History of Gambling in Washington – Part Two

Last month, we began a recap of the history of gambling in Washington State. Today, we resume with a focus on the opening of Reservation casinos.

The Puyallup Reservation opened a casino in 1976, but the federal government shut it down two years later. In 1982, the State Lottery was authorized, and the next year the Puyallup, Muckleshoot, and Tulalip reservations began offering tribal bingo games, while Lummi opened blackjack operations.

Washington State allowed off-track betting on horse racing in 1987, passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, and created the Washington State Council on Problem Gambling in 1990.

When Seattle authorized pull tabs and punchboards in 1991, the Lummi tribe opened a casino. The Tulalip Tribe opened a casino in 1992, the Nooksack Tribe opened one in 1993, and the Swinomish, Colville, and Spokane Tribes opened theirs in 1994. Six more tribes opened casinos in 1995: Jamestown S’Klallam, Muckleshoot, Chehalis, Squaxin Island, Upper Skagit, Suquamish, and an extension of the Lummi Tribe casino. However, the following year, nineteen tribes were unable to get authorization to operate slot machines when Initiative 671 failed to pass in November elections. In 1998, a 12-tribe compact allowed them to operate slot machines under a cap agreement of 1,500 machines per tribe.

In 2006, the Washington State Constitution was amended to prohibit online gambling and online poker in all forms. The same year, the Gambling Commission amended card room betting limits to allow $200 limits at all house-banked card tables. Game wager limits were again increased in 2008, to $300 for single or bonus wagers in odds-based limits. But in 2009, the limit for all poker wagers was reduced to $40. A pilot program to authorize wager limits of $100 on Texas Hold ‘em was approved in 2010. In 2012, those limits were officially increased from $40 to $100 as a response to petition.

This year, House Bill 1114 was introduced to legalize online poker, but it did not receive enough support to achieve a hearing.

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