people.

Jaison Elkins, chairman of the Muckleshoot Tribe said:

“The effects of poverty, neglect and disease are not easily overcome. We use every dollar from gaming.”

According to the Tulalip Tribes, the state’s tribes are the seventh-largest employer in Washington with employees from outside the tribes making up 70% of the casinos’ workforce. In their testimony to the Commission, the tribe said that the introduction of sports betting would mean even more jobs for residents of the state.

If the Governor approves the amendments, the compacts will go to the federal government for final approval. Once the new compacts have been published in the federal register, the Tulalip, Suquamish, Kalispel, Snoqualmie, Colville, Cowlitz, Jamestown S’Kallam, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Shoalwater Bay, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish and Swinomish tribes will be allowed to launch their sports betting products.

The new legislation allows gambling on all major league professional sports both in the US and abroad. Gamblers can also bet on events such as the Olympic Games and other international events like the FIFA World Cup while betting on college sports will also be allowed but on in-state schools. The legislation also states that no mobile sports wagering options will be available outside casino properties.


Image credit: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

Ciaran McEneaney

Ciaran has a decade of experience writing for some of the biggest names in the eSports, poker, and casino industries.