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Sports betting at Washington tribal casinos expected to become a $94 million industry in five years

A WSU study released Tuesday found that about 14% of Washington residents are open to spending money betting on their favorite sports team.

PULLMAN, Wash. — The rapid growth of sport betting at tribal casinos around Washington is expected to become a $94 million business in the next five years, as the state is now open for sports betting, according to a Washington State University (WSU) study.

A WSU study released Tuesday found nearly 14% of Washington residents are likely to participate in Washington’s emerging sports betting industry.

“When you think about recreational activities, participation from 14% of the population is significant,” Kahlil Philander, the study’s principal investigator and assistant professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management at WSU Everett, said in a news release.

The study says the interest in sports betting mirrored that of online gambling across the United States.

“Sports organizations and media companies like ESPN and Fox have developed their own national betting brands,” Philander said. “Meanwhile, typical gambling brands like DraftKings and BetMGM are all over social media and national television advertising. Washington is just starting to learn what the industry will look like in this state.”

According to the gambling commission, Washington state was the first state to enact a new sports wagering law in 2020. People can now legally bet at their favorite sports team in certain Washington tribal casinos. Wagers must be placed in-person through a betting window, kiosk or onsite mobile app at the casino, while online betting from remote locations is not allowed.

In Washington State, nine tribes are approved to practice sports betting. Kalispel Tribe of Indians, which runs the Northern Quest Casino, received approval in September to allow sports wagering on tribal grounds. Other casinos like the Snoqualmie Tribe began offering sports betting in September 2021, and other tribes are expected to follow.  

According to the WSU study, if online sports betting from remote locations became legal in Washington in the future, the industry would more than triple, generating about $322 million in annual revenue.

Philander said in addition to the $94 million in annual revenue, sports wagering at tribal casinos will lead to 273 direct jobs.