Washington State Tribes Reach Tentative Agreement on Electronic Gaming 

Posted on: July 13, 2023, 04:06h. 

Last updated on: July 20, 2023, 05:38h.

Washington regulators have reached tentative agreements to allow five tribes to offer electronic table games at their casinos in the state.

Nisqually Red Wind Casino located in Olympia, Washington owned by the Nisqually Indian Tribe, above. A new proposal in the state may allow tribes to offer electronic games. (Image: 500nations.com)

The Washington State Gambling Commission this week unveiled proposed amendments to add electronic gaming provisions to its gaming compacts with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Nisqually Indian Tribe, Spokane Tribe, and Suquamish Tribe. The announcement follows a June agreement with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe on amendments related to electronic gaming and other issues already covered by the other tribes’ agreements.

The proposed amendments would allow the tribes to offer electronic versions of blackjack, roulette, craps, or any other Class III table game approved by their existing gaming compacts. A single electronic gaming terminal may allow patrons to play multiple concurrent games.

Wagers on electronic games are limited to $500 under the terms of the proposed amendments.

Hearings Planned

The state House and Senate will hold a joint hearing on the proposed amendments on July 10, followed by a vote by the Gambling Commission at its July 20 public meeting.

If the Gambling Commission votes to move forward with the proposed amendments, they will be sent to the tribal chairs and the governor for signatures. After that, it will be up to the US Interior Secretary to review and approve the amendments. The amendments won’t go into effect until they’re formally approved and published in the Federal Register, which can take up to several months or more.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA) allows Indian tribes to conduct Class III gaming on Indian lands in accordance with a tribal-state compact. Washington is home to 29 federally recognized tribes, all of which have a Class III gaming compact with the state. Of those, 22 tribes operate a total of 28 gaming facilities in the state.

Higher Wagers, Credit Authorized

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe proposal is broader than the other tribes. In addition to the electronic gaming provision, it also would allow the tribe to offer higher wager limits and extend credit to customers — issues already covered in other tribal compacts.

The agreement also adds funding earmarked for public programs, including an increase in the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s problem gambling contributions.

“Our Jamestown Tribe views this Compact amendment as an opportunity to modernize our 7 Cedars operations and gaming floor to present new progressive and engaging options for our customers. These new electronic products will bring in financial resources for the Tribe to provide more services to our Jamestown community on the Olympic Peninsula,” Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Chairman W. Ron Allen said when the agreement was announced last month. “This negotiation process demonstrates the respectful and meaningful government-to-government relationship between our Tribe and the State. This Compact amendment continues our well-regulated gaming operation in cooperation with the State of Washington.”