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WA sports betting market to reach $93.8m at maturity, WSU study claims


A study commissioned by the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) revealed the state’s tribal sports betting market could be valued at $93.8m in the next five years.

House Bill 2638, which was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee in March 2020, legalized in-person sports betting at Class III gaming facilities in Washington state. Nine tribal casinos were then given the go-ahead to offer betting in September, after amendments to their gaming compacts with the state were ratified.

The terms of HB2638 stated the WSGC had to conduct an investigation into the market’s future prospects by December 1 2021, with the project outsourced to Washington State University (WSU).

The study was presented on Tuesday (November 16) by Dr. Kahlil S. Philander, assistant professor at the School of Hospitality Business Management, during a WSGC meeting.

It focused on three main aspects of retail sports betting distribution, and the potential revenue from each framework.

The aspects focused on casinos with no online sports betting, the current model; online betting licenses for tribal operators that need in-person registration but allow statewide wagering; and online betting licenses for tribal casinos that allow remote registration, and allow wagering statewide.

After considering how often participants bet on sports in the last 12 months, and in what capacity they were placing their wagers, WSU forecasted that the retail tribal betting market was on track to hit $93.8m.

However, the study predicted potential changes when considering in-person and remote registration.

Should in-person registration be required, the study stated that it would reduce the value of the retail market to $59.5m, but create an online sports betting market valued at $132.0m when it reaches maturity.

Meanwhile, remote registration would cut the retail market’s value to $42.2m, but lead to the online market’s value jumping to $279.3m.

The study also considered the broader economic impact of implementing sports betting, and which jobs would be created under it.

For retail-only betting, an estimate of 390 jobs will be created. In terms of in-person registration, the report calculated 609 jobs, while sports betting with remote registration could generate 1,182 jobs.

Surveys were conducted from June to August 2021, with 517 Washington state residents polled.

Participants were also asked two questions in relation to the location of their bets; what entity was taking their wagers, and whether they were in or out of state lines at the time.

A total of 95% of respondents answered ‘never/less than once a month’ to how often they bet.

Meanwhile 5% of the respondents said they had wagered at least once per month. Out of this number, 50.3%  tended to bet through office pools. Sportsbooks were the preferred option for 27.1% of respondents, and mobile apps were favoured by 9.0%. Bets placed on websites made up 8.3% of the responses, while wagers placed via local bookies totaled 5.3%.

In total, 34% of respondents said they bet within state lines, while 11% did so out-of-state, and 55%
wagered at both in-state and out-of-state outlets.