WIGA welcomes compact approvals as sports betting goes live in Washington

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Rebecca George, Executive Director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA), has issued a statement following the news this week that the US Department of the Interior has approved nine tribal sports betting compacts in Washington.  

The department issued final federal approval of the compacts which cover the Tulalip, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Lummi, Puyallup, Squaxin, Cowlitz and Spokane tribes. 

George stated: “This marks a major milestone in Washington State’s Native American tribes’ efforts to strengthen the self-reliance of our tribal communities. Along with these compacts, seven other tribal compacts revised to allow sports betting are expected to receive Interior Department approval in upcoming days. 

“This approval marks the completion of a critical regulatory step toward launching sports betting on the premises of tribal casinos. We now expect the availability of safe and regulated sports betting to begin at tribal casinos across Washington State in the next few months.”

Describing the development as “the culmination of an extensive regulatory approval process”, George added that the department’s consent highlights Washington tribes’ extensive track record over the last three decades of providing safe and well-regulated gaming opportunities for responsible adults in our state. 

“We do gaming right, and the public can rest assured that we will conduct sports betting in a fair and careful manner,” she said. “It also ratifies the legislature’s carefully considered decision to limit sports betting to tribal casinos, which will ensure that revenues from this activity will stay in our state and boost our local economy. 

She added: “Tribal gaming supports more than 37,000 jobs in Washington, and in 2017 yielded more than $5.3bn in gross state product. That activity produced an estimated $722m in state and local government revenue, plus an additional $352m in one-time capital expenditures. Sports betting will now add to that economic benefit.”

In total, 16 tribes submitted amendments to their gaming compacts to include sports betting. Following approval by the Washington State Gambling Commission in June, they were subsequently signed by Governor Jay Inslee in July. The September 1 ratification by the US Interior sees them go into immediate effect, rendering sports betting legal for the first time in Washington.