Four Washington Tribes Are First to Apply for Sportsbook Licenses

  • Suquamish first out of four Washington tribes to submit application
  • Retail, on-site mobile sportsbooks allocated exclusively to state's Native American casinos
  • Washington Indian Gaming Association reported widespread “excitement”
  • All four tribes yet to announce partnerships with sportsbook operators
Suquamish tribe members gathered together
The Suquamish were the first of four tribes to apply for a sports betting license in Washington. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

First Native American tribes to submit applications

Four tribes have applied for sports betting licenses in the state of Washington. The Suquamish filed their papers first, followed by the Kalispel, Snoqualmie, and Tulalip tribes. The four are in the vanguard of Washington’s 29 federally recognized Native American tribes, all of which can legally apply to run sportsbooks out of 35 tribal casinos statewide.

sportsbooks allocated exclusively to Native American casinos in Washington

With retail and on-site mobile sportsbooks allocated exclusively to Native American casinos in Washington when sports betting was legalized in March, momentum is building for the four Evergreen State tribes to offer sports wagering options in the coming months.

At least five properties to set up sportsbooks

Pending regulatory negotiations with the Washington State Gambling Commission, the four applicants will offer legal sports odds from at least five casinos across Washington. The properties include Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, Snoqualmie Casino, Tulalip Resort Casino, Kalispel Casino, and the Kalispel-owned Northern Quest Casino.

The license applications follow the Washington State Senate’s 34-15 vote in favor of legalizing sports betting in tribal casinos earlier this year.

There’s definitely excitement”

“This is the first new opportunity for a gaming product in our state for quite a while,” Rebecca George, director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, told KUOW News. “There’s definitely excitement from the sports bettor to the operator and other companies that are involved,” she added. The association has 25 of the state’s federally recognized tribes as its members.

Work to be done ahead of launch

A lot of work remains to be done in order for tribal sportsbooks to launch, including partnering with sportsbook operators. While big names such as DraftKings and FanDuel have been bandied about, there have been no official partnerships yet announced by the four tribes.

no official partnerships yet announced by the four tribes

Bettors in Washington are expected to jump at the opportunity to wager on sports using on-site mobile interfaces at the tribal casinos. In 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled for states beyond Nevada to allow sports betting but left it up to individual states to set their own policies.

Washington became the first state to legalize sports betting in 2020. Its ruling to allow sports betting exclusively in tribal casinos was welcomed by the Native American community. Tribes form one of the state’s top ten employers, and sports betting is seen as an opportunity to recover from the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the official website of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, the Indian economy in Washington State reported over $5.3bn in gross state product in 2017. It yielded an estimated $722m in state and local government revenue, adding $352m in one-time capital expenditure.