This past Labor Day, an Arizona Judge ruled against a sports betting lawsuit filed by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe. The tribe alleged that the recent betting law signed in April was “unfair” and “unconstitutional” due to the fact that it went against Proposition 202 filed in 2002. This law, approved by voters, set out the types of gambling allowed in Arizona. Therefore, only the voters should be able to decide whether expanding gambling to professional sports teams should be allowed.
The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe claims that allowing professional sports teams the ability to authorize their own betting games siphons revenue from tribes and their casinos. There is also an issue regarding the number of licenses permitted to tribes. Professional sports teams are offered 10 licenses to run sports betting on or near their stadiums, as well as on online platforms, while the 22 tribes present in Arizona are only granted 10 licenses between them. Only nine teams and events qualify for these licenses, plus each tribe must pay a nonrefundable $100,000 fee just for applying.
In response, the state attorney’s claim that the tribe’s interpretation of this new law is wrong and that they waited too long to take any action against it. The lawyer for the Department of Gaming states that there is no clear way to tell whether the tribes would actually lose any revenue. The new law was also signed in April, nearly five months ago, with the tribe filing the lawsuit after the fact. However, the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe argues the state rushed the ruling in order to make it a law prior to the football season officially starting. In response, the state claimed they would lose “millions per month” if the new gambling law did not take effect.
Judge James Smith claims he made the abnormal decision to make a ruling on Labor Day because he knew the tribe would appeal.
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