Arizona Sports Betting Cleared to Launch September 9 After Judge Nixes Tribe’s Challenge

  • Judge Smith rejected the YPIT’s injunction request to stop the rollout of sports betting
  • His ruling landed mere hours after an unusual Labor Day hearing on Monday
  • The casino-owning tribe wanted sports betting law HB 2772 declared unconstitutional
  • The YPIT was one of six tribes that were not awarded a sports betting license in the state
  • Several Arizona lawmakers have publicly applauded the court’s decision
Woman with Arizona flag painted on her face happily clenching her fists
Legal sports betting is coming to Arizona on Thursday after a judge rejected an injunction request filed by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Final stumbling block cleared

A judge has cleared the final stumbling block that could have derailed the September 9 launch of legal sports betting in Arizona.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith on Monday refused to issue an injunction request by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe (YPIT) to stop sports wagering from starting Thursday. The YPIT owns Bucky’s Casino and the Yavapai Casino in Arizona.

DraftKings Sportsbook took to Twitter last night to trumpet words that are music to bettors’ ears: “Sports betting is coming to Arizona on September 9”:

According to the Associated Press, Judge Smith’s ruling landed “just hours after he held an unusual Labor Day hearing” on the request filed by the YPIT.

The YPIT filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction on August 26. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed sports betting legislation HB 2772 into law on April 15 this year, allowing for professional sports teams to operate sports wagering.

The YPIT wanted HB 2772 declared unconstitutional, arguing that the law violates the state’s Voter Protection Act. It posited that the bill illegally amended Proposition 202, a 2002 voter initiative that restricted gambling outside of tribal reservations.

The judge countered by writing that Proposition 202 regulated the forms of wagering permitted at tribal casinos, but not other types of gambling.

Challenge followed rejection

The Maricopa County Court judgment signed by Smith on September 6 argues that the YPIT only filed its challenge to the law 133 days after Ducey passed HB 2772.

Six tribal applicants, including the YPIT, failed to receive a license.

The suit notably arrived on the same day that the Arizona Department of Gaming apportioned the state’s first sports betting licenses. Out of the 18 licenses awarded, eight went to professional sports entities and ten to tribal partners. Six tribal applicants, including the YPIT, failed to receive a license.

Judge Smith said the tribe’s delay in filing the motion went against it and “rebuts the notion of irreparable harm.”

“not just a win in court, but a win for Arizona”

Governor Ducey’s spokesperson, C.J. Karamargin, said Smith’s ruling “is not just a win in court, but a win for Arizona.” Karamargin added that a “tremendous amount of work” went into implementing HB 2772, and that Monday’s ruling “means that work will be allowed to continue.”

Arizona ready to rumble

Arizona lawmakers have met the clearing of the last hurdle ahead of the much-awaited launch of sports betting with relief. Arizona Senator T.J. Shope (R) said that, while he expected the Maricopa County Court ruling, he was “thankful that law was followed nonetheless.”

Shope took to Twitter to declare that “Event wagering is coming!”:

Arizona State Representative Jeff Weninger (R) also got onto Twitter to express that he was “thrilled” by the court’s decision, saying he was “excited for event wagering to start on Thursday”:

Sports betting will launch in Arizona on the same day the 2021-22 National Football League season kicks off, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.