Arizona Sports Betting Suit From Yavapai-Prescott Tribe Seeks To Block Licenses

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Arizona sports betting

The Sept. 9 launch of Arizona sports betting could be in jeopardy because of a lawsuit filed Thursday in Phoenix.

The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe sued Gov. Doug Ducey, as well as Arizona Department of Gaming director Ted Vogt, in Maricopa County Superior Court. Attorneys Luis Ochoa and Nicole Simmons of Quarles and Brady LLP asked the courts to stop the licensure process for and start of AZ sports betting:

Enter a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and ultimately a permanent injunction enjoining any issuance to, maintenance or operation of licenses under H.B. 2772.

Ducey signed HB 2772 into law in April and regulators swiftly approved governing rules this summer. The bill allows for 20 Arizona sportsbook licenses: 10 for sports entities and 10 for tribal gaming. Regulators already began approving operators for sports betting licenses earlier this week.

Grounds for Arizona sports betting suit

The complaint alleges the AZ sports betting bill violates the state constitution:

Defendants have violated the Voter Protection Act, the Equal Protection Clause, the prohibition against special laws and impermissible emergency measures pursuant to and under the Arizona Constitution when they enacted House Bill 2772 as an emergency measure and without voter approval.

House Bill 2772 … runs directly counter to the plain terms of the Indian Gaming Preservation and Self Reliance Act that was enacted by voter initiative, unfairly discriminates against YPIT from non-tribal owners based on a suspect class, and neither identifies nor is based on any subject matter that is urgent that would justify a valid emergency measure.

Tribe says law violates AZ gaming exclusivity

The tribe further claims the legislation infringes on its exclusivity to offer gaming in Arizona:

Eliminating YPIT’s gaming exclusivity now and issuing gaming licenses to permit powerful sports franchisees to compete with Indian tribes, such as YPIT, will indefinitely reduce the ability YPIT has to support its tribal government operations and members.

Arizona sports betting could launch faster than almost any other state absent the suit. Unless a court hears the motion for a temporary restraining order and injunction quickly, however, that timeline appears delayed at the least.

An ADOG spokesperson declined to comment on the suit, citing policy regarding pending litigation.

Not the only lawsuit either

Court records appear to show a second lawsuit against the ADOG as well.

The Thursday filing by TP Racing LLLP does not include details, but TP Racing is registered to Turf Paradise, a horse racing track in Phoenix.