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Washington Sports Betting

Washington State Sports Betting Legalization News

Washington may have become the latest state to legalize sports betting or it may have set itself up for a lawsuit challenging the law.

Editor Note, Aug. 5, 2021: Licensing rules are approved, making NFL betting possible this season, but wagering will be constrained to physical gambling halls, not mobile and online betting.

Editor Note: Progress is made and 2021 NFL season now looks like the start of legal sports betting in Washington State.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law March 25, 2020 making sports betting legal at tribal casinos in the state. But the fact lawmakers used an ‘emergency’ clause to make the law without the required referendum has opened the door to challenge. That challenge will likely come from card room operators in the state, who also would like to be able to offer sports betting.

Native groups were pleased as retail sports betting is destined only for tribal lands. And that will frustrate online sportsbook groups anxious to offer mobile registration and betting services to Washington residents. So a lot of work has been done, but there may be a lot of work yet to be done before Washington state sports betting legalization really succeeds.

Is sports betting legal in Washington State?

Yes. But Maverick Gaming, which owns nearly half of Washington’s cardrooms, had challenged the legislation and CEO Eric Persson has indicated he will file suit to stop its implementation. So while the law is passed and voters don’t have to decide via a November referendum, expect legal challenges.

Where can I bet at Washington State sportsbooks?

This would be offered at tribal casinos. There are more than 30 Indian casinos in the state, not all of whom have inked deals to participate in this important market.

What about mobile sports betting apps in Washington State?

None is available now and none is envisioned as the approved wording limits Washington sports betting to physical locations on tribal lands.

What is the legal sports betting age in Washington State?

Currently, the legal age for casino gambling in Washington is 18. However, some Indian casinos prohibit people under the age of 21.

Who is allowed to offer Washington sports betting?

As currently configured, only tribal casinos can offer sports betting and it must be offered on tribal lands. Therefore, the opportunity for mobile betting or online sportsbooks in Washington is not envisioned as of now.

Who regulates or licenses Washington State sports betting?

The Washington Indian Gaming Association would appear to be the regulatory body for Washington sports betting. In its wording, the state said:

“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 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.”

View the legislation that has been temporarily passed as of March 2020. A text version of the bill is linked here.

What sports will be favorites of Washington State sports bettors?

Washington features an active professional sports landscape, as well as a busy college sports scene. The NFL’s Seattle Seahawks would be a centerpiece of any sports betting push, along with the Seattle Mariners of MLB. The NBA left town for Oklahoma City, but there are continued rumors the league would like to return. The WNBA has the Seattle Storm.

And the NHL is expanding to Seattle for 2021 season. The MLS would offer betting opportunities on the Seattle Sounders.

In college sports, University of Washington Huskies are regular contenders in the PAC 12’s football scene. Washington State Cougars also compete in the PAC 12. In college basketball, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are often a top contender and many-times champion of the West Coast Conference (WCC). Eastern Washington Eagles compete in the Big Sky Conference while Seattle University Redhawks play basketball in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).