A federal judge is temporarily halting Maverick Gaming’s suit against the state of Washington. That action alleges the state is permitting a tribal gaming monopoly over regulated sports betting there.
Washington, DC District Court Judge Florence Pan, who was appointed by President Biden, granted the state a pause in the proceedings, with the intent of addressing Maverick’s request to drop the state from the suit. The state wants the litigation moved to federal court in Washington State.
Conversely, Maverick wants the state excluded from the suit, making it exclusively a federal issue. The gaming company’s rationale for that request centers around what it calls an “erroneous application” of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
Maverick, the dominant operator of cardrooms in the Pacific Northwest state, filed its suit in January, alleging IGRA is being used “inappropriately to give tribes exclusive rights to certain types of gaming, such as sports betting, that are not allowed in non-tribal gaming properties in Washington State.”
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,” said Maverick CEO Eric Persson at the time.
The company runs 19 cardrooms across its home state.
Foundation of Maverick Case
Roughly two years ago, Washington State passed regulated sports betting – legislation that was brought to the state floor under the auspices of it being an emergency.
Maverick later landed a ruling from Washington Supreme Court Judge Philip A. Talmadge, who declared there was no good reason for the bill to be considered an emergency. That’s because, if sports betting is controlled by tribal gaming entities, it won’t generate money for the state.
Maverick is represented by legal legend Ted Olson, who was the attorney for New Jersey in the now-famous 2018 Supreme Court ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Maverick sued the federal government, including the Department of the Interior, the state of Washington, including Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and the Washington Gaming Commission, among other entities.
The Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) takes issue with Maverick’s claims, saying the gaming operator’s litigation subverts tribal accords with the state.
Heart of the Matter
Maverick wants the 29 tribal compacts in Washington State struck down because it claims IGRA approves wagering activities if such businesses are made available to non-tribal entities.
It remains to be seen if Maverick will be successful in persuading a court to see things its way. What’s not up for debate is Washington’s status as a sports betting laggard.
Owing to the fact that the tribes rule sports wagering in the state and there’s no online betting available off tribal land, regulated sports betting is essentially a non-starter in the state.
States with single-operator schemes and those that don’t allow mobile betting are merely bit players, and aren’t accessing regulated sports betting’s growth potential to its fullest extent.
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