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News / Business / Clark County Business

ilani, 8 other Washington tribal casinos get OK for sports betting

By Will Campbell, Columbian Associate Editor
Published: September 3, 2021, 6:00am
3 Photos
The ilani casino is among the casinos in the Cowlitz Tribe to be allowed to host sports betting.
The ilani casino is among the casinos in the Cowlitz Tribe to be allowed to host sports betting. (The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

Nine tribal casinos in Washington, including ilani, could launch sports betting after receiving final approval this week from the U.S. Department of Interior, according to the Washington Indian Gaming Association.

The creation of Nevada-style sports books will be a major boost to the tribes’ economies, according to casino operators. It’s the first time that sports betting will be allowed in Washington.

“We are excited to add this next amenity to our award-winning entertainment destination, but more importantly, look forward to the positive impact that sports wagering revenues will have on the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and our surrounding communities,” wrote Kara Fox-LaRose, general manager and president of ilani, in a statement to The Columbian. “We anticipate launching sports wagering on site at ilani in the coming months and will share additional details as they are available.”

Rebecca George, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, said in a news release that the casinos will conduct sports betting in a fair and careful manner.

“It also ratifies the Legislature’s carefully considered decision to limit sports betting to tribal casinos, which will ensure that revenues from this activity will stay in our state and boost our local economy,” she said.

The Cowlitz Tribe, which owns ilani, and the other Washington tribes’ casinos — owned by the Tulalip, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Lummi, Puyallup, Squaxin and Spokane tribes — employ more than 37,000 people. In 2017 they generated more than $5.3 billion.

“That activity produced an estimated $722 million in state and local government revenue, plus an additional $352 million in one-time capital expenditures. Sports betting will now add to that economic benefit,” George said.

Seven other tribes are expected to be approved for sports betting soon, according to the news release.

ilani previously said that a construction project currently underway to expand the casino floor north beyond the food court will include a sports bar with a sports betting area.

A separate construction project is adding a hotel to the property, which is located along Interstate 5 north of Ridgefield.

This story was updated from the version that appeared in Friday’s print edition to include comments from ilani.