Sports betting services became officially available to players in the state of Washington, right in time for the beginning of the National Football League (NFL) regular season. On September 9th, the first legal sports betting operation in the state of Washington started operation at the Snoqualmie Casino – a tribal casino situated in the eastern suburbs of Seattle.
The first-ever wager on sports was placed by Shawn Kemp, a retired Seattle SuperSonics player. This has been described as a historical moment by Stanford Le, the CEO of the Snoqualmie Casino, who also said that it was really a great accomplishment that the Indian Tribe managed to get the sportsbook open just in time for the beginning of the NFL season.
The new sportsbook of the tribe came to replace a room that once used to host slot machines. Now, the sportsbook premises features a service counter where bets are accepted, some automated betting kiosks, plus around 40 TV screens playing various sports games, some lounge chairs, and a bar.
For the time being, football remains the most popular sport among US bettors, so many interested tribes have been applying to the US Interior Department and the Washington State Gambling Commission to get the necessary gaming agreements in order to be able to offer the new form of gambling for the 2021 NFL season.
Sports Betting Services to Bring Benefits Beyond the Tribal Communities
Back in 2019, the Washington lawmakers voted to officially launch sports betting across the state, with some restrictions being applied to the availability of the new form of gambling. Digital sports betting services, however, are currently not permitted under Washington state law, apart from when being on the tribal casino property.
Washington bettors are allowed to place wagers on professional and college football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, boxing, mixed martial arts and motorsports. They are not permitted to place bets on any games that involve minor league teams or in-state college league teams.
The Snoqualmie Tribe has become the one to launch the first legal sportsbook in the state, with fifteen other Native American nations in Washington being in the final stages of securing an official approval from federal and state authorities. Under the state gambling legislation, sports betting services will be offered only on tribal casinos’ premises.
So far, the US Interior Department has given its approval for the amendments of the existing sports betting compacts of the Spokane, Tulalip, Suquamish, Lummi, Stillaguamish, Squaxin Island, Puyallup and Cowlitz tribes, with these Native American nations’ sportsbooks expected to become operational in the next weeks or months. Several other tribes, including the Kalispel, Skokomish, Swinomish, Muckleshoot, Colville, Jamestown S’Klallam and Shoalwater Bay tribes are awaiting further approval for their sportsbooks from the competent authorities.
According to the executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, Rebecca George, the launch of sports betting in the state of Washington will help tribal communities that are still trying to recover from the negative impacts of the shutdowns associated with the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Apart from that, Ms. George noted that the benefits from the implementation of the new form of gambling will extend beyond the tribal communities.