- BetMGM has launched a retail sportsbook at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington.
- Eventually, BetMGM will operate a retail sports betting presence at both Emerald Queen Casino locations in Fife and Tacoma, Washington.
- At this point, the tribal gaming properties are the only entities allowed to offer retail sports betting in Washington State. Currently, mobile betting is not permitted outside of a retail sportsbook.
When we reported on BetMGM’s partnership announcement with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians to operate the retail sportsbooks at the two Emerald Queen Casino locations in Washington State, we spent considerable time lamenting the unfortunate regulatory framework that has been foisted on the residents of the Emerald State. By now, you no doubt know the drill–Washington State bureaucrats working hard to juice in their political cronies and financial benefactors, no mobile betting and a watered down sports betting ecosystem in a market that could be doing big business. Here’s what I said about it at the time:
At some point, Washington State could be a killer sports betting market. As of 2021, it is the 13th largest US state by population with 7,796,941 residents and has experienced a growth rate of 15.63% since 2010. This makes it the largest sports betting legal state west of the Mississippi (albeit by a couple hundred thousand residents over Arizona, the 14th largest state by population).
Unfortunately, ‘biggest’ in the west does not mean ‘best’ in this case. Far from it, as Washington has made many of the same mistakes (wittingly or not) as far too many other jurisdictions. Most glaring is the lack of mobile betting. If we’re going to be technically correct, there *is* mobile betting in Washington–the catch is that it’s all geofenced to the relevant retail establishment. In other words, the only place you can place mobile bets in Washington State is the only place you don’t *need* to place mobile bets: at a retail sportsbook. No mobile betting in a state is a ‘tell’ that they’re really not serious about maximizing the economic upside of sports betting. Just do the math–in Colorado, for example, 98% of bets in August were made online.
That’s not a surprise here since Washington made the other big mistake seen elsewhere–focusing exclusively on juicing in their political cronies and/or financial benefactors and not at all on creating a vibrant sports betting ecosystem. In Washington, the tribal gaming industry was gifted with sports betting despite the fact that there are several dozen commercial card rooms in the state. These businesses have endured despite constantly getting the short end of the stick–for example, they’re not allowed to operate slot machines, video lottery terminals, video pull tabs and (for now at least) sports betting. There’s a chance that this will change in the near future as the industry and some politicians are trying to make it happen. At some point, Washington State will also come into the 21st Century and get mobile betting as well.
Sports betting has the potential to be a massive industry in Washington but the state is more concerned with making sure that only politically connected entities benefit. This could be the ‘fatal flaw’ in the US sports betting market–states need to realize that sports betting is an industry, not an entitlement program for political benefactors. In the meantime, the retail sports betting business should be semi-lucrative due to the nature of gaming in Washington State. Most of the tribal gaming properties are near major population centers such as the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort where FanDuel is opening a retail sportsbook. They’re about an hour to an hour an a half from Seattle depending on whether you take the ferry across Puget Sound or go around it. That–along with the potential that Washington represents should they get their regulatory act together–makes it completely understandable why companies want to set up shop there. Big picture–the resources that the major gaming companies can bring to the state should help shape Washington sports betting into something decent. Kind of sad that this is how low the bar is set but there we are.
BetMGM has just opened their new retail sportsbook at the Emerald Queen Casino (EQC) in Tacoma, Washington. The setup is definitely impressive with a 500-square-foot video wall, more than a dozen 86″ high-definition televisions, 70 DreamSeat leather armchairs, six ticket windows and 30 betting kiosks. Based on what BetMGM has said so far, they’ll eventually be opening a retail sportsbook at the EQC in Fife, Washington. For now, the Fife property will have kiosk betting starting on December 27. Mobile in-game wagering will begin in early 2022.
BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt is happy to extend his company’s brand to another state:
“We’re thrilled to expand BetMGM’s presence in Washington, a significant market filled with some of the country’s most passionate sports fans. Together with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and our partners at Emerald Queen Casino, we’re proud to welcome guests to the state’s premier sportsbook.”
The Puyallup Tribal Council, the Tribe’s governing body had this statement about the launch of the EQC sportsbook:
“EQC has really gone above and beyond in making BetMGM Sportsbook @ EQC the premier destination for sports betting in the Northwest. We’ve got the biggest video screen in the country, great seating, and an opening day that brought sports legends plus a live broadcast and a live game. We are striving to offer the best sports betting experience around at the Betting Capital of the Northwest!”
Frank Wright Jr., EQC General Manager, also had these comments about the impressive technology that powers the BetMGM Sportsbook:
“You have to see our massive video wall to believe it. It’s just one component of the immersive experience that sets BetMGM Sportsbook @ EQC apart from every other sportsbook in the Pacific Northwest.”
The BetMGM sportsbook at EQC looks very impressive based on the photos I’ve seen. It’s hard to get too excited about a launch in a jurisdiction that is so determined to ‘kill the proverbial golden goose’ at the behest of the cronies and financial backers of the political class. Every day, I get some press release or another where a financial analyst or startup CEO is crowing about the massive revenue potential of the US sports betting market. As long as states are allowed by their citizens to get away with the type of regulatory framework that exists in Washington it’ll never happen. On paper, sports betting is now legal in approximately half of the US. In reality, only a handful have a sports betting ecosystem better than existed prior to the fall of PASPA. Bettors in the rest of the states are in the same boat they’ve always been in with the only viable sports betting options being found offshore.
Like I said before, I don’t blame companies like BetMGM for getting market access where they can. Big picture, however, it is crucial that the major gaming companies start working to shape sports betting regulations in the many states that have completely screwed it up along with the new states that jump on the bandwagon. You can make a compelling case that based on fiduciary responsibility to shareholders the big gaming corporations need to work to establish regulatory frameworks in which a well run sportsbook can profit–not just gain a nebulous market share while they burn money on advertising and player acquisition bonuses.