The state of Washington reached its first tribal sports betting compact agreement Friday.
The Washington State Gambling Commission announced its tentative agreement with the Tulalip Tribes of Washington. The tribe operates two gaming facilities in the state and likely will be the first to offer sports betting in Washington.
The Quil Ceda Creek Casino and Tulalip Resort Casino are near the Tulalip Reservation, approximately 40 minutes north of Seattle.
“We believe that this compact amendment is a thoughtful approach by the Tribe and State that ensures sports wagering will be conducted with the highest integrity while protecting the public by keeping gambling legal and honest,” Washington State Gambling Commission Chair Bud Sizemore said in the announcement. “The State and Tribal negotiation team did a great job coming to this agreement.
“There is still a lot of work before the first regulated sportsbook opens in our state, and I’m hopeful sports wagering can launch before the NFL regular season begins.”
A year of negotiations for Washington sports betting
Gov. Jay Inslee signed ESHB 2638 into law on March 25, 2020. The legislation authorized WA sports betting at tribal casinos.
With the law changed, it was time to rework the tribal compacts to include sports betting in WA. Friday’s announcement wrapped nearly a year-long negotiation process with the Tulalip Tribes.
“Sports wagering is an exciting new opportunity for Washingtonians,” Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin said. “The revenue sports wagering provides—like all tribal gaming revenue—stays in Washington, creating jobs and increasing charitable contributions that benefit communities throughout the state.”
Not quite finished in Washington
The Senate and House of Representatives will now procedurally review the compact. The gambling commission expects to vote on the new compact June 10.
The compact then needs final signatures by the tribal chair and the governor. Then it heads to the Department of Interior for consideration and publication in the Federal Register.
As noted, Sizemore expects sports wagering in time for 2021 NFL betting.
Legislation introduced in 2021 looked into sports betting beyond tribal lands at cardrooms and racetracks. The bill, SB5212, did not move following a February 4 hearing in the Senate Labor, Commerce and Tribal Affairs Committee.
More tribal compacts on the horizon?
There are 29 tribal casinos operated by 22 tribes that could offer sports betting. At least half have reportedly expressed interest in sports betting.
Washington Indian Gaming Association Executive Director Rebecca George called the agreement “the next major milestone” in the state’s gaming industry.
In two decades of gaming, the tribal gaming industry has created 37,000 jobs and more than $700 million in state and local taxes, according to the association.
“Tribes and state regulators have consistently worked together to carefully craft effective compact agreements like the one announced today, which allow responsible adults access to gaming while protecting against negative social consequences,” George said. “This demonstrates that the legislature was right when it passed historic, bipartisan legislation in the 2020 session allowing sports betting on the premises of tribal casinos.”