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Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe Seeks Injunction of Arizona Sports Betting

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Aug 27, 2021 · 1:25 PM PDT

  • The Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe has filed a lawsuit against Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and Ted Vogt, director of the Arizona Department of Gaming.
  • The lawsuit claims the passage of Arizona’s sports betting bill was unconstitutional and it violates the state’s Voter Protection Act.
  • The tribe filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary inunction from issuing sports betting licenses or permitting sports betting.

According to a lawsuit filed on Thursday, Aug. 26, in the Maricopa County Superior Court, the Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe is claiming that Arizona’s sports betting bill is unconstitutional.

Attorney Luis A. Ochoa, the representing attorney for the tribe, filed the lawsuit. Additionally, a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction has been filed, requesting the state be unable to issue sports betting licenses, or, if the licenses are already issued, to permit sports betting until the case can be heard.

An emergency hearing of the case has been scheduled for Friday, Sept. 3, according to the Maricopa Country Superior Court.

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Seeking an Injunction of Arizona Sports Betting

Arizona’s sports betting bill (HB 2772) was approved by more than a 2:1 margin in April, receiving emergency authorization. This enabled the bill to quickly be signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in the same month.

In a copy of the lawsuit obtained by Sports Betting Dime, Gov. Ducey and Ted Vogt, director of the Arizona Department of Gaming, are named as the defendants.

The lawsuit seeks judgement declaring the state’s sports betting bill as unconstitutional because it violates the state’s Voter Protection Act. The Voter Protection Act declares the “legislature shall not have the power to amend an initiative measure approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon, or to amend a referendum measure decided by a majority of votes cast thereon, unless the amending legislation furthers the purposes of such measure.”

The plaintiff’s believe the approval of the sports betting bill subverts the protections afforded by the voter approved Proposition 202. The lawsuit seeks to declare the actions of the state and its governor in approving the sports betting bill as undermining Proposition 202’s voter-protected approval. Proposition 202, known as the “Indian Gaming Preservation and Self-Reliance Act,” was approved by state voters in November 2002. The Indian Gaming Preservation and Self-Reliance Act allows Indian tribes to conduct non-mobile gaming activities, such as keno, blackjack and poker, on  reservation property.

Commercial Gaming Expansion?

The lawsuit claims the approval of online sports betting and fantasy sports betting in Arizona outside of tribal lands amounts to commercial gaming expansion, which can only be approved by amending the state constitution through voter approval.

Plaintiffs also claim the lawsuit being enacted as an emergency measure runs afoul of the state’s constitution.

The lawsuit muddies Arizona’s sports betting plans, as the Department of Gaming is planning to announce awarded sports betting licenses today. The state’s sports betting bill approved 10 sports betting licenses for Arizona professional sports franchises and 10 for tribal operators.

The state hoped to launch daily fantasy sports on Saturday, Aug. 28, and its sports betting program by Thursday, September 9.

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