Sports Betting Now Legal Inside Washington Tribal Casinos

Sports Betting Now Legal Inside Washington Tribal Casinos
© USA Today

Sports betting is now legal in Washington state after Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into to law Wednesday that allows such wagering to Native American tribal casinos.

Betting won’t occur any time soon in the Evergreen State as those venues are now closed due to the coronavirus pandemic statewide and all major collegiate and professional sports have shut down across the nation. Washington is the 21st state with legal sports betting (plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico) and the first to pass a law do so in 2020. At this point there are 18 states where one can legally place a sports bet.

Tribes make an estimated $2.8 billion from legalized betting, the Seattle Times reports. The state must now bargain for compacts with each of the 29 tribes that hope to allow sports betting at their casinos. The addition of sports betting in Washington -- whenever it arrives, and it could be months away -- should be a needed boost for the Native American community.

“It feels timely that everything we’ve been saying is funded by our (tribal) government gaming is now in jeopardy,” Rebecca Kaldor, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, told the Times. “And so, the silver lining is that this will be an added amenity tribes can use to get our communities back up and running in a healthy way.’’

The Washington state betting bill (HB 2638) was passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate. But the bill is considered to be flawed because it does not allow mobile betting anywhere within the state and because of its geographic limitations. Just eight of the casinos where betting is now legal are within 50 miles of metro Seattle.

The lack of a mobile sports betting option has proven to be a hinderance in states that don't have it. Conversely, it has been a boon in states that have robust mobile sports betting -- especially at New Jersey sportsbooks and at the top sportsbooks in Pennsylvania, states where more than 80% of the market comes via mobile.