What’s Next For Arizona Sports Betting After Injunction Denial?

Arizona online sports betting
Photo credit: Craig Dudek

Arizona sports betting has a clear path to launch on Thursday, Sept. 9, after an Arizona Supreme Court judge denied an injunction request from the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe. What’s next for the launch and what can the state expect next from the filed lawsuit against Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and the Arizona Department of Gaming?

Sports betting will begin in the state at 12:01 a.m., Sept. 9, but account registration and funding has already begun. Additionally, daily fantasy sports competitions have opened and are currently live.

While the denial for an injunction is good news for the state’s sports betting launch, the lawsuit from the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe still remains and will be heard in court. The lawsuit claims that Arizona’s sports betting bill is unconstitutional because it violates the state’s Voter Protection Act.

Arizona Sports Betting Lawsuit Remains

The tribe also claims the sports betting bill runs afoul of Proposition 202, the “Indian Gaming Preservation and Self-Reliance Act,” and violates the exclusivity granted to the tribe to operate “Class III Gaming” in the state.

“How you can say Prop 202 has not been undone here, when it exorbitantly expands gaming in Arizona, within reservations and off, it is very strange to me, and not right,” Tribal attorney Nicole Simmons said at the injunction hearing.

The lawsuit also claims the approval of online sports betting and fantasy sports betting in Arizona outside of tribal lands amounts to commercial gaming expansion, which can only be approved by amending the state constitution through voter approval.

Plaintiffs also claim the lawsuit being enacted as an emergency measure runs afoul of the state’s constitution.

Tribes Fighting Back Against Lawsuit

However, over the weekend two rural Indian tribes, the Tonto Apache and Quechan tribes, filed a notice of intent to intervene in the legal action and will pursue a motion to dismiss the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe’s lawsuit.

The Tonto Apache and Quechan Tribes are represented by Rosette, LLP. The Tonto Apache tribe is located in Payson and operates the Mazatzal Casino and the Quechan Tribes of the Fort Yuma reservation are located in Yuma and operator the Paradise Casino. Both tribes received sports betting licenses from the department of gaming.

“We invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and an extraordinary amount of work to secure our mobile wagering license, which will open up considerable new opportunities for our tribe,” said Quechan President Jordan Joaquin in a release. “It is very unfortunate to see the Yavapai seek to unravel all this progress after they chose to sit on the sidelines during our compact amendment negotiations.”

Available Arizona Sports Betting Licenses

Here are the winning Arizona professional sports franchises and their sportsbook operator partnerships:

  • Arizona Coyotes (no partnership announced)
  • Phoenix Mercury (Bally’s)
  • Arizona Cardinals and Arizona Gila River casino properties (BetMGM)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (Caesars)
  • TPC Scottsdale (DraftKings)
  • Phoenix Suns (FanDuel Sportsbook)
  • Phoenix Raceway (Penn National Gaming)
  • Arizona Rattlers (Rush Street Interactive)

 

There are still two available licenses for professional sports organizations in the state.

The department received 16 qualified tribal applicants. The department awarded the 10 licenses based on a set of 19 criteria, including gaming experience and track record of the applicant. Here are the winning tribal casino applicants and their sportsbook operator partnerships:

  • Ak-Chin Indian Community (Fubo Gaming)
  • Tonto Apache Tribe (Churchill Downs)
  • San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe (Digital Gaming)
  • Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation (BetFred)
  • Hualapai Tribe (Golden Nugget)
  • Navajo Nation (no partnership announced)
  • Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (SuperBook Sports)
  • Tohono O’odham Nation (no partnership announced)
  • Quechan Tribe (Unibet Arizona)
  • San Carlos Apache Tribe (WynnBet)

 

Here are the currently licensed fantasy sports operators in the state:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • FFPC
  • Yahoo
  • Fantasy Sports Shark
  • Underdog Sports
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