Last Thursday, the Snoqualmie Tribe opened Washington state’s first retail sportsbook at the Snoqualmie Casino located just outside of Seattle, the final step in a process that took the Evergreen State since March 2020 to make a reality.
Washington state joined Arizona and South Dakota, who also launched sports betting operations last Thursday just in time for the start of the 2021 NFL season, a timely goal that from the start WA lawmakers and tribal leaders were hoping they could achieve.
In a statement released to the press, Washington Gaming Association executive director Rebecca George pointed out how Thursday’s move helps tribes achieve their goal of financial autonomy.
Today’s commencement of sports betting at the Snoqualmie tribe’s casino marks an important milestone in the progress that Washington State’s tribes have made in regaining their self-reliance. The launch of sports betting is going to provide a real boost for tribal communities that are still working to recover from the tough impacts of COVID shutdowns.
More Washington tribes are expected to follow the Snoqualmie Tribe’s lead.
Though the Snoqualmie Tribe was the first tribe to open a Washington sportsbook, there are eight more expected to launch in the upcoming weeks as we reported in Nine WA Tribes Entered in Federal Registry, Sports Betting Set for NFL Season.
The other eight Washington tribes looking to launch their own sportsbooks soon are:
There are also seven additional tribes that are still waiting for the Department of the Interior to approve the compacts that were recently updated and submitted for approval, and those are also expected to be entered into the Federal Registry shortly.
The sooner the better since the projected tribal revenue that could be generated from Washington sports betting is substantial.
Right now there is essentially a tribal monopoly on sports betting in Washington since the gaming expansion is not subject to state taxes, but non-tribal interests are also hoping to somehow get in on these potential profits.
The lure of big bucks from legal gambling has industry experts like Maverick Gaming CEO Eric Persson frothing, as he believes that expanding sports betting to card clubs and racetracks outside the tribes could generate at least $50 million in annual state taxes.
Persson thinks this tribal monopoly on sports gambling needs to be broken and told the Seattle times recently that too much money is at stake to continue to ignore this inherently sticky situation.
It’s no secret COVID has been devastating both in Washington and around the world. I think that it’s a lot harder to turn down $100 million biennially than it was maybe a year ago.
Whether that level of expansion will happen remains to be seen but given how lucrative the legalization of sports betting has been to other states so far, it could be something that Washington lawmakers decide to take another look at soon.
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