Maverick Gaming files lawsuit over Indian Gaming Regulatory Act application

Maverick Gaming has filed litigation in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to contest an application of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Image source: Shutterstock

Maverick Gaming, a gaming and entertainment company headquartered in Kirkland, Washington, 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).

In a statement on its website, the firm has said that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act 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”.

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 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.”

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

George said: “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.”

In January last year, Maverick gave its backing to a rival bill that sought to overturn the state’s strategy of keeping sports betting solely within tribal boundaries. The firm, which already contributes approximately $13m annually to the local communities where it operates, believes there is room for all licensed, regulated gaming operations to be successful, both in tribal locations and commercial cardrooms.