Ongoing negotiations with the state will likely push back sports betting at the Shoalwater Bay Casino until after the first of the year.
On Wednesday, Sept. 1, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs approved amendments to nine tribes’ gambling compacts with the state, which allows them to focus on setting up sports books and lounges, and hiring someone to conduct their sports betting activities. The bureau’s actions were published in the Federal Register on Sept. 1.
The nine federally recognized tribes whose compact amendments were listed Sept. 1 are the Tulalips, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Lummi, Puyallup, Squaxin, Cowlitz and Spokane.
Still awaiting action are Shoalwater Bay Tribe, along with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Jamestown S’Klallam, Kalispel, Muckleshoot, Swinomish and Skokomish.
“Yes, we have a compact with the state to do a sports book, the hold up is with the Washington State Gambling Commission,” said Johnny Winokur, Shoalwater Bay Casino general manager. “There are a lot of rules and protocols and fees that need to be negotiated, which are ongoing at this time.”
In June, Winokur announced the casino was going ahead with its plans to build a 400-square-foot sports book/lounge combo, with multiple big screen televisions, seating and food item specials on game days. At the time, Winokur was hopeful sports betting would be up and running in time for the Seattle Seahawks football season.
With negotiations still ongoing, Winokur now says he personally does not see a sports book opening until the first quarter of 2022, but “one never knows how fast things go” when it comes to state negotiations. “We’ll be ready just as soon as they say go.”
Among the tribes who had their gaming compacts listed in the register this week are the Tulalips and the Stillaguamish. Now they and the other listed tribes can focus on setting up sports books and lounges, and hiring someone to conduct their sports betting activities.
“We’re moving ahead as fast as we can,” said Teri Gobin, chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes. They hope to open areas for sports wagering in the Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Casino between Nov. 1 and Jan. 1, she said.
“We’re getting close but we’re not there yet. We want to be sure we are choosing the right vendors,” she said. “We want to be sure we make the right decision for the tribe.”
Fifteen firms are in the process of getting licensed by the state Gambling Commission to operate in Washington. They include industry giants like DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesar’s Sportsbook, Scientific Games and BetMGM.
One powerhouse, International Game Technology (IGT) has already inked a deal with the Snoqualmie Tribe to power sports betting at the Snoqualmie Casino in King County.
Washington’s sports wagering law, passed in 2020, allows betting on professional, collegiate, international and Olympic sports, as well as e-sports. You will not be able to bet on college teams from Washington, however. And the law bars bets on minor league sports and high school or youth athletics.
Under the mostly identical agreements, bets will be allowed in a sports book environment — similar to what one might see in a Las Vegas casino — as well as at kiosks on a gaming floor. Also, gamblers will be able to set up accounts so they can place bets from a mobile device.
The device would allow wagers elsewhere on the “premises” of casino properties, such as hotels, conference rooms and entertainment spaces attached to a casino. No wagers can be made on golf courses or in convenience stores not directly attached to a casino.
In April, the Tulalip Tribes became the first to reach agreement with the state gambling agency on how to carry out sports betting at its casinos. In June, the state gambling panel unanimously approved deals with most of the tribes.
The Daily World staff writer Dan Hammock contributed to this report.