Four Tribes File for First Sports Betting Licenses in Washington

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians is one of the largest employers in Spokane and Pend Oreille Counties as the owner and operator of two gaming and entertainment attractions: Northern Quest Resort & Casino (pictured) and Kalispel Casino.

Five Tribal properties may set up sportsbooks

Four Tribes seek to be the first to start accepting wagers on sports in Washington State. The Tulalip, Suquamish, Snoqualmie and Kalispel Tribes have submitted their applications for sports betting licenses.

In March, the state legalized retail and on-site mobile sportsbooks exclusively at Tribal casinos. The move came when the COVID-19 pandemic was ravaging the country, and gaming operations nationwide were temporarily shut down. At the time, the Washington State Gambling Commission indicated that once the coronavirus crisis subsided, it would negotiate new compacts with any of the 29 Tribal applicants that operate approximately 35 casinos across 15 counties in the state of Washington. 

As Rebecca George, director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, previously expressed, sports betting is seen as an avenue to recover from the economic drought of the COVID-19 crisis. The association counts 25 Tribes as members. “It’s an opportunity for some new revenue that will help in a time when Tribes need it most,” George said.

Pending regulatory negotiations, the four Tribes will offer legal sports odds from at least five casinos: Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, Snoqualmie Casino, Tulalip Resort Casino, the Kalispel-owned Northern Quest Casino and Kalispel Casino.

The four applicants have yet to announce partnerships with sportsbook operators, though major names have been batted around, such as DraftKings and FanDuel.

While the law permits wagers on professional and college sports, bets on Washington state collegiate teams are prohibited. 

All this said, it remains to be seen if the NFL will resume play this fall. Last week, the league announced it’s eliminating weeks 1 and 4 of the 2020 preseason. 

Whereas some Washington Tribes initially intended to launch sportsbook operations ahead of the NFL 2020 season, it appears the pandemic put a kink in plans. As Kevin Zenishek, executive director of casino operations for the Kalispel Tribe-owned Northern Quest Casino told Legal Sports Report, his hopes for a pre-NFL season sportsbook debut has been postponed to the end of 2020. 

READ MORE: Sports Betting Industry Poised to Emerge From COVID-19 Crisis Strong as Ever