When Will Washington Green Light Legalized Sports Betting?

By in Gambling Laws on
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Sportsbook Screen State of Washington

If you were the betting kind right about now, you’d likely be feeling pretty torn on whether or not Washington will see its own legal sports betting market anytime soon. It was just this past March that the state approved Tribal casinos to go ahead and operate, but nothing has moved since then.

Whether it was the allure of tax revenue, the need to compete with neighboring states that have already given sports betting the green light, or simply listening to what their residents want, legalized sports betting has picked up a lot of steam in the past year for Washington.

However, all signs of that momentum have vanished as sports bettors residing in Washington are left confused as to what’s next. Additionally, most proponents have been left wondering when legalized sports betting will actually go live.

A Lot Needs to Happen First

Currently there is a lot of moving parts happening behind the scenes, and all with the intent of legalizing a Tribal sports betting market in the state.

There are 29 different tribes in the state and the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) needs to work with each one of them to ensure regulations and rules are created that suit all needs and expectations.

The fact that so many parties are involved clearly makes conversations and agreements harder to come by. A spokesperson for the WSGC stated that the specifics are being hammered out right now with many of the tribes.

The Commission continues to work diligently on making sure that all negotiations are built on the foundation of their five pillars which are:

“Licensing and Regulation; Agency Funding; Money Laundering and Criminal Enforcement; Sport and Gambling Integrity; Responsible and Problem Gambling.”

Searching For Sports Betting Operators

Glenn Smithson, the General Manager of 7 Cedars Casino and Resort, shared that these discussions with the WSGC are taking place weekly. Furthermore, tribal casinos are also meeting with various global operators about potential partnerships for sports betting:

“There are many sports betting operators taking a look at the Washington market; it is too early to tell who our partner will be. They all have their specialties but one thing for sure, partnering with them and the right provider is very important to the success of each casino and this exciting new gaming feature on the horizon in Washington.”

Most tribal casinos recognize that companies like FanDuel and DraftKings already have successful platforms that can allow the casinos to hit the ground running when sports betting goes live. Additionally, they could also offer unique betting opportunities to targeted customers.

When Will Sports Betting Go Live in Washington?

In addition to trying to hammer out partnerships with sports betting operators and finalizing regulations with the state, tribes are also making unique requests for their own prosperity in this industry.

These requests are what’s reportedly holding up the progress for sports betting going live. Most industry leaders in the state now believe that the first quarter of 2021 will be the earliest that the state will have live sports betting.

The hope is that most of the tribes can come to an agreement on universal requests in order to speed up this process. If not, then late-2021 could be a more realistic timeline for Washington’s sports betting industry.

What About Mobile Sports Betting?

Look around the country and you will see that the states with high sports betting handles and tax revenues are the ones with mobile betting. Unfortunately, Washington’s law doesn’t allow for mobile sports betting.

The issue of online sports betting has popped up in the discussions between the tribes and the WSGC. As of now, the tribes are split on how and when to include mobile betting in the future.

Unfortunately, even if they come to a consensus agreement on wanting mobile sports betting, it will be a lengthy process to come to fruition. There will need to be amendments made to state laws and Tribal gaming compacts in order to include mobile sports betting.

If tribes wait on the inclusion of online betting then Washington’s sports betting industry could be on hold until 2022.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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