The biggest non-tribal gambling operator in the US filed a lawsuit in an attempt to overturn the monopoly on sports betting that was granted to the 29 Native American tribes in Washington State by the local Legislature.
The legal action filed by Maverick Gaming’s attorneys in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, claims that the 2019 law that allowed sports betting in Washington tribal casinos only came as a wrongful application of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
On January 11th, Maverick Gaming filed a federal lawsuit claiming that a “discriminatory tribal gaming monopoly” not only over sports betting but also other types of gambling, including craps and roulette, was given to Native American casinos by Washington state officials. The company currently operates 19 of 44 licensed card rooms in Washington State. In recent years, the gambling operator and its owner Eric Persson have lobbied for expansion of sports betting services beyond tribal casinos but their aspirations have been unsuccessful so far.
Sports betting was allowed in Washington-based tribal casinos only in March 2020. The measure officially came into effect more than a year later, in September 2021 on a case-by-case basis.
Maverick Gaming, which used to be based in Nevada but moved operations to Kirkland, had tried to get the state Legislature’s favor to offer sports betting services in its card rooms but the proposed bill never succeeded to get to the voting floor. A similar attempt was rejected only a week ago before even a hearing was planned.
Maverick Gaming Willing to Offer Sports Betting and Other Forms of Gambling in Washington Card Rooms
Washington state made amendments to its agreements with 15 Native American tribes running a variety of gambling venues. Under its amended compact, the Snoqualmie Casino started offering sports betting services in September, right before the beginning of the National Football League (NFL) season. The sportsbooks of the Kalispel and Stillaguamish tribes started operation soon after that.
The newly-filed legal action asks the court to make the aforementioned tribal agreements that allowed sports betting to be offered only in tribal gambling venues illegal and to effectively put on hold the new form of gambling on the territory of the state. According to the allegations of the Maverick Gaming’s lawsuit, the Governor of Washinton Jay Inslee, the US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and former and current members of the state’s gambling regulator are wrongfully applying the IGRA by discriminating based on ancestry and race. The lawsuit claims that the aforementioned officials are trying to prevent outside gambling rivalry to Native American tribes in the sports betting sector.
The gambling operator’s owner revealed in an interview that he will continue to seek legislative permission to offer sports betting and other forms of gambling in the card rooms of Maverick Gaming. Mr. Persson, however, believes that the lawsuit is necessary because, in his opinion, a federal piece of legislation (IGRA) is being wrongly applied by the Washington Legislature that is creating an illegal monopoly system in favor of the local Native Indian tribes.