Washington online sports betting could become legal based on a series of agreements with tribes to allow both mobile betting and retail sports betting on tribal lands.
Washington State legalized sports betting at its tribal casinos in March 2020, setting the stage for sportsbooks on tribal land pending amended tribal-state compact agreements reached with the state. The first tentative mobile sports betting deal was reached with the Tulalip Tribes in April 2021, followed by a tentative deal with the Suquamish tribe in May 2021.
Two more deals were announced on May 12, 2021, when the Kalispel and Snoqualmie tribes signed tentative agreements with the state to allow them to offer retail betting through their casinos.
At least a dozen other Washington State tribes are expected to pursue their own sports betting deals in the days ahead.
The compact amendments are expected to be finalized by the tribes, state, and federal government in advance of the 2021 football season.
Washington State Sports Betting Recent Events
Mid-April 2021 – The Tulalip Tribes and the Washington State Gambling Commission announce a tentative deal to allow the state’s first sportsbook to open at one of two Tulalip casinos north of Everett, WA.
The Tulalip Tribes are expected to submit a map to the state commission that will outline how mobile sports betting will be “geofenced,” or restricted, to casino properties. That could, potentially, open up access to mobile sports betting apps at tribal hotels and other properties next to the casinos.
Early May 2021 – A tentative sports betting agreement is announced between the state and the Suquamish Tribe. The deal would amend the tribe’s gaming compact with the state to allow sports betting at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort.
Legalization of Sports Betting in Washington State
The Washington State Legislature legalized sports betting at tribal casinos in March 2020 with the passage of House Bill 2638. Governor Jay Inslee signed the bill into law on March 25, 2020.
The bill moved quickly through the legislative process despite stiff opposition from a Nevada card room company that had argued specifically against an emergency clause on the bill. An emergency clause allows legislation to take effect as soon as it becomes law which, the company argued, prevented a public referendum on the matter.
Sports betting legalization in Washington State came less than two years after the US Supreme Court struck down the federal PASPA in May 2018. That decision opened the door for states outside of Nevada to legalize sports wagering within their borders.
All tribes interested in operating sports betting at their casinos must agree to a sports wagering amendment to each tribe’s federally required tribal-state gaming compact agreement. The first of those agreements was tentatively reached with the Tulalip Tribes in April 2021.
Timeline for Washington State Sports Betting
Tribal, state, and federal approval is needed before sports betting can launch in Washington State.
Legislative hearings will be held on the tentative Class III compact deals in Olympia later this spring, followed by a state regulatory vote in June 2021.
Once approved by the Washington State Gambling Commission, the amended compacts will go to the tribal chairs and Gov. Jay Inslee for approval before being sent to Washington D.C. for final approval and publication.