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US – Washington Governor adds signature to tribal sports betting laws

By - 12 July 2021

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has now signed the tribal sports betting compacts, but before the Washington State Gambling Commission can issue licenses to the tribes, US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland must give her signature.

In order for each compact to become effective, it must be entered into the Federal Register. Then, the .

Executive Director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association Rebecca George, a citizen of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, said: “The state and the tribes agree that our tribal gaming system is safe, regulated and responsible, and that it works well for Washington state residents.”

The Washington State Gambling Commission unanimously approved the 15 negotiated tribal compact agreements at its June 10 public meeting. Tribes with approved compacts include the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Lummi Nation, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Shoalwater Bay Tribe, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Spokane Tribe of Indians, Squaxin Island Tribe, Stillaguamish Tribe, Suquamish Tribe, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Tulalip Tribes. The Skokomish Indian Tribe submitted a compact to the commission that was approved Thursday, July 8, and to will be submitted to the governor for review.

“Tribal communities and the Washington Indian Gaming Association are excited about Gov. Inslee and tribal chairs signing the sports betting compact amendments this week. With over 70 per cent bipartisan support of the legislature, a unanimous vote of the WSGC, and now full support of the governor’s office, this action is further confirmation that the state and the tribes agree that our tribal gaming system is safe, regulated and responsible, and that it works well for Washington state residents,” George said. “We have tribal, state and federal government regulations. We work hand and hand with legislature and are one of, if not the most, regulated industries in the country. The revenues generated from Indian gaming stay in Washington, creating thousands of jobs and benefiting communities across our state.”

W. Ron Allen, Chairman and CEO of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe who also serves as board chair of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, added: “Our state has taken a cautious and deliberative approach to gaming, and limiting sports betting to tribal casinos keeps with this approach. Carefully controlling access and keeping gambling out of the vast majority of neighborhoods protects public safety. And if you chose to place a sports bet at a tribal casino, rest assured it will be subject to multiple layers of regulation and oversight. Tribal gaming has been and will continue to be conducted in a safe and responsible manner.

Public opinion research conducted earlier this year showed that more than 70 per cent of Washington state voters supported gaming on tribal lands and, by a two-to-one margin, support the law that limits sports betting to tribal casinos, most of which are located at a distance from population centers. Soon, interested adults will be able to travel to a tribal casino to wager on major league pro sports, Olympic events, and collegiate sports (betting on in-state colleges is prohibited).

Mr. Allen added: “The public understands that the tribal gaming system is safe and limited, and that it strikes the right public policy balance. All of us are benefiting from the current system, and with tribal and state governments working together in a close partnership to regulate gaming activities, we can all rest assured that sports betting will also be conducted responsibly in Washington.”

In Washington, tribal gaming already generates $722m in tax revenue, and supports over 37,000 jobs – 70 per cent of which belong to non-tribal residents.

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