Four Washington state tribes – the Tulalip, Suquamish, Snoqualmie and Kalispel – have entered into negotiations with the state to launch sports betting. The move follows on from the passing of legislation earlier this year when the state authorized sports wagering solely for tribal operators.

The four tribes are now in the process of navigating a host of regulatory details with the state Gambling Commission to ensure measures are in place to address safer gambling, betting integrity, licensing and funding for treatment of problem gambling. 

Quoted by NW News Network, Washington Indian Gaming Association Director Rebecca George said: “There’s definitely excitement from the sports bettor to the operator and other companies that are involved. This is the first new opportunity for a gaming product in our state for quite a while.”

The decision to restrict sports wagering to tribal interests has not been without controversy. But the legislature has made it clear in the final version of the bill that tribes will have exclusive rights. “It has long been the policy of this state to prohibit all forms and means of gambling except where carefully 10 and specifically authorized and regulated,” it stipulated.

In justifying that exclusivity, it added: “The legislature intends to further this policy by authorizing sports wagering on a very limited basis by restricting it to tribal casinos in the state of Washington. 

“Tribes have more than twenty years’ experience with, and a proven 14 track record of, successfully operating and regulating gaming facilities in accordance with tribal gaming compacts. Tribal casinos can operate sports wagering pursuant to these tribal gaming compacts, offering the benefits of the same highly regulated environment to sports wagering.”