Washington Legal Sports Betting Now Seeks Federal Approval
Washington state has taken a step forward for legal sports betting. Governor Jay Inslee and 16 tribal nations passed sports betting agreements recently.
The Washington Gambling Commission gave the tribes the ability to seek approval at the federal level following the deal with Inslee. Washington is the eighth state in the western portion of the United States to pass sports betting.
These states have removed Nevada’s sports betting monopoly, which has strengthened New Jersey’s power in the industry. Inslee signed sports betting into law on March 25, 2020.
Next Steps for Washington Legal Sports Betting
Legal sports betting is still months away from going live in Washington. The implementation process has been extensive, considering a bill was passed in March 2020.
Nevertheless, Inslee is still excited about sports betting.
He said, “This will give people the opportunity to participate in a new gaming activity that is safe and well regulated by the tribes.”
The tribes that have agreed to a deal are Colville, Cowlitz, Jamestown S’Klallam, Kalispel, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Shoalwater Bay, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip tribes, Skokomish.
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The Skokomish tribe was the final group to sign a deal. The tribe runs a small casino that’s looking for additional gaming offerings to users, so the deal took longer to accomplish.
Skokomish Tribal Council vice-chair, Tom Strong, said, “We’re a relatively small casino, and we’re looking for additional offerings to make available to our patrons knowing these things are all pretty limited.”
With all the deals in place, the next step is approval from the Department of the Interior at the federal level. This usually takes a couple of months, but the legislature and the tribes aim to implement sports betting by the beginning of football season.
Casinos are already starting to prepare for legal sports betting in Washington. Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, which is run by the Puyallup Tribe, has already built a sports betting parlor.
Complaints From Non-Tribal Casinos
Washington has only legalized sports betting at tribal casinos. Sports betting is turning into a massive business in the United States, so this legislation has not been well received by commercial casino operators.
Eric Persson of Maverick Gaming said, “This is one of these things where it’s a win-win. And I’m glad the tribal gaming is getting it. Commercial gaming needs it as well.”
Some legislators believe non-tribal casinos should have access to legal sports betting. In February of 2020, Senator Curtis King said, “The tribes will share in it, but I think our card rooms and our employees within those cardrooms and the state of Washington should benefit from sports wagering.”
Commercial gaming operators have established multiple lobbying efforts, and they will make a plea during the next legislative session to be included in the legal sports betting market.