Washington State Tribal Gaming Compact Considers Introducing Electronic Table Games

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An electronic roulette game is seen at Snoqualmie Casino in Snoqualmie, Washington on May 15, 2023. Image taken from Snoqualmie Casino's official Facebook page.

A joint Senate and House legislative hearing for tentative gaming compacts with four additional Native American tribes will get underway this week followed by a vote on July 20th by the state’s Gambling Commission.

Discussions will also encompass the future of Washington sports betting within the state. This expansion would allow individuals in Evergreen State to engage in legal sports wagering activities, further diversifying the gambling landscape.

Electronic Table Games on the Menu

The Cowlitz, Nisqually, Spokane, and Suquamish tribes of Washington State have all agreed to adopt a proposed compact amendment paving the way for electronic games in their facilities. Currently, 22 of the 29 federally recognized tribes in the state operate a combined 28 gaming facilities.

The House Regulated Substances & Gaming Committees and the Senate Business, Financial Services, Gaming, & Trade will each hold hearings that will if approved, be advanced to the state’s gaming commission. If authorized, the commission will send the bill to the governor’s desk for his signature.

The tribal chair will also get an opportunity to review the legislation, and once signed, the bill would be forwarded to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior for final approval. The table games will not be available until the compacts are documented in the Federal Register.

Cowlitz Indian Tribe Ends Pact With Mohegan Tribe

The Mohegan Tribe, owners and operators of the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, agreed with the Cowlitz Tribe in 2017 to operate its ilani Casino Resort in Ridgefield, Washington. The pact ends in July 2024 at which time the Cowlitz will assume management of their facility.

Cowlitz Indian Tribe Chairwoman Patty Kinswa-Gaiser said in a statement, “After careful consideration, the Cowlitz Tribal Gaming Authority has recommended, and the Cowlitz Tribal Council has approved, a decision to begin a multi-step process of transitioning ilani from an enterprise managed by the Mohegan Tribe to a self-managed enterprise.”

Kinswa-Gaiser added, “We are forever grateful for the remarkable success and benefits this partnership has brought our tribal members and the Cowlitz community since ilani opened its doors in 2017. We raise our hands to the Mohegan Tribe and will continue the standard of excellence they brought to ilani.”

In a statement from Mohegan Gaming, Mohegan CEO Raymond Pineault said the tribe is “proud” of the help they offered the Cowlitz Tribe.

“We support the self-determination of any Tribal nation, and while we had hoped to continue our partnership as we thought we had more to offer the Cowlitz people, we are committed to aiding a smooth transition,” Pineault said.

ilani Sportsbook Announcement

Branching out on their own and away from third-party management is another example of the Cowlitz tribe’s growing confidence in their ability to operate successfully in the gaming industry. In October, Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of ilani announced the opening of its sportsbook located at the Stadium Sports Bar & Grill located inside the casino.

“At ilani, we are excited to introduce sports wagering as an amenity to meet the varied interests of our valued guests. With the level of anticipation and enthusiasm for this amenity, ilani has invested in a new addition featuring a sportsbook and a new dining experience, The Stadium Sports Bar & Grill.”

The sportsbook agreement is a partnership between the ilani Casino Resort and the Kambi Group which will utilize Kambi-powered technology in its sportsbook.