January 12, 2022 Tribal, Legal

Maverick Gaming contests Washington State’s tribal gaming monopoly in new trial

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Maverick owns and operates 19 cardrooms throughout the state.

Washington-based operator Maverick Gaming has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging Washington state’s use of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). 

The operator, through this litigation, is claiming that the act is being misused to give tribal gaming exclusive rights to specific segments of the industry, such as sports betting thus, preventing operators from functioning to their full potential in the Evergreen State. 

For context, Washington State has a long history of tribal gaming. Currently, commercial (non-tribal) cardrooms are restricted to offering 15 tables maximum for house-banked card games.

“We support and respect tribal equality and sovereignty,” said Eric Persson, CEO and Co-Founder of Maverick Gaming. 

“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 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act 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.”

Throughout this case, Maverick will be represented by Gibson Dunn law firm and a legal team led by Theodore B. Olson, Matthew D. McGilland, and Lochlan F. Shelfer. Olson holds previous experience in the gaming industry, successfully representing the state of New Jersey in 2018’s Murphy v. NCCA.

“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,” added Olson.

“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.”

The Washington Indian Gaming Association has promptly responded to these claims. 

Rebecca George, Executive Director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, noted: “Maverick Gaming’s newly announced federal lawsuit is a desperate attempt to overturn federal law, the will of the Washington State legislature, state and federal agency decisions, and the clearly expressed sentiments of the general public in Washington State. 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.

“Those compacts are fully in keeping with the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, as well as with state law, and have been repeatedly vetted at multiple levels of regulatory oversight. In short, this dangerous and destructive lawsuit is without merit, and were it to somehow be successful it would cause irreparable harm not only to historically marginalized tribal communities but also to the broader public, which opposes a massive expansion of gambling in their neighborhoods and communities. 

“We will be reviewing their complaint more carefully, but Washington State’s tribes stand united in opposing any attempt to undermine the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribal compacts, and what the tribes have worked so hard to build,” she concluded.

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