Washington State Tribes Move Closer Toward Sports Betting After Commission Vote

Posted on: June 13, 2021, 07:53h. 

Last updated on: June 14, 2021, 08:18h.

Fifteen Washington State tribes are significantly closer to offering athletic wagering following a key vote. Sports betting could be in place by the end of August in time for the beginning of the 2021 NFL season.

Sports wagering will not be authorized until the amended compact is published in the Federal Register
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee shown here. Inslee needs to sign amended compacts to allow sports betting at tribal casinos. (Image: Ted S. Warren/AP)

Last week, the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) updated tribal Class III gaming compacts to permit wagering on sports events. The move was unanimously approved by seven commissioners on Thursday. Two commissioners were excused from voting.

More government and tribal approvals are needed before sports betting can take place. Each tribal chair and Gov. Jay Inslee, D, have to sign the relevant updated compact.

Then, it needs to be approved by the US Department of Interior (DOI). DOI has 45 days to rule on the amended compacts. Sports wagering will not be authorized until the amended compact is published in the Federal Register.

The state’s tribes tentatively approved for sports betting include Colville, Cowlitz, Jamestown S’Klallum, Kalispel, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Shoalwater Bay, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, and Tulalip.

The law approved last year by the state legislature allows for tribal wagering in Washington State on major league pro sports. Betting also can take place on Olympic events, as well as collegiate sports (except for local colleges).

Also, sports wagering could be allowed in brick-and-mortar tribal casinos and through limited mobile and online uses.

“You will need to travel to the casino premises to place a mobile or in-person wager,” Brian J. Considine, legal and legislative manager for the WSGC, explained to Casino.org.

Draft Rules Taking Shape

Last week, the WSGC also approved initial draft rules for tribal casino sports wagering. On July 28, the WSGC will review and approve final sports wagering rules.

“These rules address licensing requirements, licensing fees and reporting requirements, sport and sports wagering integrity, integrity monitoring providers, geolocation, system, and patron mobile account requirements,” Considine said.

The tribes will use the money for charity, problem gambling, smoking cessation, and community improvements, Considine added.

Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) Executive Director Rebecca George further said last week in a statement, “The Commission’s vote highlights the strong and collaborative partnership between tribes and the state that has emerged over the last three decades….

By fitting sports betting into the existing — and proven — tribal gaming system, the state has ensured that sports betting revenues will stay in Washington and will go towards uplifting historically marginalized communities, while creating local jobs, boosting the state economy and funding critical services for those in need.”

There are 29 federally recognized Tribes in Washington State.

Tribes Praise Commission Vote

“We are just really excited to go from a place where we got the approval from the Legislature to 15 approved compacts,” Afton Servas, spokeswoman for the Kalispel Tribe, was quoted by The Spokesman-Review newspaper last week.

Jaison Elkins, chairman of the Muckleshoot Tribe, was additionally quoted by the newspaper that “The effects of poverty, neglect and disease are not easily overcome…. We use every dollar from gaming.”