Maverick files lawsuit over tribal gaming monopoly in Washington

Maverick Gaming suggests the IGRA is being used inappropriately to give tribes exclusive rights to certain types of gaming.
Maverick Gaming suggests the IGRA is being used inappropriately to give tribes exclusive rights to certain types of gaming.

Maverick Gaming has filed a lawsuit challenging the application of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in Washington.

US.- Gaming and entertainment business Maverick Gaming has filed litigation in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to contest an application of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

The company, headquartered in Kirkland, Washington, said it is an “erroneous” application of the IGRA, granting tribes in the state exclusive rights to certain types of gaming.

CEO and co-founder Eric Persson said: “We support and respect tribal equality and sovereignty. Our decision to file this litigation is founded on the same values that we have brought to all of our efforts at Maverick Gaming.

“We are proud of our union-led workforce in Washington that offers family-wage jobs with benefits and a pension, helping create access to economic opportunity in communities across my home state.

“That access to economic opportunity relies on a fair application of laws such as the IGRA and I am hopeful that this lawsuit will resolve successfully so that tribal casinos and smaller commercial cardrooms like those owned by Maverick Gaming may offer the same types of legal gaming, such as sports betting, just like commercial cardrooms and tribal casinos already offer in other states.”

Maverick Gaming is being represented by Gibson Dunn, retaining a legal team led by Theodore Olson, Matthew McGill and Lochlan Shelfer.

Olson, a partner at Gibson Dunn, stated: “The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was intended to guarantee parity between tribal and non-tribal gaming, but unfortunately Washington State is misusing IGRA to instead create tribal monopolies on certain types of gaming, such as sports betting. 

“Contrary to IGRA’s own words, the law is being used to insulate tribes in Washington State from competition that exists in many other states with legal gaming marketplaces. We look forward to resolving this matter so that IGRA’s intent and wording are reflected in Washington State’s regulated gaming marketplace for tribal and commercial businesses.”

Rebecca George, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA), has issued a statement in response to the federal lawsuit filed by Maverick Gaming.

She described the lawsuit as “a desperate attempt” to change the law and the will of the Washington State legislature, as well as the decision of the general public.

The statement read: “It would severely undermine the well regulated and safe system of limited gaming that has been established in Washington State over three decades of carefully negotiated compacts between the State of Washington and Native American tribes.”

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

However, this was not extended to non-tribal venues such as commercial cardrooms in the state, with a bill seeking to do so having not progressed into law.

Cardrooms are restricted to offering up to 15 tables for house-banked card games but are not able to offer any form of sports betting. There are currently 44 licensed cardrooms in Washington State, 19 of which are operated by Maverick.

See also: Washington tribal sports betting could generate $94m in five years

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