Washington State tribal compacts receive federal approval


The launch of sports betting in Washington State is coming soon. Tribal casino operators recently received approval from the United States Department of the Interior, which was the final hurdle needed to get the ball rolling to start offering services. It is expected that some operators will be live by the start of the upcoming NFL season.

Ready to Go

In Washington State, there are several tribes that had their compacts approved while others have pending applications. Many tribes are working on finding vendors and completing additional actions to prepare for services to begin. Among the approved tribes include Snoqualmie, Puyallup, Cowlitz, and Tulalip.

Proposals provided by tribes were approved by the Washington State Gambling Commission in July and then sent to the Department of Interior. With the process moving forward steadily, it looks like the operators will be able to start operating in time to take advantage of the NFL season.

Revenues are much needed in the state as Native American communities were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortfalls in earnings had affected the education, social services, and health programs of the tribes.

According to Rebecca George, the executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, the timing for launch will be based on the individual casinos. How far the operators are in the process of implementing measures. This would include adding vendors for services as well as completing security and logistic needs.

Ms. George also pointed out that it is not a race to see who will launch first, as the tribes all have the same goal, to create a new gambling product and system in the state.

Long Time Coming

Sports betting has seen continual growth in the United States since May 2018 when the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This opened states to legalize sports betting if they chose to. State after state, legislation was enacted to get started offering retail and online sports betting services.

In Washington State, legislation was approved in March 2020, but it would take time for the amendments to be made within each tribe’s compact with the state. Negotiations had to take place and specific elements worked out before the industry could move forward.

One area that caused a little strain was mobile betting. In the state, mobile wagering is a Class C felony. For the new sports betting industry, players can use a mobile to bet, but only if they are located in a tribal casino or the surrounding area.