The Suquamish Tribe in Washington State was the first to apply for a sports betting license, according to state officials. The application will allow the tribe sports betting at their casinos pending approval. The Suquamish Tribe, along with three other tribes, filed applications for sports betting licenses.
Washington State tribes are under a regulatory gaming agreement with the state, which requirements for gambling licenses, fees, betting limits, operating hours, employees, etc. are set.
Governor Jay Inslee’s office is confirming that the Suquamish, Kalispel, Snoqualmie, and Tulalip, are offering sports betting pending approval. However, if the tribes get approval, they might still have to wait until 2021 before operations are running.
Washington State Sports Betting
In March of this year, Gov. Inslee passed sports betting bill HB 2638 into law. The new law states that Washington is allowing sports betting at tribal casinos, and players can bet on professional and college sports. However, betting on Washington State teams is not allowed. Also, the state is currently not allowing mobile sports betting to happen.
There was poor timing with Washington legalizing sports betting. The U.S. was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and no sports on U.S. soil were playing. Also, the pandemic is slowing up sports betting legislation. Currently, Washington is still one of the epicenters of COVID-19 in the U.S., which could slow the legalization process down.
Also, the state and tribes both want to maximize the new sports betting law. To do that, it will most likely slow down the process during negotiations. Then, when new laws are in place, tribal casinos will need to start building sportsbooks and infrastructure for sports betting. Casinos also need to look for sports betting partnerships. Many online operators will want to get into Washington State sooner than later, so partnering should not take too long to figure out.
The Washington State Gambling Commission said that 2021 is a more realistic target for launch.
Potential Early Entrants
There is still a lot of time until Washington can start sports betting operations. However, sportsbook operators know they need to find partnerships sooner than later to enter the market, especially with a lack of mobile betting to start. Here are a few possible entrants Washington State bettors could see.
DraftKings is one of the largest U.S. sports betting operators and are currently running in nine states. Also, they are forming an Illinois partnership, which will put them in 10 states. DraftKings continues to enter states with legal sports betting, which makes them a prime candidate to enter Washington. However, with a lack of mobile betting, DraftKings could wait until online wagering is allowed.
FanDuel is another sportsbook that is making its mark across the U.S. They are currently setting up operations in Colorado after partnering with the Denver Broncos. This makes them a good candidate to head into Washington as their Colorado operations are not too far away.
PointsBet launched their U.S. operations in January of 2019, and are becoming one of the fastest-growing sports betting operators in the states. Also, PointsBet has a second headquarters located in Colorado. The headquarters makes it easier for PointsBet to capitalize in the Western U.S. and could be one of the first sportsbooks to partner with a Washington State casino.
Fox Bet can be one of the first sportsbooks to enter the Washington State market. They are another operator that is up in Colorado, which makes the jump into Washington easier. Also, they are growing quickly throughout the U.S. and have FoxCorp and the Fox Sports brand to help build clientele.
Overall, it is still too early to tell who will be the first sportsbooks in the state, or even know when sports betting will be operating. The biggest U.S. betting companies will want to take advantage of Washington early on, and primarily because of the passionate fan base they have.