Washington and South Dakota Launch Retail Sportsbooks Before NFL Kickoff

Washington and South Dakota Launch Retail Sportsbooks Before NFL Kickoff article feature image
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Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Washington Huskies logo.

Washington and South Dakota both opened their first legal retail sportsbooks Thursday, joining Arizona among a trio of states to take their inaugural wagers. Unlike Arizona, Washington and South Dakota will only accept bets within casino properties, but it nevertheless means two more states now given bettors at least one legal wagering option.

There are now 26 states (plus Washington D.C.) taking legal sports bets. Bettors in 17 of them can wager from at least one legal sportsbook via a mobile device within their respective state lines.

Washington, South Dakota and Arizona raced to open before the 2021 NFL regular season kicked off Thursday, allowing their respective sports betting options to capture the entirety of the most lucrative sport for American sportsbook operators. Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Florida and Wisconsin all plan to open books before year’s end.

South Dakota Sportsbooks

South Dakota’s first retail sportsbooks opened in Deadwood, the historic gaming community. BetMGM sportsbooks at Tin Lizzie Gaming Resort and Cadillac Jack’s Gambling Resort were taking bets as of Thursday morning local time.

South Dakota voters overwhelmingly backed a 2020 constitutional amendment that allows sportsbooks at Deadwood as well as certain sovereign Native American casinos. Lawmakers considered legislation that would have allowed statewide mobile wagering, but instead settled on a less politically controversial retail-only bill.

IGT, a leading global sportsbook and gaming operator, as well as ISI, which already opened a retail and digital sportsbook in Colorado, have also applied to run books in Deadwood. There are more than two-dozen Deadwood casinos, many of which plan to open sportsbooks.

Washington Sportsbooks

The first sportsbooks at Washington tribal casinos opened Thursday afternoon local time. Bettors can place mobile bets exclusively within casino properties of eligible tribal casinos.

The Snoqualmie Casino near Seattle took the state’s first legal sports bet Thursday. Eight additional tribes have earned federal approval to open sportsbooks, though not all are expected to do so in the coming weeks or months.

Unlike the commercial casinos in states such as South Dakota, gaming facilities on tribal lands are subject to federal regulations that require a compact between the tribes and their respective state government. Nine tribes signed such a deal earlier this year, allowing them to open sportsbooks, and more could do so in the coming months or years.

Arizona Sportsbooks

Arizona’s first online sportsbooks technically opened before its retail books, becoming the 16th state with multiple legal statewide mobile betting options.

FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM Caesars, WynnBet and Barstool Sportsbook all launched by Thursday morning. State law allows for up to 20 total online sportsbooks licenses with 18 already allocated, though it was unclear how many would go live by the end of 2021.

Arizona is also among the first states to permit in-stadium retail sportsbooks.

Gov. Doug Ducey, who signed the state’s sports betting bill into law in April, on Thursday helped christen the Caesars sportsbooks at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Footprint Center (NBA’s Phoenix Suns), State Farm Stadium (NFL’s Arizona Cardinals), TPC Scottsdale (PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open) and the Phoenix Raceway also plan to open sportsbooks.

A related gaming compact struck between Ducey and 19 Arizona gaming tribes will allow each to open retail sportsbooks at their respective gaming facilities.

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