Maverick files Circuit appeal in Washington tribal gaming case

Ninth Circuit Court building
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Maverick Gaming has filed its appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its case challenging Washington state’s tribal exclusivity when it comes to Class III casino games and sports betting.

A lower court dismissed the case on the grounds that the Showalter Bay Tribe cannot be named in the case because it has tribal immunity. Presiding Judge David Estudillo also concluded that the federal government’s interests weren’t in alignment with the tribes. With the federal government incapable of standing in for the tribe and the tribe’s immunity, Estudillo saw no path forward and dismissed the case.

In the brief filed with the Ninth Circuit, Maverick challenged Estudillo’s conclusions on several fronts and reiterated its belief that the case can move forward.

Maverick brought the case under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which provides parties an opportunity to challenge how federal agencies, in this case, the Dept of the Interior, develop and issue regulations.

In its brief, Maverick decried Judge Estudillo’s ruling on the grounds that his stance would render all APA challenges related to tribes unreviewable.

“This stunning ruling that tribes must be joined as parties in all APA challenges to the Secretary’s approvals of tribal-state gaming compacts—and that those challenges must then be dismissed based on tribal immunity—would render such APA claims entirely unreviewable, a result at odds with common sense, fundamental principles of judicial review of agency actions, and the consistent practice of federal courts,” the brief stated.

The brief also took exception with the idea that the tribe is implicated in all aspects of its suit.

“Even if the federal defendants would be inadequate representatives for the Tribe, one of Maverick’s claims merely asks for an injunction preventing the state defendants from enforcing Washington’s criminal gaming laws against Maverick. That claim does not implicate the Tribe’s compact at all.”

It is now up to the defendants, which include Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and DOI Secretary Deb Haaland, to respond. The group filed for an extension earlier this week. The response brief is due on Sept. 1.