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Sports betting simplified
Washington has legalized sports betting on reservation lands of federally recognized Native American tribes in the state. It is technically available in both retail and online formats, but the vast majority of sports betting in the state occurs in person. Only one location in the state has its own on-site mobile sports betting app: the Snoqualmie Casino.
All of the legal sportsbooks in Washington are located at tribal casinos. Roughly half of such casinos in the state have or will soon have sportsbooks.
State of Washington Sports Betting Overview
Because Washington sports betting law is so restrictive about where you can bet, most tribes have confined their sports betting options to their retail gambling facilities. To date, only a single sportsbook app offering online sports betting promos has launched in Washington.
The Snoqualmie Casino sportsbook app allows players to make their wagers from anywhere on the casino's premises. While restricting the use of an app to players physically at the same casino seems to defeat the point of a mobile sportsbook, it does offer bettors the chance to make in-play wagers and — to an extent — is more convenient than filing a bet at the teller window.
While there are no other sportsbook apps live in Washington at the moment, a few top online books are partnered with some of the other tribes around the state. In many cases, they are serving as the brand name and/or using their technology to power the retail sports betting operations at these locations. So, although there is no news about new sportsbook apps coming to Washington soon, they might show up at some point.
In addition to these partnerships, Little Creek Casino Resort is allied with sports betting technology provider IGT. Whether this partnership will lead to an app is unclear.
Sports betting became legal in Washington by virtue of the passage of HB 2638. The bill went to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk in March 2020 after passing both chambers of the Washington Legislature convincingly. Inslee’s signature on the bill rendered it into law on March 25, 2020.
The first location to accept a legal sports bet in the state was the Snoqualmie Casino in Snoqualmie. The successful wager marked the end of a year-and-a-half of preparation.
The text of the law made each of the state’s federally recognized Native American tribes eligible to offer sports betting on their reservation lands. They must apply to amend their gambling compacts, but any tribal groups with casino locations may do so. However, Washington sports betting is currently the subject of a lawsuit between Maverick Sports and the federal government.
Maverick is appealing a District Court ruling that Maverick was incorrect in assessing the validity of Washington compacts that permitted tribes in the state to offer sports betting. The result of the lawsuit could change who can offer sports betting in Washington in the future.
The current law allows both retail and online sports betting. However, the law strictly limits sports betting activity to actual tribal lands, no matter how it occurs. So, although the law technically allows online sportsbooks, the reality is that it sets up a mostly retail market.
Washington’s sportsbooks can offer wagering on almost any type of event. The law mentions professional sports, college sports, esports, and the Olympics as acceptable fodder for a bet. The only exceptions are wagers involving in-state colleges and universities and minor league games. So, you can’t bet on the University of Washington Huskies, the Washington State Cougars, or any other state school.
State of Washington Sports Betting Timeline
Dec 21, 2021 – Tacoma’s newest sportsbook, the Emerald Queen, is open for business.
Sep 8, 2021 – The Snoqualmie Casino launched its Snoqualmie Sportsbook, allowing WA bettors to wager on the NFL.
Jun 11, 2021 – Washington has approved the sports betting compacts allowing sports betting to be offered at tribal casinos.
May 12, 2021 – Sportsbook-related tribal compacts have been approved by Gov. Jay Inslee with the Kalispel Tribe.
Apr 19, 2021 – The state of Washington and the Tulalip Tribe have agreed on sports betting.
Feb 5, 2021 – A new bill for Washington commercial sports betting has received its first reading, although the Governor seems set on tribal sports betting.