April 27, 2021 Casino, Tribal, Land-Based

Report: Washington state voters oppose expanding gaming outside tribal casinos

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A statewide survey from the Washington Indian Gaming Association shows most voters oppose expanding sports betting to non-tribal casinos such as neighborhood card rooms or mini-casinos.

The WIGA conducted a survey of 635 likely voters in Washington State and found a 76% favorable rating of the state’s tribal casinos, compared to a 23% favorable rating for non-tribal gaming facilities.

Approximately 72% of voters were in favor of tribes owning and operating casinos on tribal land, while 17% were opposed and 12% didn’t know.

The most pressing gaming issue at hand in Washington is the potential expansion of sports betting at non-tribal card rooms. The WIGA study reported 41% of voters in favor of permitting in-sports betting at card rooms, while 48% were opposed and 12% didn’t know.

In March 2020 Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a sports betting bill that permits the activity only at tribal casinos with a licensed sportsbook. Mobile sports betting is not permitted.

“Over the last three decades, Washington tribes have partnered with the State of Washington to build a safe, limited and carefully regulated gaming system in our state, with the proceeds going to fund important public services for historically marginalized and underserved Native American communities, said Rebecca George, Executive Director of the WIGA. “As this polling data demonstrates, the public in Washington State supports tribal gaming and the benefits it provides, and understands that a major expansion of gaming in non-tribal card rooms would undermine that system in order to siphon profits into the coffers of out-of-state investors.

The Tulalip Tribe recently became the first Washington tribe to agree to a sports betting agreement with the Washington State Gambling Commission.

Nevada-based Maverick Gaming has backed an initiative to bring sports betting to non-tribal casinos by way of Senate Bill 5212. Maverick operates 19 card rooms in the state.

A supermajority of 60% is required to expand gaming in Washington, whether at the legislative or ballot level.

Proponents of expanding sports betting say it would net the state tens of millions of dollars annually.

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