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DOI approves Washington sports betting compacts

Washington gambling news

Sports betting in Washington State is now a done deal, and bettors in the jurisdiction can look forward to placing legal wagers in the first week of the upcoming football season.

On Wednesday, the US Department of the Interior signed off on several Washington sports betting compact amendments okayed by the state regulator in June this year, paving the way for tribal gaming operators to add event wagering to their establishments.

The Evergreen State passed the legislation legalizing both retail and online sports betting at tribal-operated casinos in March last 2020, but the process of getting the industry rolling did not start until early this year. The approval by the Department of the Interior was the final hurdle for the process.

All eyes are now on the Washington State Gaming Commission, which is expected to start issuing vendor permits to platform providers and other suppliers in the coming days. Upon approval, the licensees will be free to launch in the state in partnership with the gaming tribes cleared by the federal government.

Nine of 16 compact amendments approved, seven more to go

The State of Washington presented 16 sports betting compact amendments to the DOI in June, but only nine have been approved by the federal agency as of Wednesday.

The published compacts are for Cowlitz, Lummi, Puyallup, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Squaxin, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, and Tulalip tribes. The seven gaming tribes still waiting for the green light from the Department are the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Jamestown S’Klallam, Kalispel, Muckleshoot, Skokomish, Shoalwater Bay, and Swinomish.

The pending pacts are set to be approved by the DOI in the coming days.

WIGA ecstatic about federal approval

The Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) issued an official statement expressing its excitement at receiving federal approval on Wednesday, terming the move as a major milestone in the tribes’ efforts towards becoming self-reliant.

“This marks a major milestone in Washington State’s Native American tribe’s efforts to strengthen the self-reliance of our tribal communities,” said WIGA Executive Director Rebecca George.

“This approval marks the completion of a critical regulatory step toward to 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.”

What will Washington sports betting look like?

The sports wagering law passed by the Evergreen State’s legislature last year provides for both retail and mobile betting at all tribal-operated gaming facilities with Class III Gaming permits.

Some 22 of the state’s 29 Native Indian tribes operate this type of establishments, but only 16 have amended their gaming compacts with Governor Jay Inslee to add the vertical to their offering. These tribes will partner with vendors of their choice to operate sportsbooks in their facilities, but the partnerships will require the approval of Tribal Gaming Agencies and the State Gaming Commission before they can launch.

The majority of the tribes are in the process of finalizing their agreements with service providers, and some are expected to launch in the first week of the 2021/2022 NFL season.

The market will be legal for all residents of the state and visitors who are at least 21 years old, and the lines offered will be on both collegiate and professional sporting events. However, mobile betting will be allowed within the premises of licensed casinos only.

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