Christopher Boan for Bookies.com

By Christopher Boan | | 4 mins

Arizona Injunction Hearing Date Set in Sports Betting Suit

Arizona Injunction Hearing Date Set in Sports Betting Suit
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A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Thursday scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for Labor Day morning to determine the next step for a lawsuit that seeks to delay the start of sports betting in Arizona.

The hearing pertains to a lawsuit filed by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, seeking to overturn House Bill 2772, which legalized sports betting in the state.

The court, under presiding Judge James Smith, only heard discussion on scheduling and setting future hearings on Thursday. Operators of retail and online sportsbooks are scheduled to begin accepting bets at 12:01 a.m. Arizona time on Sept. 9, in time for the start of NFL betting.

Some sportsbook operators have been offering early registration promotions at sports betting sites.

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Both sides will be back in court at 9 a.m. Arizona time Monday and each will be given 30 minutes to argue their case. Smith said he planned to make a ruling that night, although he expects whoever doesn’t receive the outcome they were looking for to appeal.

’There is a Deadline Out There’

Smith told lawyers on Thursday that extra time will be necessary to render a decision, given the complexities involved in the case and because of the likelihood of an appeal.

“I’m sensitive to the fact that there is a deadline out there that you want to meet,” Smith said. “The dissatisfied party is going to appeal, so I’m trying to get this done as soon as I can so that you can jump through this hoop and get whatever appellate court you want to end up with.”

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Smith told lawyers for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt and the tribe that they must submit all defendant’s responses by Friday afternoon.

Additionally, all parties must submit witness testimony by Friday night and the plaintiff’s reply no later than Sunday afternoon, Smith said.

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Suit Calls Law Unconstitutional

The Yavapai-Prescott suit says in its lawsuit that Arizona HB 2772, which allowed operators to apply for one of 20 licenses to offer sports betting and daily fantasy sports, was unconstitutional.

The tribe also argues that the state’s voter-approved Proposition 202, known as the Indian Gaming Preservation and Self Reliance Act, which allowed Arizona tribes to operate gaming facilities to generate funds that would go toward education, housing, health care, clean water and other basic services on reservation land.

In the lawsuit, the Yavapai-Prescotts say that Arizona’s tribes are at a disadvantage under the new compact, as they must pay the same non-refundable licensing fee ($100,000) as professional sports franchises, but with a much lower chance of obtaining a license.

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The 2021 compact allocates 10 licenses for Arizona professional sports teams and 10 for tribes. The suit says that number is unfair, as there are eight professional sports franchises in the state, by the department’s definition, in comparison to at least 21 tribes.

The ADG approved 18 licenses on Aug. 27. The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe did not receive a license.

The Racetrack’s Case

The only other suit filed against the sports betting rollout process, by Turf Paradise Racing, was voided on Wednesday, but it could be rescheduled. It had been set to be heard on Friday.

It’s not clear whether that case will be heard at all, as attempts to reach TP Racing’s presiding attorney, Craig Keller, were not returned.

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About the Author

Christopher Boan for Bookies.com
Christopher Boan
Christopher Boan has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, with stops at ArizonaSports.com, Tucson Weekly and Green Valley News.