Sep 06, 2021


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On Labor Day, Arizona sports betting will be challenged in Maricopa County Superior Court. Last week, Judge James Smith set this date for the hearing for the lawsuit the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe is bringing against Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.

The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe is looking for an injunction that would block the launch of Arizona sports betting. They argue that the new sports betting laws combined with the updated tribal gaming compacts actually violate the Arizona state Constitution. Both sides have been given thirty minutes to make their case on Monday, September 6th.

Of course, Arizona sports betting had been set to launch on September 9th. So, with that looming deadline quickly approaching, this hearing is especially important. It is expected that either party may file an appeal. But, this case does jeopardize that potential launch date for sports betting in the state.

Registration for both Arizona sports betting as well as daily fantasy sports in the state started on August 28th. Last Friday, the defendants in the case had to submit their opposition brief to the Maricopa County Superior Court. An attorney on the defendants’ side released that she expects potentially seven declarations of support for their case.

As of now, attorneys for the Arizona Department of Gaming as well as Arizona Governor Doug Ducey have been working together. Governor Ducey’s team has plans to file a motion to get the case dismissed. Meanwhile, Judge Smith expects to have reached a decision as early as the evening of the hearing.

The crux of the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe’s case is the fact that they believe the new law and updated tribal gaming compacts that were signed a few months ago are unconstitutional. They believe the defendants in the case have violated the Equal Protection Clause and the Voter Protection Act. They argue this because House Bill 2772 was enacted as an emergency measure that did not require voter approval.

As a result, the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe has not signed the updated tribal gaming compact. Back in April, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed the Arizona sports betting bill and the new tribal gaming compacts into law.

These new tribal compacts will enable new gaming offerings at establishments run by Arizona tribes. However, it also gives professional sports organizations the power to run their own Arizona sports betting. As a result, the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe has claimed this will hurt its ability to generate its own revenue that will in turn pay for tribal gaming operations as well as programs.

The tribe also has an issue with how the licenses are set to be distributed. The bill allows for 10 licenses to be distributed to the 22 tribes in Arizona. And, 10 licenses would also go to the professional sports teams in the state of Arizona. A few days ago, 18 of those license recipients were announced by the Arizona Department of Gaming.

10 tribal licenses were announced as well as 8 professional sports licenses. And, the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe was not listed among the lucky recipients.

Another Arizona sports betting hearing was vacated last week. The lawsuit has been brought against the Arizona Department of Gaming by horse racing track Turf Paradise. Turf Paradise filed the lawsuit when they were denied a mobile sportsbook license by the ADG.

However, a vacated hearing does not mean that the lawsuit was dismissed. According to the lawsuit, the Arizona Department of Gaming declined to offer Turf Paradise a license because it did not find that the venue met the requirements that a professional sports venue needs to in order to receive an Arizona sports betting license.

Lawmakers in the state of Arizona pushed Arizona sports betting through this past summer in record time. This was because the regulators wanted to launch Arizona sports betting in time for the NFL season to take advantage of NFL betting.

At this time, the Arizona Department of Gaming is also facing another issue. An allegedly mistaken license was granted to Cliff Castle Hotel Casino as well as PointsBet. These parties are working to secure another pathway towards being able to launch their own Arizona sports betting.

Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry expert. You can learn more about our author's expertise here.

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