Maverick Gaming, LLC v. United States, et al.
Maverick Gaming is a gaming and entertainment company headquartered in Kirkland, Washington, employing a total of more than 4,000 people throughout the organization. 2,000+ people of the Maverick Gaming team are in Washington where Maverick Gaming is proud to be the largest private employer of Teamsters Local 117 in the state.
On January 11, 2022, we filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In summary, we are challenging an erroneous application of a federal law called the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that is being relied upon to give tribes exclusive rights to certain types of gaming that are not allowed in non-tribal commercial gaming properties in Washington. We support and respect IGRA and its aim of supporting tribal equality and sovereignty. But IGRA was intended to guarantee parity between tribal and non-tribal gaming. In Washington, however, the law is being used to insulate tribes against competition and has created tribal monopolies for certain types of gaming, contrary to IGRA’s own words.
Maverick Gaming, headquartered in Kirkland, WA, is striving to establish a first-class option for hospitality and entertainment everywhere it operates. Currently that includes facilities in Nevada, Colorado, and Washington.
Our Washington properties face a unique barrier when it comes to offerings for our customers because of Washington State’s erroneous application of a federal law called the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) passed by Congress in 1988. IGRA was crafted to prevent discrimination between tribal and non-tribal gaming and to ensure tribes were not kept from opportunity. It established a federal framework governing gaming on Indian lands that would guarantee parity between tribal and non-tribal gaming. Its aim was to give tribes the opportunity to engage in all forms of gaming that the state permits for non-tribal entities. Washington State’s application of IGRA, however, flips the law on its head by using it to establish tribal gaming monopolies, thereby contradicting both the statute’s text and its primary objective.
OPPORTUNITY IN WASHINGTON
Maverick Gaming was founded in 2017, and its growth reflects CEO Eric Persson’s deep passion for the gaming industry and a lifelong dream to build something representing a new approach to the industry and to community. Eric had a modest upbringing in Hoquiam on Washington’s coast and was the first member of his family to go to college. That pursuit of opportunity directly informs the values of Maverick Gaming everywhere it operates.
Since the very beginning in Washington State, Maverick Gaming was open to collaborating with the Teamsters, and partners with Teamsters 117 to provide family wage jobs that include benefits and a pension. Making the investment in Washington was a commitment from which the company has not waivered. Every dollar made is invested back into Maverick Gaming properties and employees.
Our facilities are local, neighborhood destinations where our customers swing by after work or for a night out to unwind, watch a game, or get a bite to eat. For those who like to play, we would like to offer entertainment options such as sports betting to enhance their experience and that also generates business that benefits our employees and local jurisdictions where we operate. Current application of IGRA in Washington protects tribal monopolies, limits competition, and restricts economic opportunity.
There are different categories of gambling – designated into classes that organize everything from Bingo to slot machines to Las Vegas-style card games. The terms of tribal gaming offerings are codified in compacts the State negotiates with each tribe. In Washington, we believe restrictions on gaming that give tribes exclusive opportunities not afforded to the non-tribal commercial gaming sector violate IGRA and the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. For this reason, we have filed a lawsuit, asking that Washington’s application of IGRA be struck down as contrary to the statute and the federal Constitution.
If we are successful, we would like to offer a safe, fun, responsible gaming experience to our guests that includes options like sports betting, roulette and craps that are currently held by tribal monopolies. Maverick Gaming’s entertainment experiences would not extend to problem gamblers, who would be subject to a self-exclusion policy that we have had great success implementing in our facilities in Washington State. Self-exclusion is just one way that Maverick Gaming serves as a partner in efforts to combat problem gambling.
We believe that the gaming monopolies that Washington has granted to certain tribes are illegal and unconstitutional. We are therefore asking a federal court to declare that those monopolies violate IGRA and the United States Constitution. If we prevail before the federal court, then the court will make clear that Washington’s tribal-monopoly arrangement is contrary to federal law and may not continue. We think that our interpretation of the law is correct and look forward to the court having the opportunity to scrutinize Washington’s gaming regime.
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About Maverick Gaming CEO Eric Persson
Eric is a native Washingtonian, raised in Hoquiam, and a proud member of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe. Hoquiam has a long and storied past as a logging town, surrounded by dense forests and transitioning over time in the boom-and-bust cycles of the lumber industry. But from a young age, Eric knew he wanted to work in casinos. The first in his family to go to college, Eric attended the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and completed five degrees, spending time away from his considerable class load interning for former U.S. Senator Richard H. Bryan (D-NV) and in the Crimes Against Women and Children Unit of the District Attorney’s office. He went on to graduate from Georgetown Law and returned to Nevada to begin building a career in the gaming industry.
Since then, Eric has held every position from blackjack dealer to general manager and every job in between. Together with co-owner Justin Beltram, former Vice President of Slots at Bellagio and Marina Bay Sands, Maverick’s founders have over 40 years of gaming experience spanning gaming markets around the world including the Las Vegas Strip (Venetian, Palazzo, Bellagio), Macau (Sands China Limited), Singapore (Marina Bay Sands), and many regional markets in North America.
Eric and his wife Ann have four children ranging in ages from two to 18 years old. His company is named for his oldest son, Maverick.
Personal Message from Eric Persson
When I took Maverick Gaming home to Washington, it was part of my lifelong dream to build a business from scratch. I want to be a partner and a builder of something new and cherished across my home state. I sought and welcomed organized labor, local Teamsters 117, to organize Maverick Gaming employees. Union jobs are family-wage jobs with benefits and a pension, with opportunities for advancement to the highest levels of our company. I want Maverick Gaming to have a reputation for the best jobs. On an almost parallel track to the establishment of Maverick Gaming’s business was the launch of our Maverick Cares program. In Washington, Maverick Cares has partnered with local businesses, community organizations and local governments and has given away more than 60,000 meals to families who needed a hand, as well as school supplies and other items for K-12 students in need. This is about partnership, reputation and following through on commitment. I take every aspect of our business very seriously. For me, it is intensely personal. I built Maverick Gaming for my family and I named it for my oldest son. Rest assured my single greatest motivation is that our actions will make my family proud everywhere we operate with his name on the door.