The Yavapai-Prescott Indian tribe has already lost the first round of their legal fight against the State of Arizona, but they are not giving up. The tribe is not happy with how the new gambling contracts were created in the state and, in particular, how they led to the legalization of sports betting. He attempted to have all sports betting activities suspended by a judge just before the state market went live, and after that failed, he decided to try again.
Arizona tribe is fighting an uphill battle
At the end of last month, as Arizona prepared to launch its legal sports betting market, the Yavapai-Prescott tribe jumped. He threw a flag on gambling, arguing that expanding gambling options in the state, while giving tribes more flexibility, would ultimately cause them to lose revenue. By allowing outside operators, such as FanDuel, Wynn Resorts and others, to participate, the state was effectively breaking the law governing Indian gambling rights.
The tribe launched their offensive and attempted to have the introduction of sports betting suspended by a judge just days before the start of the NFL season. However, his claim was dismissed with Judge James Smith, a judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, ruling that no concrete evidence to support a reduction in income had been provided. He claimed the tribe had only provided speculation about what might happen and, as a result, put the complaint aside and allowed Arizona to usher in a new era in sports betting.
Second round ready to start
Because Arizona’s sports betting laws only allow ten licenses to be issued to tribes in the state, even though there are 20 officially registered, the Yavapai-Prescott are stunned at how the legislation, House Bill 2772 (HB 2772), could be considered legitimate. After being rejected in the first round, the tribe is apparently gearing up for the second round and filed an updated complaint with the courts. Details of the new complaint were not disclosed; However, now having more time to prepare their case, it is highly likely that the tribe added an arsenal of ammunition to their battle.
This arsenal includes a weapon that Justice Smith gave to the tribe. In his ruling, he suggested that the complaint could have been valid if it had been based on the claim that the gambling contracts violated the equal protection clause. He explained at the time, “Tribes using trust land to expand gambling is a very different argument than HB 2772 which treats tribes differently from owners of sports franchises. And that difference between tribes and sports franchises was the thrust of Motion. The tribe couldn’t use their answer to broaden the argument. These may be legitimate and serious questions to explore in this litigation, but they do not justify the injunction sought by the tribe.
This would seem to indicate that the complaint may be justified and the tribe will likely explore that angle with their amended complaint. However, it will always be difficult to find a strong enough justification that even the courts will stop sports betting.