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Arizona tribe fails in legal challenge over sports betting launch


A Superior Court in Arizona has ruled against the Yavapai Prescott Indian tribe’s bid to halt the planned launch of sports betting in the state later this week.

The Yavapai Prescott last week requested the Maricopa County Superior Court to halt the implementation of House Bill 2772, which grants sports betting licenses to 10 sports franchises and 10 tribes.

The bill would allow licensees to begin accepting wagers from September 9, with the state’s regulator the Arizona Department of Gaming having issued a number of permits ahead of this date.

The Yavapai Prescott claimed the legislation is unconstitutional and that it would be unfairly disadvantaged by the expansion and new wagering opportunities created by the bill and amended compact.

However, the Tonto Apache and Quechan tribes of Arizona attempted to block the lawsuit, which also sought to void an amended gaming compact negotiated by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and 20 of the state’s 22 federally recognized Indian tribes, which was approved by the US Department of Interior in May.

Superior Court Judge James Smith yesterday (September 7) denied the Yavapai Prescott request for an injunction to delay the planned launch of legal sports betting in a hearing at the Maricopa County Superior Court.

In his ruling, Judge Smith said the tribe did not show that House Bill 2772 violates its rights in relation to event wagering, nor that public policy would favour the delay in launching sports betting.

Judge Smith also noted that the Yavapai Prescott failed to demonstrate how the legislation would lead to its revenue declining, saying that the tribe instead speculated how it may not receive added revenue from different gambling, such as event wagering off its land.

“The balance of hardships tilts in favor of a party facing a loss of constitutional rights, but the Court found that the Tribe’s constitutional challenges are unlikely to succeed,” Smith said in his ruling.

However, while the judge blocked the injunction request, the decision is open to appeal should the Yavapai Prescott opt to pursue this course of action.