Posted on: July 26, 2023, 10:38h.
Last updated on: July 26, 2023, 12:14h.
The Washington State Gambling Commission this week dealt a winning hand to the state’s commercial cardrooms by agreeing to allow higher bets.
Maverick Gaming is a Washington-based gaming operator headquartered in Kirkland. The company owns and operates 23 of the 38 commercial cardrooms in the state.
Maverick last year petitioned state gaming regulators to allow the company’s cardrooms to accept larger bets. Following a heated conversation last Thursday, the Gambling Commission voted 3-2 in favor of increasing the maximum permitted wager for a commercial cardroom from $300 to $400.
Maverick had asked for a $200 increase to $500. The company says higher max bets will allow the company’s cardrooms to better compete with tribal casinos where bets of more than $500 per hand are allowed.
The $400 per hand limit will go into effect on August 19, which is 30 days from the Gambling Commission’s ruling.
Washington state lawmakers legalized commercial cardrooms and house-banked table games like roulette and blackjack in 1997, but the commercial gaming statute was supposed to be simply a revenue-generating stream to help small businesses like restaurants and bars.
Billed as “social gaming,” the cardroom law initially came with a $25 per hand betting limit. The threshold has been increased only three times since 1997, with the last increase coming in 2009 when the bet limits were raised to $300.
The Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) opposed the cardroom limit increase. The organization claimed the increase further goes against the original intent of the social gaming statute.
If anything, the smaller ‘mom and pop’ establishments have been squeezed from the market as the remaining operators consolidate, acquire market share from these smaller establishments, and brand themselves as ‘casinos.’ This seems a far cry from the Legislature’s original intent,” a letter on the issue from WIGA read.
State Gambling Commissioner Julia Patterson, who made the motion to approve the change, said the matter was “a difficult decision” and “very divisive.”
“I think the arguments on both sides are very compelling,” Patterson added.
Commissioner Sarah Lawson, who voted against the max bet increase along with Commissioner Anders Ibsen, sided with the tribes.
“If the Legislature meant for cardrooms to operate this way they would have done so,” Lawson declared.
Maverick Celebrates Higher Bets
Maverick Gaming said increased betting limits will better allow its cardrooms to compete in the state gaming market. CEO Eric Persson explained that the state’s gaming tribes already have an upper hand in being able to operate slot machines and sports betting.
I have a pretty big investment in the state, have a pretty big investment in cardrooms, and we’re trying to figure out how do we make it be vibrant,” Persson told the state Gambling Commission while applying for the betting increase. “We don’t have sports betting. It already hurts our business on the weekends, but what can we do? At the end of the day, all we’re trying to do is compete.”
Along with its Washington properties, Maverick owns and operates cardrooms and/or casinos in Colorado and in Northern Nevada.
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