Sports betting legalization presents new opportunities for local casinos

AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. — Everywhere you look, you see ads for sports betting, but in Washington, it’s against the law.  You can’t even legally bet on the NCAA Tournament.

That’s about to change – and, the change will start in Spokane County.  Already, casinos like northern quest are planning for the future as they prepare for the demand this form of gaming will bring to their casino.

“We started to hear it constantly so it’s nice to provide an offering for our guests that will meet that demand, we know it’s out there,” said Kevin Zenishek the Executive Director of Casino Operations at Northern Quest Casino and Resort.

For years now, Northern Quest has anticipated the day when sports betting would be legal in Washington.  Now, they have unveiled plans to convert their Turf Club Lounge into the Turf Club Sportsbook.

“That’s going to allow up to five gaming or sports betting stations….and we’ll also have the ability to bet through a kiosk as well,” said Zenishek.

Last week, the Washington Gambling Commission reached a tentative agreement that would authorize sports betting on a limited basis at tribal casinos in the state.  While this is welcome news to sports fans, there will be some major limitations.  For one, betting on college teams in the state of Washington is not allowed.

“The legislature put in prohibitions, so we have to uphold those prohibitions of both compact and state law…and state college are prohibited. So you cant bet on Gonzaga, you can’t bet on University of Washington,” said Brian Considine the Legal and Legislative Manager for the Gambling Commission.

Betting through mobile apps will be allowed, but only while on the casino property.  The casino will be allowed to partner with sports betting organizations like FanDuel or Draft Kings.  Northern Quest has also been preparing for the newest method of gambling.

“We do plan to partner with an outside vendor for sports betting environment. We’re currently getting ready to complete that deal,” said Zenishek.

A hearing on this matter will be held on Wednesday before the Gambling Commission votes on the amendment June 10th.  It will then be off for federal approval.  The hope is to have the ability to bet on games by the time football season starts in September.