A newcomer to the world of legalized sports betting is the state of Washington. On March 25, 2020, the state approved retail sports betting at tribal casinos. Hopefully that is a gateway to something more, including online and mobile betting, but it is a start for now and something that will be able to generate a bit of revenue for the state’s coffers.
The whole thing is something of a process in Washington, though. As we’ve talked about with a lot of other states, including ones like Arizona, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Florida, navigating through the terms of the tribal gaming compacts has forced both lawmakers and the tribes to walk a fine line. Adding something like sports betting means renegotiating the terms of the contract so that the state gets an additional cut from the tribes and so that the tribes can set up their blueprints for how betting will go.
Washington has a lot of gaming in place already. There are 29 tribes in the state and while not all of them are engaged in sports betting, there are a lot of gaming houses and card rooms around the state. The Washington sports betting bill gives exclusive sports betting rights to the tribes. It passed through the legislature by a wide margin, perhaps due in large part to the fact that it is such an insulated expansion of gaming. There is no online or mobile betting in the state of Washington, so it is not open to large swaths of the population. Just those that go and place bets in person at the retail sportsbooks.
Furthermore, adding to the restrictive nature of the bill, betting on games that involve colleges in the state of Washington is prohibited. That could certainly cut into the bottom line in both football and basketball seasons with teams like Washington, Washington State, and Gonzaga in action in the fall and winter.
This bill isn’t exactly in the true spirit of what New Jersey and other states saw with the opportunities presented by the overturning of PASPA in May 2018. Murphy v. NCAA was supposed to create a much freer market for sports betting and that is the case in a lot of places. While Washington now has legalized sports betting, the narrow purview will leave a lot of money on the table and leave a lot of Washingtonians out of action.
Just about all of the states that have both retail and online betting have seen massive increases in tax revenue and handle once online setups were complete. The convenience of betting from home is second to none. Because of the influence of the tribes and their gaming compacts, it seemed like the state of Washington just made a move to get something done.
Perhaps this serves as the proverbial door opening to something more. It probably won’t, but at least Washington residents do have the option to engage in legal sports betting, even if it isn’t the most spectacular of setups.
How Do I Bet on Sports in Washington?
Once the tribal casinos are able to get operations running, you will be able to bet on sports in Washington. We will see if expanded betting makes it way to Washington in the future with mobile and online betting options, but for now, it will be retail only.
Oregon is another option for Washingtonians, but their setup is less than stellar as well, with the ScoreBoard app through the Oregon Lottery. On the plus side, mobile betting is allowed in Oregon and those that want to can slide across the border and place their bets through that app rather than make the trip to a tribal casino. On the other hand, if you’re going to make a drive, it would probably make more sense for Washingtonians to keep the money at home.
In any event, those are the two options right now for Washington residents. Place bets in Oregon or remain patient for the start of operations at home. Montana to the east also has sports betting through the lottery with its Sports Bet Montana app.
More traditional options are always available, like flying to Las Vegas to place bets from anywhere in the state once you get set up with in-person registration for the different sportsbooks that are out there.
Washington has legalized sports betting and will be up and running sometime soon with the retail sportsbooks at the tribal casinos that are looking to set up shop, so waiting it out may be your best bet for now.