Washington State Gambling Commission and Snoqualmie Indian Tribe Agree to Gaming Compact Amendments

  • Amendments include higher betting limits and new games
  • Up to 125 gaming tables and 3,000 gaming terminals can be added
  • The tribe must provide more funds for responsible gambling programs and community outreach
  • Efforts are being made to legalize sports betting for racetracks and card rooms
Snoqualmie Casino
The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe and Washington State Gambling Commission have agreed to gaming compact amendments which would increase the number of games and stakes the tribe could offer. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New gaming options coming soon

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe and the Washington State Gambling Commission have reached a tentative agreement to amend the tribe’s Class III gaming compact, adding new provisions. The changes will allow the tribe to offer new and expanded gaming options in Washington.

increase responsible gambling promotion and contribute more to the local community

The tribe operates the Snoqualmie Casino, about a half-hour drive east of Seattle, where customers will soon have access to more gaming tables and higher wagering limits. The compact changes also will see the tribe increase responsible gambling promotion and contribute more to the local community.

Gaming compact proposed changes

There are several proposed changes within the amended gaming compact. The tribe could offer up to 125 gaming tables at one facility or combined between two venues. Around 25% of the gaming tables could have wagering limits as high as $1,000. The casino could also offer $5,000 wagers in some instances once the customer completes a screening process.

For electronic gaming terminals, the deal allows for 3,000 machines in one venue or in two combined. Wagers could go as high as $30.

The compact would allow for new payment methods, including the use of smart cards or near-field communication devices for approved customers.

To be able to offer the new and expanded operations, the tribe must work with state officials and grow its responsible gambling program. The tribe must provide more funding for treatment along with contributions to charity and community impact organizations.

Moving forward

With an agreement reached, there are still steps to be taken to formalize the compact. The Senate Labor, Commerce, and Tribal Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on February 1 to discuss the changes, followed by a meeting in a House committee on the matter on February 4.

The Commission will meet on March 11 and decide on sending the compact to the governor. Snoqualmie Tribal chair Robert De Los Angeles must also approve the deal. Once he provides his signature, the compact moves on to the governor. If the governor approves the changes, the amendment is sent to the Secretary of the US Department of Interior. The secretary can then approve the compact and publish it in the Federal Register.

will significantly improve the guest experience at the Snoqualmie Casino”

Chairman Robert De Los Angeles commented on the negotiated compact, stating it reflects the commitment of the tribe to work with the state, saying: “The negotiated amendments to our Gaming Compact will significantly improve the guest experience at the Snoqualmie Casino.”

If the compact receives approval, it will be some time before the changes are added to the casino. The Problem Gambling Task Force must first provide a report on the new agreement.

Tribal sports betting

The compact changes come less than a year after the state approved sports betting for Native American-operated casinos. In March 2020, the state legalized sports betting for tribal gaming operators only. The approval of ESHB 2638 legalized retail and on-site mobile sports betting.

By the summer, four tribes, including the Snoqualmie Tribe, had applied for sports betting licensing. There are a total of 35 tribal casinos in Washington state and 29 federally recognized Native American Tribes residing in Washington. Each tribe has the ability to apply for licensing.

Fast-forward to this month and an effort to legalize sports betting for licensed card rooms and racetracks in the state has emerged. Senators Curtis King and Marko Lilas introduced Senate Bill 5212 to try to make this a reality.

Past efforts to legalize sports betting in this manner have failed. This new measure seeks to allow sports betting at these other venues, but compacts with Native American Tribes must be negotiated first. Among the stipulations in the bill are a 10% tax on gross gaming revenues and an upfront licensing fee of $100,000.

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