Almost a year after the Legislature of Washington voted in favor of the legalization of sports betting, local lawmakers have agreed on the terms for the opening of the first sportsbook of the state. As announced by the Legislature, the sportsbook is set to be hosted inside one of the two casinos owned and operated by the Tulalip tribe.
A couple of days ago, the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) and the Tulalip Tribes revealed they had signed a tentative agreement under which sports betting would be legally offered to a limited degree. The deal is likely to precede seminal agreements that are expected to be reached between the Washington Legislature and other tribal casinos across the state, with the tribes having received exclusivity for this form of gambling.
Bud Sizemore, the Chair of the WSGC, explained there was more work to be done before the first regulated sportsbook starts operation in the state but he remained hopeful that sports betting could become available before the regular NFL season started.
The allowed sports that would become available under the gambling expansion of the state include the Olympic Games and other international sports events, high-level professional leagues, college athletics apart from betting on in-state school games, video gaming such as eSports. For the time being, Washington will not allow online or mobile sports betting options outside the authorized tribal casinos and casino resorts.
More Washington Tribes Willing to Offer Sports Betting Services
Earlier in 2021, Washington Legislature rejected a request made by an owner of some private card rooms, as it sought to increase the number of facilities where sports betting could be offered. Maverick Games was one of the main supporters of a bill seeking to see horse racing tracks and non-tribal card rooms across the state start offering sports betting services.
Currently, a total of 19 neighborhood card rooms across the state of Washington are owned and operated by Maverick Gaming. These venues are sometimes called “mini-casinos”.
The abovementioned proposal faced strong opposition from local tribes that challenged it. They further noted that sports betting revenue by the tribes would result in more money spent on housing, education, natural resources and health care in their communities. The expansion of gambling options for Washington Native American nations would help them create new jobs and boost contributions to charity organizations, too.
The tentative agreement, involving 35 pages of regulations, integrity controls and limits, would have to receive the approval of state and federal authorities before the first sports bet can be legally placed in the state of Washington. Later this spring, hearings are set to be held by Committees of the state legislature, followed by the WSGC. Public feedback on the issue is also set to be gathered.
Then, the Governor of the state and the Chair of the tribe would have to sign off in order for the agreement to finally goes to the US Interior Department for further consideration.
Apart from the Tulalips, there are no less than four other tribes known to be in advanced negotiations with the Washington State Gambling Commission, as they also seek permission to open their own sports betting operations – the Suquamish, Muckleshoot, Kalispel and Snoqualmie tribes.