Featured in this article:
  • Arizona sports betting's launch threatened by two lawsuits.
  • The Native American Tribe and the horse racetrack were denied sportsbook operating licenses.
  • An emergency hearing will be held for each suit on Friday, September 3.

3 Minute Read

The Grand Canyon.

Two parties denied a stake in Arizona’s new sports betting regime filed lawsuits aiming to prevent legal wagering from launching. The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe and Turf Paradise racetrack both were denied when Arizona announced its licensed sports betting operators.

Now, for different reasons, each contends the state should halt its legalized betting rollout. Both parties believe they should receive a coveted betting license.

What Does the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe Contend About Arizona Sports Betting?

A Native American Tribe, representatives for the Yavapai-Prescott named Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) Director Ted Vogt as defendants. Their lawsuit alleges that Native American Tribes have an exclusive right to offer gaming in Arizona and the new sports betting law violates that right.

Phoenix Suns received an Arizona sports betting license.

The Phoenix Suns received one of the 18 licenses to operator a sportsbook.

However, the Federal Department of the Interior approved Arizona’s new gaming compact allowing non-Tribal legal wagering. The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe is one of 16 Native American Tribes to apply for a sports betting operator’s license. The ADG only awarded ten licenses to Tribes, in addition to eight reserved for professional sports organizations.

Does Turf Paradise Have an Argument?

The new Arizona law explicitly sets aside licenses for the state’s professional sports organizations, not just its franchises or teams. Turf Paradise’s lawsuit argues that, as a professional sports organization, denying the racetrack a license was arbitrary and capricious by the ADG.

Both the TPC Scottsdale and the Phoenix Raceway received one of the eight licenses. Each hosts professional sports (PGA Tour and NASCAR, respectively), but, like Turf Paradise, only hosts the contests.

While other Arizona sporting organizations, like the Fiesta Bowl, partnered with a sportsbook, they did not actually receive an operator’s license. Turf Paradise hopes to convince a judge that, as an Arizona professional sports organization, the ADG should have granted them a slice of the sports betting pie.

TPC Scottsdale Received a sportsbook license.

The TPC Scottsdale golf course – home of the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Open – will have a legal sportsbook.

Will Either Lawsuit Prevent the Launch of Arizona Sports Betting?

Each lawsuit will receive an emergency hearing on Friday, September 3 in Maricopa County Superior Court. However, it is unlikely either lawsuit could result in an injunction that stops sports betting from going live next week.

Like a similar lawsuit in Florida, stakeholders who are left out of modernized sports betting laws have little recourse. Even if a court agrees that the ADG wrongfully denied the Tribe or Turf Paradise a license, that does not mean the entire new law is invalid.

Instead, if either party prevails in court, the ADG may be forced to reevaluate its application process. Damages could also be awarded but establishing a proper amount of harm would be difficult for such a new industry.

Regardless, the ADG likely has data or information to support its decision-making. Whether these lawsuits proceed once regulated sportsbooks go live will depend on how much each party can spend in pursuit of an uncertain remedy.

 

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller is a veteran casino writer with decades of experience writing online casino reviews and game guides. His betting strategy articles, and gambling news updates have been a fixture in the industry since 2004.

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