Maverick Gaming Washington Sports Betting Lawsuit Dismissed?

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on February 22, 2023
Maverick Gaming Washington Sports Betting Lawsuit Dismissed?

Chief Judge David Estudillo of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington dismissed Maverick Gaming‘s Washington sports betting lawsuit.

The lawsuit challenged Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in Washington. IGRA allows sports betting in Washington, with limited bets at casinos owned by tribal nations.

Maverick Gaming accused state and federal officials of giving a “discriminatory tribal gaming monopoly” over sports betting. It implies that the IGRA is misused to grant tribes exclusive rights to certain types of gaming.

The company asked the district court to invalidate Washington’s revolutionary 2020 sports gambling law.

Maverick lawsuit claims tribal monopoly over Washington sports betting

A year ago, Maverick filed a lawsuit against Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, as well as the Washington State Gambling Commission members. That also included ex offici
o commissioners:

  • Sens. Steve Conway
  • D-Tacoma
  • Jeff Holy
  • R-Cheney
  • And Reps. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, and Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver

These state officials approve, enforce, and implement tribal gaming compacts and laws in Washington.

The Attorney General’s Office, the federal government and 17 tribes supported the tribe’s motion. One of those tribes was the Shoalwater Bay tribe. They filed a motion in October to dismiss the case after intervening as a defendant for that purpose.

Lawsuit could have had major consequences on tribal gaming

US federal and state law support tribal gaming rights. Especially when tribes and states team up to conduct and regulate gaming operations. Tribes in Washington state have long been operating gaming facilities following such gaming contracts.

Ferguson, one of the named defendants, emphasized that Maverick’s lawsuit could have had consequences beyond casino gaming. If Maverick’s arguments prevailed, it would undermine long-established principles of tribal sovereignty and self-determination.

He said: “This is a significant victory for tribal sovereignty. Washington law strikes the right balance by permitting sports betting and confining it to tribal casinos, where tribes have experience carefully regulating gambling where individuals must be physically present.”

Rebecca George, an Executive Director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA), agreed. As reported by Union Bulletin, she said:

“This is an important legal victory. Maverick’s lawsuit was a direct attack on the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which over the last three decades has been a pathway for tribes to regain their self-reliance by generating revenue to lift tribal communities out of poverty and despair.

It is also a strong ratification of the collaborative and productive partnership that Washington’s tribes have developed with state and federal officials to create a safe, limited and well-regulated system of gaming in Washington State.”

Gaming helps tribal community

According to Washington’s Attorney General’s office, gaming revenue has helped raise many tribal members above the poverty line.

WIGA also promotes tribal gambling benefits, arguing that such betting differs from betting in commercial venues. It claims that revenues from gambling in tribal casinos support community self-government programs in housing, medical care and education.

Gaming also provided substantial employment opportunities for tribal members.

Washington has allowed tribal gaming since 2020

In 2020, Washington passed a law that allowed the state Gambling Commission to enter compacts with Washington tribes. The law permitted sports betting within a tribal casino and its surrounding premises. The premises use a geofenced virtual perimeter to block any outside access.

Only eligible players, 18+, are allowed to enter Washington tribal casinos.

Ferguson opposed SB 5212, a competing bill in the Legislature. That bill would have opened online sports betting allowing players to bet anywhere in the state. At the time, Maverick Gaming supported that legislation. The company owns and operates 22 card rooms throughout Washington.

Photo by Graphic by Playin USA
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for Playin USA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario?s online gambling industry for PlayCanada.com. Vojvodic holds a master?s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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