September 2, 2021 4 min read


Tribal Casinos in Washington Get the Green Light on Sports Betting

Tribal casinos in Washington overcame the final political obstacle on Wednesday that was stopping them from launching sports betting. Thanks to that fact, these properties could provide visitors with sportsbooks as soon as the NFL regular season starts on September 9. Sports gambling compact amendments for the Spokane, Cowlitz, Tulalip, Puyallup, Lummi, Suquamish, Squaxin, Snoqualmie and Stillaguamish tribes have been approved by the US Department of the Interior (DoI). Applications that have been submitted by Swinomish, Kalispel, Jamestown S’Klallam, Muckleshoot, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and Shoalwater Bay are still pending.

Tribes Label the NFL as The Biggest Sports Betting Revenue Source

The Washington State Gambling Commission’s final approval to the proposals by tribes on sports gambling was approved in late July. The goal was to set up shop by the time the NFL regular season starts, only a week from now. The NFL is expecting somewhere around $270 million in revenue, thanks to sports betting and partnerships with betting operators. Some tribes may be ready to provide customers with sports betting services by the start of the NFL season, as they are completing the last steps, such as finalizing vendors that will carry out these activities.

The tribes consider the NFL as the biggest draw for revenue in sports betting, especially in times when their communities have been hit by the pandemic and need money to provide various social services, including health and education. The NFL is also open to the industry; like it was mentioned above, the sports league has teamed up with many reputable betting operators.

Stanford Le, Snoqualmie Casino’s CEO and president, asserts that the tribes have been working relentlessly with the vendors, the Snoqualmie Gaming Commission and the Washington State Gambling Commission to submit the required licenses and that they are on schedule for 2021 NFL season’s opening week.

A Historic Moment for Washington

Washington Indian Gaming Association’s executive director, Rebecca George, stated that this approval is a historic landmark. After the approval on Wednesday, she released a statement in which she said that regulated sports betting activities at tribal gambling facilities are likely to begin in the next couple of months. However, she had a subsequent interview in which she did not specify a time frame in which people will be able to wager at these casinos.

George also said that the timing in which sports betting will go live really depends on the casinos and how far they have gone in implementing the right measures. Some of these measures include navigating potential issues in the logistics, bureaucratic, and security sections, as well as securing the approved vendors.

The end goal is the same, stated George. That is why this is not a race and the casinos are creating a product and a system within the state and are planning on delivering it in the safest and most regulated way. George concluded that massive changes like these take time and what people are seeing is a methodical and careful approach to gambling, which has always been there. That is also the reason why the state of Washington is confident in the ability of these casinos to successfully undertake sports betting for the first time.

A public consultant in the gaming association stated last week that, given the pursuit and vendor approval, gaming is still weeks away for some operators.

The Trend of Legalizing Sports Betting Started in 2018

Sports betting gained massive momentum and many states proceeded to make the first steps in legalizing these activities after the US Supreme Court allowed states to narrate their own legislation in this sphere. Since then, over 30 states and Washington, DC., have either legalized and launched sports betting or are in the process of launching.

The latest approval for the nine tribes marks the culmination of a battle that lasted several years to have sports betting legalized in Washington. This state has some of the strictest anti-gambling laws in the US. Even though a law that legalized sports betting in the state was passed in March 2020, it took an additional year for tribal amendments to be negotiated.

As for mobile sports betting, it still remains a Class C felony in Washington, just as online gambling. But, it is worth noting that mobile sports betting will be available at the premises of tribal casinos, and a geofenced virtual perimeter will be used to limit the access.

Filip Mishevski has been covering online gambling and cryptocurrencies for the past few years. He has written countless articles, how-to-guides, insights and news, and is keen on sharing his extensive knowledge in the aforementioned fields. He’s very passionate about soccer and MMA and is interested in how the online gambling industry will shape our future and thus, influence our lives.

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