Sports betting in Washington is underway. The Snoqualmie Casino accepted the first wagers in September 2021, just in time for the 2021-22 NFL season’s kickoff. It was one of nine Washington Native American tribes to have Department of the Interior approval over sports betting-related changes to their state compacts. These tribes have either opened their sportsbooks already or will do so in a short time.
Sports betting became legal in Washington in 2020. The Evergreen State first gave legal sports betting a shot in 2019, but it earned another shot a year later when that attempt failed. The 2020 law allows for sportsbooks at Washington tribal casinos, pending new tribe-state compacts. So far, 15 tribes have renegotiated their compacts. Meanwhile, Washington online betting is not permitted outside tribal casinos. It’s a very limited form of online gambling for a state that has made gambling online a felony.
Here is a look at how Washington sports betting finally became legal as well as information about what bettors can expect when wagering at the new sportsbooks in the state’s tribal casinos.
Updated: October 5, 2021
BetMGM announced a partnership with the Puyallup Tribe to operate retail sports betting at the Emerald Queen Casino.
The Puyallup Tribe operate two casinos in Fife and Tacoma and pending regulatory approval, sports betting could be available in the near future.
Is sports betting legal in Washington?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Washington thanks to the passage of ESHB 2638 in 2020. However, it is legal only at the state’s tribal casinos.
Will Washington have legal online sportsbooks?
No. Well, not really. Washington does allow mobile sports betting, although not in the same way many states do. Most states with legal online sportsbooks permit books to accept wagers from bettors located anywhere within the state’s borders.
In Washington, however, the law allows the tribal casinos to offer mobile sports betting only on their properties. As of now, none of the casinos with retail sportsbooks in mind have added an online option or partnered with anyone to offer it. Thus there are no legal online sportsbooks in the state, not even the limited version at the casinos.
When did sports betting launch in Washington?
Sports betting launched in Washington in September 2021. In June 2021, the Washington State Gambling Commission approved 15 amended compacts. Then in July, Gov. Jay Inslee signed them as well. Meanwhile, the WSGC drafted sports betting rules with a goal of getting them approved in time for sportsbooks to open in September. That goal became a reality with the Department of the Interior’s sign-off on nine tribes’ state compact changes. The nine tribes approved for sports betting are:
- Cowlitz Tribe
- Lummi Tribe
- Puyallup Tribe
- Spokane Tribe
- Squaxin Island Tribe
- Stillaguamish Tribe
- Suquamish Tribe
- Tulalip Tribe
Seven other tribes of the 29 federally-recognized groups in Washington are still awaiting word on their compacts from the Department of the Interior.
- Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
- Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
- Kalispel Tribe
- Muckleshoot Tribe
- Shoalwater Bay Tribe
- Snoqualmie Tribe
- Swinomish Tribe
As noted, the other tribes did not amend their compacts and thus will not offer sports betting at their properties. The WSGC approved the new compacts, which then went to the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the US Department of the Interior for approval and publication in the Federal Register.
Which sportsbook apps are coming to WA?
If we’re going to be honest, none. When it comes to online sportsbooks, Washington has legalized them, but with a significant restriction. The tribes can offer online sports betting, but only on-site at their casinos. In other words, there is no statewide online sports betting like you might find in nearby Oregon (albeit via one app from the lottery). So while online sports betting is legal in Washington, it is almost misleading to say there are online sportsbooks in the state since they would be available only to patrons visiting the casinos.
Given such a restriction, it’s uncertain whether any of the tribes will bother adding an online option for those already visiting their retail sportsbooks. Mississippi sports betting is another state where casinos have the option to launch mobile sports betting, but only with geofenced online sportsbooks available at the casinos. While some of the casinos in Mississippi have retail sportsbooks, none has chosen to add online sports betting.
If any Washington tribal casinos do decide to add a geofenced option, it remains to be seen if any will work with established companies to power their online sportsbooks. It stands to reason that DraftKings and FanDuel would be less than enthusiastic about doing so, given that their daily fantasy sites are not allowed in the state.
It would also seem other sportsbooks like PointsBet and BetRivers might not be too eager to launch in Washington either, given the especially limited reach they could have. BetMGM, on the other hand, plans to have a geofenced, on-site sportsbook app available at a casino in South Dakota. That state has a similar on-site restriction to online betting. So there is a possibility, however slim.
How to bet on sports in Washington
Right now there is no option for betting, but there will soon be close to two dozen retail sportsbooks in Washington. All of these books will be located at tribal casinos. So where you can bet depends on where you are located. No sports betting partnerships have been announced with the tribes, however, so it remains to be seen whether they will work with a well-known US sportsbook available in other legal states or go it on their own.
To that end, we list the tribes and their casinos that do or could offer sports betting below:
|Tribe||Casino(s)||Location(s)||Sports Betting Launch Date|
|Colville Tribes||Coulee Dam Casino, Mill Bay Casino, 12 Tribes Resort Casino||Coulee Dam, Manson, Omak||TBA|
|Cowlitz Tribe||iLani Casino Resort||Ridgefield||TBA|
|Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe||7 Cedars Casino Hotel||Sequim||TBA|
|Kalispel Tribe||Kalispel Casino, Northern Quest Resort & Casino||Cusick, Airway Heights||TBA|
|Lummi Nation||Silver Reef Casino||Ferndale||TBA|
|Muckleshoot Tribe||Muckleshoot Casino, Muckleshoot Casino II||Auburn||TBA|
|Puyallup Tribe||BJ's Bingo and Gaming, Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino, Emerald Queen Casino Tacoma||Fife, Tacoma||TBA|
|Shoalwater Bay Tribe||Shoalwater Bay Casino||Tokeland||TBA|
|Snoqualmie Tribe||Snoqualmie Casino||Snoqualmie||September 9, 2021|
|Spokane Tribe||Chewelah Casino, Spokane Tribe Casino||Chewelah, Airway Heights||TBA|
|Squaxin Island Tribe||Little Creek Casino Resort||Shelton||TBA|
|Stillaguamish Tribe||Angel of the Winds Casino||Arlington||TBA|
|Suquamish Tribe||Clearwater Casino and Resort||Suquamish||TBA|
|Swinomish Tribe||Swinomish Casino and Lodge||Anacortes||TBA|
|Tulalip Tribes||Tulalip Resort Casino, Quil Ceda Creek Casino||Tulalip||TBA|
To bet online is a different story, as we noted above. Since there is technically no online sports betting in Washington, the best and closest place to log into an app and place a bet is Oregon. Washington’s southern neighbor has one statewide sportsbook app operated by the Oregon Lottery. With that one app called Scoreboard, Oregon online sports betting is a similarly limited form of betting that requires a drive. You just have to be 21 years old to place a bet in Oregon.
To the north, Washingtonians can travel to British Columbia, Canada, to wager on sports via the British Columbia Lottery Corp.’s online site, PlayNow. At the moment Canada has restrictions requiring sports bettors to place parlay-style wagers on two or more contests, but the country passed legislation in 2021 to allow single-game sports betting in Canada, as well.
Washington sports betting FAQ
Who can bet on sports in Washington?
Washington’s sports betting law sets the minimum age to wager on sports at 18 years old. That distinguishes Washington somewhat from many other states where one has to be at least 21 to bet on sports. Generally speaking, the legal gambling age in Washington is 18. However, the minimum is 21 if the establishment serves alcohol. Thus, some casinos have 18 as the minimum age for gambling and others 21.
Who will regulate Washington sports betting?
The new sports betting law charges the Washington State Gambling Commission with overseeing and regulating sports betting in the state. The WSGC thus sets the rules for sports betting, handles the issuing of licenses, and monitors sports betting activity to ensure its integrity.
Interestingly, given the tribal-only nature of the sports betting law, Washington will not impose a tax on the new sportsbooks. The state will, however, charge license fees and expect the tribes to direct revenue from sports betting toward charitable organizations much as they have done in the past with other gambling revenue.
Can you play daily fantasy sports in Washington?
Many states have explicitly legalized daily fantasy sports. Even more have no DFS-specific laws, yet permit daily fantasy sports sites to operate. Washington, meanwhile, is among the few states where daily fantasy sports contests are explicitly illegal.
Washington considers daily fantasy sports to be games of chance and therefore illegal gambling. As a result, DFS sites like DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo Sports Daily Fantasy and Fantasy Draft all prohibit players from Washington from entering their contests.
Can I play on offshore sportsbook sites in WA?
Those in Washington might find certain online sportsbooks located outside of the US that are willing to accept wagers from WA bettors, but you would be smart to avoid such offshore sites. These sites operate in other jurisdictions and thus do not abide by US or Washington law. If you are in Washington and encounter difficulties with your funds or suspect fraudulent activity on these sites, you have no legal recourse.
Even worse for bettors, the state actually classifies any sort of online gambling as a felony. Washington is different from other states in this regard, taking a much more severe approach toward anyone in the state trying to gamble online. All of which is to say, taking a chance and betting on sports on offshore sites while in Washington is not a wise move. Be patient. Retail sportsbooks are on the way.
What sports can I bet on in Washington?
Washington sports betting law allows betting on the following types of sporting events:
- A professional sport or athletic event.
- A collegiate sport or athletic event, except for contests involving institutions located within the state of Washington.
- An Olympic or international sports competition or event.
- An electronic sports or esports competition or event.
That means sportsbooks at the state’s tribal casinos are able to offer the usual menu of sports to bettors, and then some:
- Australian rules football
- Formula One
- Mixed martial arts
- Motor sports
- Olympic sports
Note the inclusion of eSports on the list. That isn’t the case in every state with legal sports betting. Meanwhile, unlike a few states, Washington does not permit betting on non-sports competitions like the Academy Awards. Additionally, Washington followed the path of a few other states by restricting bettors from wagering on college teams located in the state. That means no betting on the Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars or Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Bettors in Washington seeking nearby schools to wager on will have to choose contests involving teams in neighboring states. Some of these include:
- Oregon Ducks
- Oregon State Beavers
- Portland Pilots
- Portland State Vikings
- Boise State Broncos
- Idaho Vandals
- Idaho State Bengals
Of course, Washington is also home to a number of professional sports franchises, which have a strong fan following:
- Seattle Seahawks (NFL)
- Seattle Mariners (MLB)
- Seattle Kraken (NHL)
- Seattle Storm (WNBA)
- Seattle Sounders FC (MLS)
The state’s NFL franchise, the Seahawks, has a significant fan base, as does MLB’s Mariners. The Seattle Kraken, Washington’s brand-new NHL expansion franchise, ought to earn some attention as well among sports bettors in the state.
There has been no NBA team in Washington since the Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. However, the Portland Trail Blazers do have a following as the Pacific Northwest’s lone NBA franchise.
Betting on Washington sports teams
When betting on teams from Washington or elsewhere, the tribal casinos’ sportsbooks offer all of the standard sports bets:
- Moneyline bets — Wager on one side to win a contest outright.
- Spreads — Bets that take into account the point spread (either “getting” or “giving” points).
- Totals — Over/under bets on the combined total score of a game.
- Parlays — Bets that combine multiple wagers, all of which have to be correct for the bet to win.
- Round robins — Like parlay bets, but “partial” wins are possible if only some of your picks are correct.
- Teasers — Parlay bets in which the bettor “teases” or alters the totals or spreads (and the odds) for the wagers.
- Props — Bets on outcomes separate from the overall game result, such as on how many points a player will score.
- Futures — Bets on future events, like which team will win the Super Bowl or World Series.
History of sports betting in Washington
In early 2006 the state’s lawmakers explicitly prohibited online gambling in Washington. The law makes it a class C felony to gamble online, even on sites located outside of the state. The state included daily fantasy sports in the prohibition against online gambling. As such, Washington’s history with sports betting is quite short.
Starting in 2019, lawmakers began considering legalizing sports betting. Two bills during that session earned support, though neither advanced beyond committee hearings. However, still more bills arrived in 2020, including some that would let not just tribal casinos but card rooms and racetracks offer sports betting.
However, it was a tribal-only bill, HB 2638, backed by 20 House members, that moved forward. The bill authorized retail sportsbooks at the tribes’ casinos, plus mobile sports betting but only on-site. One sponsor, Rep. Jim Walsh, added an amendment to legalize sports betting immediately rather than require a voter referendum.
The bill received bipartisan support, passing the House 83-14. The Senate took it up and voted 34-15 in favor. On March 25, 2020, Inslee signed into law a substitute bill, ESHB 2638, that also enabled the amendment of tribal-state compacts. It took over a year for compacts to be renegotiated and approved, with 15 of the tribes doing so.
In truth, the legalization of Washington sportsbooks happened somewhat hurriedly. Normally a voter referendum would have been necessary to expand gambling. But extenuating circumstances caused by the pandemic led to lawmakers approving an emergency amendment to bypass that step, enabling Inslee to sign the bill into law without a referendum.
However, it took more than a year for the state to go from legalization to launch. The first legal sports bet in Washington history did not occur until September 2021. All’s well that ends well, though, and Washington is officially a sports betting state.