AZ Sports Betting Injunction Hearing To Be Held Next Week

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An Arizona judge could decide early next week whether to grant the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe’s request to delay the start of Arizona sports betting on Sept. 9.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith today set the preliminary injunction hearing in the case for 9 a.m. on Sept. 6, with weekend deadlines for filings, although the Labor Day holiday could bump the case to Tuesday. Attorneys for the tribe and defendants Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) Director Ted Vogt will have one-hour total to make their case, with defendants’ counsel working together. 

The court is expediting the hearing in hopes that a decision on injunctive relief can be reached by or around the planned statewide launch next Thursday. 

“I am sensitive to the fact that there’s a deadline out there that you want to meet, and I’m sure that whether I grant or deny the request for injunction, the dissatisfied party will want to appeal,” Smith said today. 

The Yavapai-Prescott tribe filed a request for injunction on Aug. 26, claiming that it was excluded from tribal-state gaming compact negotiations between Gov. Ducey and 20 Arizona tribes. The amended compact and 2021 state law will allow sports betting both on and off reservation starting this fall. 

A hearing scheduled by the court today in another lawsuit filed by Turf Paradise horse racetrack in Phoenix was canceled. The suit was filed after the track was denied a mobile sports betting license by the ADG this summer. 

What To Expect In Court Next Week

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier is the attorney representing Gov. Ducey in the Yavapai-Prescott tribe’s suit. She told the court today that testimony from seven, possibly more, witnesses may be presented on behalf of the governor at next week’s hearing.

Staudenmaier said the governor’s counsel may file a motion to dismiss the case — something Smith said would not happen quickly. 

“A motion to dismiss is a separate kettle of fish … There’s nothing to be expedited about that,” he told Staudenmaier. 

The ADG plans to present its case alongside the governor’s counsel, according to attorney Pat Irvine who is representing the ADG. Each side — the tribe and counsels for the governor and the ADG — will be assigned 30 minutes at the hearing next week. 

The lawsuits were filed a day before the state announced which major sportsbooks will be licensed by the ADG.  It was a legal move that has rankled more than a few Arizonans, including Arizona State Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, a lead sponsor of the state’s 2021 sports betting law. 

Shope said in a statement that the timing of the lawsuits “amount to an end-around on that qualifications-based awarding process at the Department of Gaming.” 

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Writer and Contributor
Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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