Washington Sports Betting

  • Sports betting rules and regulations for Washington could be announced as early as mid-January 2021.
  • Approval on the structure drawn up for the sports gaming market in the Evergreen State are speculated to occur by March.
  • Potentially, 29 Tribes could open sportsbooks in the Evergreen State once licenses start being handed out.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The state of Washington legalized Tribal sports betting in March 2020 and rumor has it that the state expects to launch the new market by the Spring of 2021 once rules and regulations have been solidified.

Should sportsbooks begin to pop up by this time, that would be a win for the Evergreen State as the process to go through each Tribal Gaming Compact to include wagering on sports has proved to be a monumental task.

Washington is home to 29 Tribes, each of whom has the right to go before the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) individually and request licenses to operate sportsbooks.

By law, the WSGC has to honor each Tribes request and will assign a team for every request they receive, which could mean 29 teams of employees at the WSGC working to make the proper adjustments to Tribal Gaming Compacts that would legally allow for the launch of sports betting venues at these gaming establishments.

In August, LegalSportsBetting spoke to WSGC’s Director, David Trujillo who expressed that no set timeline could be put on when the rollout of the sports gambling market would take place because it’s not a typical situation when dealing with Tribes. Should more Tribes group together for the same type of changes to their compacts, it would make for a quicker and easier process.

“We have great hope that as individual negotiations progress that at some point they will converge and we will have a model compact, a model appendix, that is our great hope,” said Trujillo.

So How Can Spring Be The Timeframe?

Of the 29 Tribes, there have been four since the Summer that have been named as requesting sportsbook expansions; the Kalispel Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, the Tulalip Tribe, and the Snoqualmie Tribe.

However, the change in a quicker timeline has come from Governor Jay Inslee extending the period for when the WSGC has to pay back a $6 million loan from earlier in the year. The original due date for the entire sum plus interest was set for June 2021 but under the new budget proposal issued by the Governor, the WSGC now has until 2023 to repay the state.

“This is really great news, it gives us a lot of flexibility,” said Chris Stanley, Gambling Commission CFO, after Thursday’s meeting. “I’m grateful to the Governor for putting this in the budget.”

The loan was given by the state to help rid Washington of illegal sportsbooks prior to a live launch of the legal industry.

When Does Washington Expect To Launch Sports Betting?

A pre-licensing packet is being drawn up by the WSGC for all interested Tribes to get a jump on the licensing process.

The difference when dealing with Tribes as opposed to commercial gaming operators is the requirement of both the Tribal and state governments to agree on the terms of the industry rather than just the state, which takes more time.

The next meeting for the WSGC is set for January 15 where rules and regulations for the Washington sports wagering market are slated to be announced. This could allow the approval of these rules and regulations to be done by March.

After approvals, the structure of the market and its documents will be published within the Washington State Register where Tribes will then be greenlit to open up their sports betting venues.

The law allows for strictly retail sports betting at this time but Trujillo and the Tribes, like that of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, haven’t ruled out future mobile sports betting platforms.

For now, it looks as though Washington and sports bettors can expect to visit one of the 29 potential locations across the state by the Summer of 2021 or sooner and begin placing legal sports bets.

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