Washington Gaming Regulators Allow Cardrooms to Increase Bets
The Washington State Gambling Commission recently gave commercial cardrooms in the state a big boost by approving bets with higher limits.
Maverick Gaming, headquartered in Kirkland, Washington, is a gaming operator that owns and operates 23 out of the 38 commercial cardrooms in the state, including the Roman Casino in Seattle. Last year, Maverick petitioned the Gambling Commission in the hopes of upping the maximum wager in their cardrooms from $300 to $500. After a heated discussion last Thursday, the Commission finally decided on a $400 per hand limit. This will go into effect in 30 days, on August 19. Maverick hopes that the increase in the max bet will help their cardrooms stay competitive with tribal casinos, which already allow wagers of over $500 per hand.
In 1997, Washington state lawmakers legalized cardrooms and house-banked table games such as roulette and blackjack for commercial purposes. The aim was to generate revenue to benefit smaller businesses like restaurants and bars. The cardroom law, which was referred to as “social gaming,” was initially limited to a $25 limit per hand. Since then, the threshold has only been raised three times, the latest coming in 2009 when the caps were increased to $300. This has caused dissent within the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA); they argue that the move opposes the initial objective of the social gaming statute.
The decision to increase max bets at cardrooms was a difficult and controversial one. It was met with dissension from some Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) members, who argued the move flew in the face of the Legislature’s original intent. State Gaming Commissioner Julia Patterson said the arguments for and against the decision were “very compelling”, while Commissioner Sarah Lawson, who voted against the increase, sided with the tribes claiming that the Legislature would have allowed higher bets if they had wanted to. The change in the law, however, allowed the remaining operators to consolidate and acquire market share from the smaller ‘mom and pop’ establishments, branding themselves as casinos. Maverick Celebrates Higher Bets.
Maverick Celebrates Higher Bets
CEO Eric Persson of Maverick Gaming expressed that the company is aiming to better its cardrooms in the states gaming market. This would be done by increasing the betting limits in order to compete with the gaming tribes’ advantage of slot machines and sports betting. He noted that without these options, it has already caused challenges to their weekend business. Persson pointed out “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.” Maverick Gaming also has cardrooms and/or casinos in Colorado and Northern Nevada apart from its Washington properties.
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