Author: Debbie Hewlett
Last Updated: 17th March 2022
A sports betting appeal filed by the Yavapai Prescott Indian tribe in Arizona was denied by the Maricopa County Superior Court, which attempted to halt a planned debut later this week.
The tribe had requested the court to put a stop to the implementation of House Bill 2772, which gave 18 sports betting licences to ten of the state’s 22 tribes and eight sports organisations last month. On September 9, 2021, Arizona sports betting will make its debut.
The Yavapai Prescott tribe argued that the Act is unconstitutional, and that the expansion and new wagering options authorised by the statute and revised compacts will unfairly harm them.
In exchange for support for HB 2772, which allows tribes to expand their gaming offerings at their casinos to include table games such as roulette, baccarat, and craps, tribes were able to expand their gaming offerings at their casinos to include table games such as roulette, baccarat, and craps.
The Tonto and Quechan tribes, however, submitted a notice of intent to intervene in the legal action, as well as a combined intention to pursue a petition to dismiss if necessary, ahead of the hearing on the Yavapai Prescott tribe’s request for a temporary restraining order and injunction.
Dismissal of challenge
The tribe “did not present a meaningful analysis of its revenue decreasing if other venues for event wagering exist,” said James Smith, an Arizona Superior Court judge, in dismissing the challenge.
Of the ruling he said: “The tribe argued that the hardship is losing the ‘exclusive right to gaming on Indian lands’ under proposition 202. But proposition 202 did not purport to freeze in perpetuity the scope of lawful gambling in Arizona.
“The tribe also pointed to ‘the dire needs’ of its members, suggesting ‘exclusive’ gambling rights provide needed revenue to the tribe and its members
“The tribe’s evidence, however, did not show that its revenue will decline. Instead, it speculated that it may not receive added revenue from different gambling (i.e., event wagering off the tribe’s land).”
Delay in filing its lawsuits
Smith also stated that the tribe’s delay in filing its lawsuits “refutes the notion of irreparable harm,” adding that the tribe “knew then that the Legislation took effect immediately.”
“Nonetheless, the tribe waited more than four months to file suit; it filed only when this new gambling structure was about to launch.”
Adding: “The balance of hardships tilts in favor of a party facing a loss of constitutional rights. But the court found that the tribe’s constitutional challenges are unlikely to succeed.”
Despite declining the request to postpone the region’s upcoming sports betting debut, Smith recognises that the Yavapai Prescott tribe has the right to appeal the decision.