As announced in the Federal Register, nine tribes in Washington State have officially gained approval to operate in-person sportsbooks on tribal land. This decision to launch legalized sports betting throughout the state comes in time for the start of the NFL season.
“This marks a major milestone in Washington State’s Native American tribes’ efforts to strengthen the self-reliance of our tribal communities,” said Rebecca George, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association.
“This approval marks the completion of a critical regulatory step toward launching sports betting on the premises of tribal casinos. We now expect the availability of safe and regulated sports betting to begin at tribal casinos across Washington State in the next few months.”
The nine tribes that are currently approved to operate sportsbooks are the Cowlitz, Tulalip, Suquamish, Stillaguamish, Squaxin, Spokane, Snoqualmie, Puyallup and Lummi tribes.
According to George, tribal gaming currently supports over 37,000 jobs throughout Washington State. In 2017 the industry yielded over $5.3bn in gross state product. This income yielded around $722m in state revenue, with the Washington Indian Gaming Association believing sports betting can add a further $352m.
Rebecca George added: “We do gaming right and the public can rest assured we will conduct sports betting in a fair and careful manner.
"It also ratifies the legislature’s carefully considered decision to limit sports betting to tribal casinos, which will ensure revenues from this activity will stay in our state and boost our local economy."
On top of the nine tribes that currently have approval from the Department of the Interior, seven other tribes expect to soon gain licenses to operate in-person sportsbooks.
Legal sports betting was signed into law in March 2020 by Governor Jay Inslee. The legal sports betting legislation, named Bill 2638, allows in-person sports betting at Class III gaming facilities.