Sports Betting

Judge Refuses to Block Sports Betting Law; Green Light for State


Arizona sports betting’s launch is going to coincide with the beginning of the NFL season when the Buccaneers host the Cowboys. The implementation process has gone well since sports betting was legalized earlier this year.

On Monday, Arizona sports betting took another significant step in the lead-up to Thursday. A judge denied an attempt by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe to limit sports betting to tribal nations. In Arizona, tribal nations and professional sports franchises have the ability to offer sports wagering.

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe did not want professional sports franchises to offer sports betting because these groups will dominate the industry.

Blocking Professional Sports Franchises

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe tried to take sports betting away from sports franchises in the Maricopa County Superior Court. However, Judge James Smith refused an injunction banning sports wagering from the franchises.

The ruling was given in the Maricopa County Superior Court on Labor Day. A holiday ruling is rare, but it was needed with the launch happening on Thursday. Many professional sports teams have large deals with top-tier betting operators.

FanDuel is partnered with the Phoenix Suns, and the Arizona Cardinals, who open their season on Sunday, have created a deal with BetMGM. A voter initiative from 2002 gave tribal nations the exclusive right to offer gambling in the state.

Nevertheless, Judge Smith ruled that Proposition 202 (Voter Initiative) was exclusive to casino gaming, and sports betting did not apply. Therefore, sports teams have the right to half of the sports betting market in Arizona.

In his decision, Smith declared, “Plaintiff did not cite language from the proposition indicating that Arizona would never expand gambling to different activities or locations. What is more, the proposition contemplated gambling expansions.”

Governor Doug Ducey, who heavily supported House Bill 2772, the sports betting bill in the state, was ecstatic with the ruling.

After the ruling, his spokesperson said, “Today’s ruling is not just a win in court, but a win for Arizona. A tremendous amount of work by a diverse group of stakeholders has gone into implementing HB2772 and the amended tribal-state gaming compacts. This ruling means that work will be allowed to continue.”

Another Complaint by the Tribe

The tribe took multiple strategies to bring sports betting away from the professional sports franchises. The voter initiative was their main argument, but their supporting statements claimed that franchises had more accessible access to the industry.

Arizona lawmakers allowed 20 sports betting licenses to be split between the professional sports teams and tribal nations. All professional sports teams were given a license after paying the $100,000 nonrefundable application fee.

There were six tribal nations cut out of the sports betting market in the state. Smith opened the door for exploring more lawsuits in the future. Yet, the current support does not give the tribe any ground to stand on in a court of law.

Sports franchises are going to make Arizona sports betting very lucrative. If these entities were cut out of the industry, it would not have been good with the impending launch happening on Thursday.

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