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It isn’t like Maverick Gaming CEO Eric Persson didn’t tell the world exactly what he was going to do if Washington state’s sports betting legislation HB 2638 were to pass – he told the press in no uncertain terms that he would file a lawsuit against federal and state officials:
I have the money, the time and the guts to fight it so let’s do it.
Well, spoiler alert, the bill did pass through the state legislature by an overwhelming majority in 2020, so now Persson is finally following through with his promise and the owner of almost half of the state’s 44 cardrooms has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of D.C.
It’s a tricky lawsuit that will no doubt be appealed back and forth since it takes on the compacts now in place between the state and 16 Washington native tribes, claiming that they go against the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) which allows “class III gaming by tribes in states that allow the same type of gaming for other operators.”
Persson’s argument essentially boils down to: “If the tribes get to do sports betting, then we outside operators also want to do sports betting, or else, according to the IGRA, nobody should get to do sports betting in the state of Washington.”
Due to the controversy surrounding this case, Persson expects it to eventually reach the highest judicial level in the U.S.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May 2018, each state has been allowed to decide if it wants to legalize, regulate, and tax a sports betting market for its residents, a process made more challenging in the states where gambling compacts with native tribes already existed.
Casino gaming and sportsbook betting are two different animals, and now outside operators like Persson’s Maverick Gaming and plenty of other sportsbooks want in on the action, something that the native tribes are understandably fighting back on.
This debate will most likely cause this case to be appealed back and forth until, according to Persson, it makes its way to the highest court in the land, saying:
I think ultimately this will probably go to the Supreme Court. Regardless of the outcome in the DC Circuit, the other side will appeal. Then what you’ll end up having regardless of the outcome is a split between circuits and, ultimately, I believe the Supreme Court will likely hear it and I think the Supreme Court will side with us.
It’s a litigious escalation that can only happen if the other side of the argument fights back the way they are expected to.
On the other side of this contentious issue is, among many groups, the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA), whose Executive Director Rebecca George released a statement to the press with a counterview:
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.
Keep checking back for the latest news and updates on this evolving story.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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