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First sports gambling spot in Spokane area opens at Northern Quest

Northern Quest's Turf Club Sports Book opened this weekend, becoming the first place for legal sports betting outside of video horse racing in the county.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — The construction is done, and the Turf Club Sports Book is open at Northern Quest Casino, making it the first place in Spokane for legal sports betting outside of video horse race wagers.

So far, the casino has had positive feedback from its customers.

"We opened up for a VIP event Friday night and to the public Saturday morning, and so far, the response has been great," said Kevin Zenishek, the Executive Director of Casino Operations for Northern Quest.

For the casino, the sports book has been years in the making. After years of lobbying for the legalization of sports betting in Washington state, it was legalized in March of 2020. For Northern Quest, the pandemic put a pause on its plans to start work on the sports book.

The casinos customers were also excited for the sports book to finally open its doors.

"A lot of people were really excited to see this open," said Zenishek. "We got stopped almost daily. 'When's it going to open? When's it going to open?' We're finally up and running. A lot of happy folks out here."

Customers have kept the sports book busy so far. The opening comes in the middle of many major sports seasons in the United States, including the college basketball and football seasons, and the regular seasons for the NFL, NBA and NHL. People can also bet on sports such as martial arts, but state regulations ban gambling on games involving in-state colleges and amateur teams, such as the Washington State University Cougars, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the Spokane Chiefs or the Spokane Indians.

Placing a bet is easy, according to those working the counter at the Turf Club.

"It takes about 30 seconds to place a bet. If you want a lot of money to place on it, it might take a little longer because you had to get supervisory approval," said Travis Patrick, an attendant at the Turf Club Sports Book ."Yeah, pretty quick process."

There is seating in front of big screen TVs inside Turf Club for people to track the games they are betting on. A bar offers drinks, and people are allowed to bring in food from restaurants around the casino. There are also kiosks on the gambling floor and inside the casino's sports restaurant Epic for people to place bets on the go.

Northern Quest is working on a mobile app that will allow people to place bets on their phones if they are on Northern Quest property, according to Zenishek.

At the end of the day, Northern Quest sees the opening of Turf Club as an accomplishment and a relief.

"A lot of planning and a lot of process to get through to get to this point, and it's done," Zenishek said. "There's definitely a relief."

The sports book also brought 20 new jobs to the casino, Zenishek said.