Arizona Sports Betting Hearing Puts Onus On Monday Court Date

Posted on September 3, 2021
Arizona sports betting
Posted By on September 3, 2021

The Maricopa County Superior Court will hear arguments challenging Arizona sports betting law on Labor Day.

At a court hearing Thursday, Judge James Smith outlined the process and set the new hearing date for a lawsuit by the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe against Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt.

The tribe seeks an injunction to stop the launch of AZ sports betting with arguments the enacting legislation and updated tribal compacts violate the Arizona Constitution.

What the Arizona hearing will look like

Each side will have 30 minutes to argue their case 9 a.m. PST Monday.

Smith said he is sensitive there is a deadline to the case and expects either party to file an appeal. With the new hearing scheduled, the Sept. 9 launch of sports betting in Arizona is still at risk.

Daily fantasy sports and sign-ups for AZ sports betting accounts began Aug. 28.

Monday could stop AZ sports betting launch

The defendants need to submit their opposition brief to the court Friday. Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier, Ducey’s attorney, said there could be as many as seven declarations of support.

The ADG’s attorney, Pat Irvine, said the department and the governor’s team will work in conjunction to file their opposition brief. The governor’s team also plans to file a motion to dismiss the case.

Smith said he expects to have a decision Monday night.

Yavapai-Prescott Tribe’s claim

The tribe claims the legislation and updated tribal compacts signed earlier this year are unconstitutional:

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.

The tribe did not sign the compact. Ducey signed the enacting legislation and updated tribal compacts in April.

While the expanded compacts allow for additional gaming offerings at tribal establishments, they also allows professional sports organizations to take part in the sports betting industry. The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe claims that will hinder its ability to generate revenue to pay for tribal operations and programs.

Additional complaints against sports betting

Among the tribe’s other issues was the distribution of licenses.

There were 10 licenses for the state’s 22 tribes and 10 for the professional sports organizations in the state. The ADG announced the 18 initial licensees last week.

The ADG awarded 10 tribal licenses, while it issued eight to sports organizations. The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe was not among the 10 tribes to receive a license for AZ sports betting.

Other Arizona sports betting lawsuit ‘vacated’

An emergency hearing Friday was vacated for a case filed by Turf Paradise against the ADG. Turf Paradise filed the lawsuit because the horse racing track was denied a mobile sportsbook license.

According to Maricopa County, a hearing can be vacated for a variety of reasons: 

  • Potential consolidation of anticipated additional charges.
  • The prosecutor wants to present to a Grand Jury.
  • A vacated hearing does not mean a case was dismissed.

The ADG declined the license because it did not meet the professional sports venue requirements, according to the lawsuit.

Rush to market the cause?

Arizona regulators raced through the rules process this summer to launch in time for NFL betting.

The ADG also is dealing with an allegedly mistaken license sent to Cliff Castle Hotel Casino and PointsBet. Both parties are working to find another way to launch sports betting in Arizona.

Wyoming sports betting launched this week, the first state to both legalize and launch this year. The Wyoming Gaming Commission approved BetMGM and DraftKings during a special meeting Wednesday, both of which launched the same day.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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