The Washington State Gambling Commission and the Tulalip Tribes announced a tentative agreement Friday to usher in legal sports betting to a limited degree.
The allowed sports to bet upon include top-level professional leagues, the Olympic Games and other international events, college athletics with the exception of no betting on games involving in-state schools, plus competitive video gaming. However, there will be no online or mobile gaming options outside the walls of the authorized tribal casino resorts.
Gambling Commission Chair Bud Sizemore, said in a prepared statement: "There is still a lot of work before the first regulated sportsbook opens in our state, however I'm hopeful sports wagering can launch before the NFL regular season begins."
The 2021 Washington Legislature turned aside a request from a major operator of private card rooms to expand the venues where sports betting could be offered. Maverick Gaming was the chief backer of a bill to allow non-tribal card rooms and horse racing tracks to join the sports betting action. Yet tribes strongly opposed the proposal, reasoning that their de facto monopoly in the state aligns with public wishes to limit the availability of gambling in Washington. They argued that reserving the sports gaming revenue for tribal governments would also ensure it pays off in spending on housing, health care, natural resources and education in their communities.
“The revenue sports wagering provides stays in Washington, creating jobs and increasing charitable contributions that benefit communities throughout the state,” said Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Goban.
The 35 pages of regulations, limits and integrity controls announced Friday must go through a state and federal approval process before the first legal sports wager can be laid in Washington state. Hearings will be held later this spring by committees of the state legislature followed by the Gambling Commission. Then the governor and tribal chair will need to sign off before the agreement finally goes to the U.S. Interior Department for consideration.
At least four other tribes are known to be in advanced negotiations with the state Gambling Commission to open their own sports wagering operations. They are the Kalispel, Suquamish, Snoqualmie and Muckleshoot tribes.
Gambling Commission Legal and Legislative Manager Brian Considine said about 13 to 14 Washington tribes have registered official expressions of interest with the state to add sports betting to their casino offerings. He said the announcement of the first sports betting agreement with the Tulalips would probably launch a cascade of negotiating rounds with other tribes that were waiting in the wings.
Washington Indian Gaming Association Executive Director Rebeca George said she expects bettors will encounter a variety of setups by the time all of the interested casinos launch their sports wagering operations. "I believe both sides are eager to set up a safe system and are working diligently to get it done," sha said.
National sports betting brands such as DraftKings, FanDuel and William Hill, appear interested in competing for contracts to operate the tribal casino sportsbooks, as evidenced in public comments to the state Gambling Commission.