AZ Judge Rules Against Tribe’s Attempt To Stop Sports Betting

  • The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe lost in the first step of their lawsuit against Arizona.
  • This means that sports betting is likely to proceed without a hitch.
  • The tribe was not eligible to apply for a license to offer mobile sports betting in Arizona.

PHOENIX - Sports betting in Arizona will continue to launch on schedule after a judge ruled in favor of the state in a case brought to them by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe.

The Tribe sued the state using the claim that the AZ violated a law that limited lawmakers' power to amend voting initiatives.

In 2002, voters approved a set of gambling types to be allowed in the state and the Tribe is arguing that lawmakers should be restricted from modifying this list due to it being passed as a ballot initiative nearly 20 years ago.

It’s a similar case to the types being seen in Florida where the argument made to stop sports betting in the Sunshine State is that it is unconstitutional to expand it without voter approval.

Is It Unconstitutional?

Maricopa County Judge James Smith denied the Tribe's claim on the grounds that they did not properly demonstrate the law’s lack of constitutionality.

"The Tribe bears the burden of showing unconstitutionality," wrote Smith in his decision. "The court presumes the statute is constitutional, will uphold it unless it clearly is not, and prefers interpretations favoring constitutionality.

This opinion is also informed by the idea that the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe is extremely likely to appeal this case.

Left Out Of The Deal

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe is one of a few Tribes that did not sign amended compacts with the state of Arizona.

The new compacts are what allowed many of Arizona’s Tribes to operate table games and apply for mobile sports betting licenses.

Only 10 of Arizona’s 22 federally recognized tribes were selected to operate a sportsbook and those 10 were chosen from a pool of applicants that was closed off to the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe because they did not sign the renegotiated compact.

This could have been a potential motivator for the lawsuit as sports betting deals seem lucrative for all of those involved in them.

Arizona’s sports betting industry will be able to launch on time as this lawsuit makes its way through the appeals process.