Washington Sports Betting Takes Another Key Launch Step

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Washington regulators approved the state’s sports betting licensing rules Wednesday, clearing one more major hurdle for legal wagering to begin this fall.

The Washington State Gambling Commission approved sports wagering rules unanimously at its meeting Wednesday, codifying key regulatory measures for the state’s sportsbooks. Wednesday’s vote advances protocols that will allow state gaming tribes and their affiliate sportsbook operators to work toward licensure, with the first coming as early as September.

Gov. Jay Inslee and 15 Native American tribes reached agreements earlier this year that will permit retail betting at tribal casino sportsbooks and mobile betting within the physical gaming facilities themselves. With state regulations passed, Washington sportsbooks are now awaiting sign-off from the federal Department of the Interior, which by law must approve all tribal gaming compacts.

Federal and state law prohibits statewide mobile wagering, meaning Washington bettors must travel to a tribal gaming facility to place a bet.

Washington Sportsbook Details

The 15 tribes operate more than 20 casinos statewide. It remains to be seen which casinos will feature sportsbooks, but bettors in the Seattle metro area should have multiple options.

Potential sportsbook locations include:

  • Chelan County: Mill Bay Casino
  • Clark County: ilani
  • King County: Emerald Downs Race Track; Casino Snoqualmie; Muckleshoot Indian Casino
  • Kitsap County: The Point Casino; Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort
  • Lincoln County: Coulee Dam Casino
  • Mason County: Little Creek Casino and Resort
  • Okanogan County: Okanogan Casino and Bingo
  • Pacific County: Shoalwater Bay Casino
  • Pierce County: Emerald Queen Casino
  • Skagit County: Swinomish Northern Lights Casino
  • Snohomish County: Angel of the Winds Casino Resort; Tulalip Resort Casino at Quil Ceda; Tulalip Resort Casino
  • Spokane County: Northern Quest Casino; Spokane Tribe Casino
  • Stevens County: Chewelah Casino; Silver Reef Casino

Some of the state’s 14 other sovereign gaming tribes are also reportedly negotiating new compacts. Washington card rooms are not able to accept sports bets.

Next Steps

The Interior Department has 45 days from official compact receipt to make a determination. Inslee formally signed the compacts earlier this month, so a ruling is expected in late August or early September.

If a final ruling comes by early September, it’s possible the first sportsbooks can take bets ahead of the Sept. 9 NFL season opener or the Sept. 12 Week 1 matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts.

Bettors will not be able to wager on in-state college programs such as the University of Washington or Washington State University. Olympic betting is permitted, but Washington sportsbooks will not open before the conclusion of this year’s games.

Worth Noting

Washington’s compacts are part of a busy year for tribal sports betting deals. The Department of the Interior already approved multiple Arizona gaming compacts that permit sports betting and is expected to rule on similar measures for tribes in Florida, Connecticut and Wisconsin later this summer.

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