In this month's newsletter: Cardroom lawsuit dismissed, National coverage on tribal sovereignty and sports betting, Resources and support for Problem Gambling Awareness Month, Olympia watch update, Registration opens for 2023 Northwest Indian Gaming Conference & Expo, Last call for WIGA scholarship applications and more.

Cardroom gambling expansion lawsuit dismissed

In a major legal victory for tribes and tribal sovereignty, federal Judge David Estudillo, recently dismissed neighborhood cardroom operator Maverick Gaming’s wide-ranging lawsuit seeking to invalidate all the gaming compacts negotiated by Washington state tribes with state and federal authorities. Maverick’s suit demanded that neighborhood card rooms be allowed to offer sports betting and any other form of gaming offered at tribal casinos. 
The judge ruled that if the lawsuit went forward, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe’s gaming activities would be seriously impacted, making them a “required party” to the case. He then concluded that because tribes enjoy sovereign immunity, they could not be sued. 
“As we said at the time of our legal filing, it pained us to have to legally oppose a member of our tribe, but Maverick’s case, if successful, would have irreparably harmed historically marginalized tribal communities, and would have run counter to the will of the legislature and the general public,” Shoalwater Bay Chair Charlene Nelson said. 
Even though Maverick’s CEO is a member of Shoalwater Bay, the tribe had moved last fall to intervene in the case. Maverick’s gambling expansion efforts are not over, however, since the company is appealing the judge’s decision.
Read coverage of this story in Indian Gaming Magazine or review the US District Court, Western District of Washington at Tacoma ruling here.

National spotlight on tribal sovereignty, gaming and sports betting

The recent New York Times’ article, ‘A Risky Wager: How Sports Betting Upended the Economies of Native American Tribes,’ has put a spotlight on the importance of gaming to tribes and the threat that sports betting and online wagering pose to tribal economies and sovereignty. Reporters from the Times reached out to WIGA to learn more about what’s at stake in the Maverick lawsuit. Read the NYTimes piece here.
New York Times Quotation of the Day 2/10/23

“The private sector has always wanted what the tribes have. So they’re looking at ways to try to squeeze the tribes out”

 – W. Ron Allen, Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and Chairman of the Washington Indian Gaming Association

Tribes recognize Problem Gambling Awareness Month

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and WIGA is dedicated to helping people better recognize and understand the issue of problem gambling and get the resources they need. WIGA, tribes, Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling, the National Council on Problem Gambling and other community partners are spreading the message of hope and help to those affected by problem gambling.
For example, WIGA’s annual digital media campaign is connecting those suffering from problem gambling with the help they need while recognizing the great work being done by tribal nations. Through the use of digital targeting, compelling ads and a customized website, WIGA is reaching out to people throughout the state of Washington who are impacted by problem gambling. Ads are currently running on news and other popular websites, social media and Google Search to target people as they seek help and support. Visit the campaign website at
Tribes in Washington are also recognizing Problem Gambling Awareness Month with events, campaigns and outreach to connect with people who may be struggling with gambling addiction. For example, the Tulalip Tribes hosted a problem gambling screening day on March 14 and will hold the event, "Sharing Joyfully in Our Recovery" on March 26 and the Cowlitz Tribe is hosting a series of community education dinners. (These and other events are listed on the National Council on Problem Gambling website.) 
While March puts a spotlight on problem gambling, it's important to know that tribes work year-round to support responsible gaming and work on multiple fronts to proactively address problem gambling. On average, tribes contribute more than $3 million per year to support responsible gambling education, prevention, treatment and wellness programs. Tribes also tackle problem gambling through self-help programs, awareness-building campaigns, casino self-exclusions and ban requests. Learn more here.

Olympia watch update: Bills to follow

The 2023 Washington Legislative Session began on January 9 and the house of origin cut off was on March 10. Here are a few of the bills we’re still keeping an eye on:

HB1013 Establishing regional apprenticeship programs.
SB 5371 protects southern resident orcas from vessels.
HB 1170 (SB 5093), improves climate resilience through updates to the state's integrated climate response strategy.
HB 1177 (SB 5137), creates a missing and murdered indigenous women and people cold case investigations unit.
HB 1290 (SB 5086), concerns training for tribal police officers and employees.
HB 1332 Supporting public school instruction in tribal sovereignty and federally recognized Indian tribes.
HB 1639 Concerning the Billy Frank Jr. national statuary hall.
HB 1678 Establishing and authorizing the profession of dental therapy.

The last day of regular session is April 23.

Register now for the 2023 Northwest Indian Gaming Conference & Expo

Mark your calendars! The 2023 Northwest Indian Gaming Conference & Expo returns to Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, WA from June 19-21, 2023. 
This is a unique opportunity for community members to learn about the current state of gaming in Washington and throughout Indian Country. Attendees get up-to-date information on gaming technology, management solutions, gaming regulations and the current political issues that affect tribal gaming operations. 
This year’s conference will coincide with The Northwest Indian Gaming Golf Tournament at Salish Cliffs Golf Club on June 19. This charitable golf tournament benefits the WIGA College Scholarship Program which helps Native American students in Washington to advance their own self-sufficiency and broaden their personal and professional potential through higher education.

Last call for WIGA scholarship applications

Hurry! The deadline to apply for the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) Scholarship Program is fast approaching. All applications are due by March 31, 2023.

WIGA scholarships are awarded to students pursuing degrees from community and technical colleges, bachelor’s and graduate college or university degrees. WIGA will award multiple scholarships totaling $100,000 for Native American and Alaska Native students for the 2023-24 academic school year.

Applicants must be students who are enrolled members of one of Washington's 29 federally recognized tribes or American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled in a federally recognized tribe who are attending school in Washington State. 

Visit WIGA’s scholarship webpage for more information and to apply.

Social Media Highlight

Here’s one of our most popular recent Facebook posts. Visit Washington Tribes on Facebook to read the whole post and see what else we’ve shared lately.

Recent News About Tribes in Washington

We love sharing news from tribes across the state and hope you enjoy this month’s updates. 
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