SEQUIM — The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will offer in-person sports betting at 7 Cedars Hotel and Casino by Aug. 1, just in time for the granddaddy of wagering arenas, the NFL season.
“We’re excited about it,” casino CEO Jerry Allen said last week.
“We are marching ahead.”
Sports betting was opened up to tribal casinos under House Bill 2638 (leg.wa.gov) in the 2019 legislative session, approved with the support of 24th District legislators Kevin Van De Wege, Steve Tharinger and Mike Chapman.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law in March 2020.
The Jamestown S’Klallam were among several tribes statewide that in 2021 negotiated with the state Gambling Commission (wsgc.wa.gov) to add sports wagering amendments to their existing compacts for Class III gaming.
The nearby Lower Elwha Kallam Tribe operates under Class II gaming regulations.
Bryan Newland, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, approved the tribe’s amendment Dec. 22 (bia.gov).
Allen said the tribe is closing in on a five-to-seven-year agreement with a publicly traded sports betting company to operate the sportsbook beginning Aug. 1. He hopes to have a signed contract by mid-April.
“We have an agreement in principle that we’re putting into writing,” Allen said, adding it’s the third company that 7 Cedars has negotiated with.
“It will set all the odds and lines,” he said.
“We really want this open by August to get a running start at the NFL season, the biggest part of all in the sports betting business.
“The NFL is the kingpin. It wears the crown, so to speak.”
The 7 Cedars Rainforest Bar and an adjacent performance stage will be removed to make room for Cedars Sports, the casino’s new sportsbook.
“We’ve ordered sportsbook-style theater seating as a complement to the stage area,” Allen said.
The tribe is spending $750,000-$850,000 to expand its wagering capacity, including $500,000 on two 21- and 22-foot TV screens the tribe has ordered.
Six $6,000-$8,000 self-service sports betting kiosks will be available to bettors in the casino and hotel.
“You don’t have to walk up to a person, you can walk up to a kiosk,” Allen said, adding it will ease congestion at Cedars Sports and make it easier to wager bets throughout the casino and hotel.
The kiosks were made popular at horse race tracks, although betting on horse racing will not be offered at the casino, he said.
Allen said he’s bringing back former 7 Cedars Casino Manager Bill Matsko to fill the position of sportsbook manager to drum up interest among casino clientele and “manage the atmosphere” of Cedars Sports.
Allen said Matsko is a perfect fit for the job, comparing Matsko’s role to Brent Musburger’s.
The famed sportscaster is the play-by-play voice for the Las Vegas Raiders football team and is host and managing editor at Vegas Stats and Information Network.
Matsko worked in the Las Vegas casino industry before coming to 7 Cedars in the original management team in 1995, leaving in 2015.
Allen said he’s coming back to Sequim after most recently working as a pit manager at the Morongo Tribe’s Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa west of Palm Springs, Calif.
“He’ll be a large presence in lot of media campaigns for sure,” Allen said.
“His personality and how to tout sports is really important.
“This is the sizzle around the steak.
“You’ve got to make it sizzle for someone to come to 7 Cedars to make a bet.
Sports wagering is allowed on professional sports and events except for minor league events, the Olympics, international sports, and in-state collegiate events.
“No gaming operation may accept any sports wager on a collegiate sport event or collegiate athletic event offered or sponsored by a Washington collegiate institution,” according to the state Gambling Commission.
Individuals who are under 18 years old cannot place sports bets.
The casino must use a geofence — a geographic boundary defined by GPS or RFID technology — to ensure that mobile sports wagering occurs only within the casino’s premises. A player account is required to engage in mobile wagering.
“The Gaming Operation will implement rules and procedures to terminate all accounts of any patron who knowingly and intentionally establishes or seeks to establish multiple active accounts, whether directly or by use of another person as a proxy,” according to tribal compact amendment.
“Appropriate” sports wagering limits will be set by the casino, according to the amendment.
“We’ll probably take a $50,000 ceiling is my gut feeling,” Allen said Friday.
Allen said sports betting is offered at a half-dozen tribal gaming operations in Washington including Muckleshoot Casino Resort in Auburn, Emerald Queen Hotel and Casino in Fife and Snoqualmie Casino in King County, the first to offer sports wagering under the new state law, he said.
Sports wagering has been added to 19 tribal compacts among the state’s 29 tribes, Gambling Commission spokesperson Kevin McCarty said Friday in an email.
“Not all have opened sportsbooks,” he said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at email@example.com.