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Christopher Boan for Bookies.com

By Christopher Boan | | 3 mins

Governor Seeks to Have Arizona Sports Betting Suit Dismissed

Governor Seeks to Have Arizona Sports Betting Suit Dismissed

A team of lawyers representing Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey want to put an end to an ongoing lawsuit by a northern Arizona tribe that seeks to upend the state’s legal sports betting market.

The Governor’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss the suit by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe in Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday, arguing the Tribe waited too long to file its complaint, and that its actions could have dire consequences for the 10 Arizona tribes and eight sports teams that have received Arizona sports betting licensure.

The motion to dismiss also claims the Tribe cannot receive what it’s asking for — which is to practically gut Arizona House Bill 2772, which legalized sports betting on and off reservation land, among other items.

The YPIT’s original lawsuit was filed in late August. Judge James Smith ruled against allowing a temporary restraining order to stop the rollout of sports betting on Labor Day. The Tribe filed an amended complaint in late September.

“The court already determined that YPIT was unlikely to succeed on its claims, after identifying many legal defects with those claims,” Monday’s motion to dismiss reads in reference to Judge Smith’s Labor Day ruling. “YPIT now takes a different approach: arguing that the Governor somehow singled out YPIT for disparate treatment in the negotiation of the 2021 Amended and Restated Gaming Compact (the “2021 Compact Amendments”).

“The FAC continues, however, to seek to enjoin or invalidate H.B. 2772, not the 2021 Compact Amendments. YPIT’s new allegations, fatally, do not solve the structural issues with YPIT’s claims against H.B. 2772 that this Court already identified.”

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How We Got Here

The road to Tuesday’s motion to dismiss began Aug. 27 when the tribe filed a lawsuit to block the rollout of sports betting in Arizona.

That lawsuit centered around Arizona H.B. 2772 being unconstitutional on the grounds the legislation violated Arizona’s Proposition 202, which legalized gaming activities on tribal lands in Arizona, among other items.

In his initial ruling, Judge Smith declared the tribe’s initial complaint failed to adequately describe why the bill and subsequent 2021 gaming compact violated the state’s constitution.

In Tuesday’s motion to dismiss, lawyers representing Gov. Ducey argue the tribe cannot achieve its goal of invalidating the bill, as it’s already been implemented.

“If YPIT succeeds on its claims and H.B. 2772 is invalidated in its entirety, ‘they have achieved what they have sought but the tribes’ protectible interests are impaired’,” the complaint reads. “On the other hand, there is no remedy that grants YPIT the relief it seeks (invalidating H.B. 2772) that avoids prejudicing the absent tribes.”

The governor’s lawyers cite the significant prejudice that signatory tribes face and the fact there are adequate remedies to resolve the YPIT’s complaints as reasons why Smith should dismiss the tribe’s amended complaint with prejudice.

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Where the Case Goes from Here

Smith sent an order to lawyers representing Gov. Ducey and the tribe Tuesday, telling both sides to convene within the next 10 days and come up with a schedule for future briefings on any future motions or pleadings.

There are currently no future court dates on the Maricopa Court Superior Court docket relating to the case.

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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.