Nine Washington Tribes Get Final Approval to Begin Sports Betting Activities

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The U.S. Department of Interior announced on Wednesday that it has approved the sports betting compact amendment of nine tribal casinos in Washington, giving them the go-signal to start legal sports betting in Washington.

The amended compacts that were approved belonged to the Puyallup, Tulalip, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Cowlitz, Squaxin, Suquamish, Stillaguamish and Lummi tribes. Meanwhile, the applications of the Muckleshoot, Swinomish, Skokomish, Kalispel, Jamestown S’Klallam, Shoalwater Bay and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are still pending.

Some of the approved tribes are in the process of finalizing vendor deal approvals and they may be ready to launch on September 9th when the 2021 NFL season begins.

Revenue Source for the Tribes

Last July, the Washington State Gambling Commission gave the final approval to the sports betting proposals outlined by the state’s tribes, hoping to get started when the NFL’s 2021 season begins.

The tribes view the upcoming NFL season as a big source of gambling revenue at a time when their communities are badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These Native American tribes need additional cash to fund health, education, and other social services.

According to a statement from the Washington Indian Gaming Association said that regulated sports betting at tribal casinos should begin “in the next few months”, depending on how far they individually are in implementing the needed measures and approval of vendors.

Washington’s Tough Anti-Gambling Laws

The approval of the nine tribes marks the apex of a years-long battle to get spots betting legal in Washington. The Evergreen State has one of the toughest anti-gambling laws in the country.

Mobile and online gambling are still a Class C felony in Washington. To satisfy the law, online and mobile sports betting will be geofenced to prevent access from outside the casino properties and their surrounding premises.

Washington’s sports betting law was passed in March 2020 but it took more than a year for tribal compact amendments to be negotiated with the state. Now it is one the verge of becoming a reality.