Gambling Commission, Cowlitz Indian Tribe reach tentative agreement on gaming compact amendment

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington State Gambling Commission has reached a tentative agreement with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe on an amendment to its Class III gaming compact. The proposed amendment includes new provisions that don't exist in other tribes' compacts.

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe is the first tribe in Washington to agree to several of the provisions in the proposed amendment, said Commission Chair Bud Sizemore. Those provisions include providing additional funding for the community and updating 25-year-old wager limits.

Below is a summary of the major changes in the proposed amendment. (Read full amendment)

  • Allows operation of 125 gaming tables in one gaming facility or a combination of two facilities.
  • Allows designated area for 25% of table games in operation to offer up to $1,000 wagers; and limited tables can offer up to $5,000 wagers after customer screening.
  • Allows operation of 3,000 player terminals in one gaming facility or a combination of two facilities.
  • Allows $30 wagers at 15% of the player terminals in operation.
  • Adds the use of near-field communication (NFC) devices, EMV or smart cards, or similar secure payment technologies, upon agreement.
  • Allows for extension of credit to qualified customers, based on screening criteria set out in the appendix, and documented in a memorandum of understanding.
  • Creates and maintains a responsible gambling program and provides additional funding for problem gambling treatment.
  • Provides additional funding for community impact and charitable contributions.
  • Updates tribal forums and adds relevant criminal laws.
  • Establishes a moratorium on additional changes until six months after Problem Gambling Task Force completes its report.
  • Adds a framework to review and approve a wide-area progressive connected to the Tribal Lottery System.

On behalf of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, we would like to thank the Washington State Gambling Commission, the Washington State Legislature and the Governor's Office for their continued support on not only this endeavor, but also the efforts that paved the way to ilani's opening, said Cowlitz Indian Tribe Chairman Philip Harju. ilani is now the economic engine that provides continued sustainability for the Tribe and surrounding communities. Since 2017, the Tribe and ilani have contributed over $13,000,000 in ordinance and compact fees, with a significant majority of the funds staying in Clark County, Washington. We greatly appreciate the partnership between our governmental bodies and look forward to future collaboration.

Next Steps:

  1. Formal notification about the proposed compact amendment will be conveyed to the Governor, Legislature and others.
  2. The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee and House Commerce and Gaming Committee will hold a joint public hearing on Sept. 29, 2020 at 4:15 p.m.
  3. The Gambling Commission will vote at its public meeting on Oct. 15, 2020 and decide whether or not to forward the proposed compact amendment to the Governor.
  4. If the Commission votes to forward the Tribe's amendment, it will be sent to the Tribal Chair for final consideration and signature.
  5. Once the Tribal Chair signs the amendment, it will be sent to the Governor for final consideration and signature.
  6. After obtaining the signatures of the Tribal Chair and the Governor, the Tribe will send the amendment to the Secretary of the United States Department of Interior for consideration, signature and publication in the Federal Register.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 provides that Indian tribes may conduct Class III gaming activities on Indian lands when the gaming is conducted in conformance with a tribal-state compact. RCW 9.46.360 provides that the Gambling Commission negotiate those compacts on behalf of the state. The Cowlitz Indian Tribe's tribal-state compact for Class III gaming was originally signed on June 16, 2014, and this is the second amendment. Public comments regarding this compact amendment may be submitted to