Court dismisses lawsuit challenging Washington Tribal Sports Gaming


Chief Justice David Estudillo of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington dismissed Maverick Gaming’s lawsuit that challenged state law that allows sports betting but limits bets to those placed in casinos owned by tribal nations.

Maverick Gaming filed a lawsuit last year against Governor Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and members of the Washington State Gambling Commission responsible for approving, enforcing and enforcing tribal gaming laws and covenants in Washington.

In October 2022, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe filed a motion to dismiss the case after stepping in as a defendant. The attorney general’s office, the federal government and 17 tribes supported his motion.

Maverick’s lawsuit sought to undermine tribal sovereignty by interfering with the right of tribal nations to self-determination, including the right to conduct legal gambling activities in tribal casinos. Federal and state laws support tribal gaming rights when tribes and states enter into agreements on how to conduct and regulate gaming operations.

Had Maverick’s arguments prevailed, Ferguson said, it could have consequences beyond the casino game, undermining established principles of tribal sovereignty and self-determination.

“This is a significant victory for tribal sovereignty,” Ferguson said. “Washington law strikes the right balance by allowing sports betting and limiting it to tribal casinos, where tribes have experience carefully regulating gambling where individuals must be physically present.”

In 2020, Washington passed a law that allowed the State Gambling Commission to enter into pacts with Washington tribes to allow sports betting within a tribal casino and its surrounding premises, using a virtual perimeter geo-fenced to block any outside access. Admission to Tribal casinos is restricted to Washingtonians 18 years of age and older.

Ferguson opposed SB 5212, a competing bill in the Legislature that would have opened up mobile sports betting to allow online betting anywhere in the state. Maverick Gaming supported that legislation.

Washington is one of over 30 states in the country with sports betting of some kind. A 2018 US Supreme Court ruling reversed an early 1990s federal ban on sports betting outside Nevada.

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