(The Center Square) – Washington state is facing a federal lawsuit over its decision last year to allow for sports betting at Native American casinos.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by Maverick Gaming LLC. The company, based in Kirkland, operates 19 of the 44 licensed card rooms in the state.
According to an analysis of the suit by Legal Sports Report, Maverick’s lawsuit contends that the tribal sports betting compacts create a monopoly for Native American casinos and violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
The IGRA says that gaming allowed on tribal property is allowed only if the state permits the same activity by non-tribal entities.
The suit also says Washington is violating Maverick’s Fifth Amendment equal protection rights by discriminating on the basis of race and ancestry.
The same federal court late last year struck down a similar compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe, saying it violates the IGRA.
“We support and respect tribal equality and sovereignty,” Maverick CEO Eric Persson said in a statement. “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 that 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 operated by Maverick Gaming may offer the same types of legal gambling.”
Persson told KING5-TV that he estimates Maverick could double its revenue and generate $50 million a year in tax revenue if it were allowed to offer sports gambling.
The state does not collect any taxes on revenue generated by tribal gaming, although estimates show that could be as high as $140 million yearly.
Rebecca George, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, came out against the suit in a prepared statement.
“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,” she said. “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.”