Retail Sportsbooks At Tribal Casinos In Washington Move Chains Closer To Reality

Posted on April 22, 2021

For Oregon residents heading to Seattle for Seahawks games during the 2021-22 season, the list of potential diversions while there may soon grow.

On Monday, relevant parties took a crucial step toward launching the first retail sportsbooks at tribal casinos in Washington.

The Tulalip Tribes of Washington and the Washington State Gambling Commission have a tentative deal in place. If everything goes well, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at the group’s two casinos in the state could be ready for some football.

Details on the potential first Washington tribal sportsbooks

The Tulalip Tribes operate Quil Ceda Creek Casino and Tulalip Resort Casino. Both are less than an hour’s drive north of Seattle. After over a year since the state government authorized the commission to amend the gaming compact, everyone seems settled on the language.

“Sports wagering is an exciting new opportunity for Washingtonians,” Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Teri Gobin said in an announcement. “The revenue sports wagering provides — like all tribal gaming revenue — stays in Washington, creating jobs and increasing charitable contributions that benefit communities throughout the state.”

“We believe that this compact amendment is a thoughtful approach by the Tribe and State that ensures sports wagering will be conducted with the highest integrity while protecting the public by keeping gambling legal and honest,” added Washington State Gambling Commission Chair Bud Sizemore. “The State and Tribal negotiation team did a great job coming to this agreement.”

Steps remain before WA tribal casinos open retail sportsbooks

Oregonians anxious to visit the properties should continue to watch, however. There are still several legal steps necessary to finalization. They include:

  • Review of the compact terms by the state legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee
  • Final sign-off by the commission and Tulalip Tribes representatives
  • Approval from the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs

Sizemore said he expects the sportsbooks to open at both properties in time for the start of the 2021-22 NFL season. In that time, others might be able to join them. Washington is home to nearly 30 tribal casinos that 23 entities other than the Tulalip Tribes operate.

Under the terms of the 2020 law, they are just as eligible to offer retail sports betting as the Tulalip Tribes. It simply requires a similar amendment to their gaming compacts. Of course, to get on equal footing with the Tulalip Tribes’ operations, time is of the essence.

A coming boon in sports betting at tribal casinos in the northwest?

Oregon residents who want to place legal bets in Washington should note that the market consists only of brick-and-mortar wagering. For that reason, tribal casinos in Washington will be identical to those in the Beaver State.

At Oregon tribal gaming facilities like Spirit Mountain Casino, run by BetMGM, all the action happens at the kiosks or windows. For Oregonians, there is some value. First, retail sportsbooks provide a unique experience that some bettors prefer to online wagering.

Also of value for Oregon bettors is the fact that brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in both states will offer wagering on college sports. The Oregon Lottery Scoreboard betting app, the lone online sportsbook in the state, has voluntarily punted on that action.

The next time the Seahawks have a home game, fans may be able to wager on that contest at a tribal sportsbook just a short drive away. For gaming interests in Washington, this fall could be the most exciting in years.

Photo by AP / Michael Dwyer
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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