Maverick Gaming Whips up Some Magic With Washington Wizards Casino Buy, Plots More Evergreen State Deals

Posted on: August 24, 2019, 03:52h. 

Last updated on: August 24, 2019, 04:15h.

Maverick Gaming LLC, a privately held, Nevada-based regional gaming operator, is buying Wizards Casino in Burien, Washington. It is forecasting more deals there, as the company makes a push to bring sports wagering to the Evergreen State.

The Red Garter Casino in Nevada. Owner Maverick Gaming is making deals in Washington. (Image: Fox 13)

Pending Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) approval, the transaction is expected to close in September. Neither Maverick nor Wizards Casino disclosed financial details of the acquisition. The Burien property opened in early 2011 and is small by traditional casino standards, with just 8,500 square feet of gaming space, including just 10 table games and five poker tables. Maximum bets at the venue are capped at $300.

In the next month, we expect to announce the purchase of four more card rooms in Washington, as well as another property in Nevada,” said Eric Persson, owner of Maverick Gaming, in a statement. “Once all of our contemplated purchases close, we expect to be at 31 casinos in multiple states and jurisdictions.”

Maverick owns five Nevada gaming properties – three in Elko and two in West Wendover. Those venues include the Red Garter Hotel & Casino, Gold Country Casino, and the High Desert Inn.

Prior to the announcement of the Wizards deal, Maverick owned 13 gaming properties, including cardrooms, in Washington state, according the company’s web site. Those include the Roman Casino in Seattle, Club Hollywood, Crazy Moose Casino Pasco, and the Red Dragon.

Sports Betting Push

Maverick appears set on making Washington policymakers and regulators see the light regarding the potential benefits of sports betting.

“As our footprint grows in Washington, we are very interested in helping the State see the potential tax revenue sports wagering can generate for Washingtonians, which we estimate, if done right, can be in excess of $50 million,” said Persson.

Washington’s neighbor to the south, Oregon, is close to having sports betting operational, and the Evergreen State is a no-income-tax state, meaning another revenue stream could be alluring to some politicians there. But it may be a while before Maverick gets the chance to realize those benefits.

In the most recent legislative session in the Pacific Northwest state, three sports betting bills were proposed, but none became law. The one that got the most consideration was HB 1975, which would allow for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks only at the state’s tribal venues, meaning operators like Maverick would miss out on the action.

Some experts familiar with Washington state politics believe it could be 2021 before politicians take up the sports betting debate again, because the state has longer legislative sessions in odd-numbered years.

Gaming Ties

Persson and his partner, Justin Beltram, have extensive gaming industry experience. The former was previously vice president of slots for Las Vegas Sands, while Beltram is a Bellagio and Marina Bay Sands alum.

To pay for the Wizards Casino, Maverick is using cash on hand and debt financing from HG Vora Capital Management, a hedge fund that is familiar with the gaming business. Currently included among HG Vora’s equity positions are stakes in Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc. and International Game Technology Plc.