The Gambling Commission of the Washington State gave its approval to some amendments brought to the gambling compacts of 15 Native American tribes. Under the newly approved changes, the tribes will be given the chance to offer sports betting at their casinos across the state. The approval came as the next step in the complex process associated with the sports betting legalization after the new form of gambling got the Washington State Legislature’s official approval in 2020.
The members of the Gambling Commission voted 7 to 0, with two of them excused, on the requests made by all 15 Indian nations to get permission to offer sports betting services. Now, the amendments to the tribes’ gambling compacts are set to be sent to Governor Jay Inslee for further approval.
After the vote, the gambling regulatory body’s Chair Bud Sizemore confirmed the commission gave the green light to 15 amendments to gambling compacts that are now heading to the Governor’s office. In case they get Inslee’s approval, the issue is set to proceed further to the Federal Government.
The tribes that got their request to start offering sports betting in their casinos approved by the state’s gambling regulator are the Kalispel, Tulalip, Snoqualmie, Suquamish, Jamestown S’Kallam, Muckleshoot, Cowlitz, Colville, Puyallup, Lummi, Spokane, Stillaguamish, Shoalwater Bay, Swinomish and Squaxin Island nations.
Various tribes’ members enthusiastically welcomed the positive vote of the Gambling Commission, praising the expected financial benefits in which the addition of sports betting could result. They further noted that the revenue increase is set to be used to support many social programs and other operations aimed at helping local communities.
All 15 Native American Tribes in Washington State Could Start Offering Commercial Sports Betting
According to reports and testimony of local people, the 15 Native American nations in the state have been successfully offering gambling services in a safe environment for about three decades, with the money generated by the services being contributed to government programs rather than to private investors. So far, Washington State Legislature has rejected the efforts of private card rooms’ owners to start offering sports betting.
As the Tulalip Tribes have explained to the Gambling Commission, the Native American tribes in Washington are collectively the seventh-biggest employer in the state, with non-Indian people currently accounting for about 70% of the tribes’ workforce. The tribe has also claimed that the addition of sports betting services is expected to create even more jobs for the residents of the state.
The Muckleshoot Tribe’s Chair, Jaison Elkins, shared there is still much work to be done in order for the tribes to start offering sports betting as part of their casino operations. Mr. Elkins further explained that the tribes are still dealing with the negative effects of neglect, disease and poverty. Charlene Nelson, chair of the Shoalwater Bay nation, shared that the tribe news more money to fund some activities that would benefit its members. Other tribes, such as the Spokane Tribe, also said more money will help it fund important tribal initiatives, such as its traditional language preservation.
In 2018, the US Supreme Court opened the door to legal sports betting offering at tribal casinos with its decision to annul the federal ban on commercial sports betting in most US states. After that ruling, the Legislature of the state of Washington passed House Bill 2638 in 2020 to officially permit local tribal casinos to offer the new form of gambling.