PHOENIX, Arizona: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith this week refused to block a new Arizona law allowing professional sports teams to run sports gambling operations.
The ruling came just hours after an unusual Labor Day hearing on a request filed by the Native American tribe, the Yavapai-Prescott.
The tribe, which wanted the law to be declared unconstitutional, argued that it violates Arizona's Voter Protection Act by allowing non-tribal groups to run gambling operations without the approval of voters, adding Proposition 202 restricted gambling outside tribal reservations.
Proposition 202 only regulates gambling allowed in tribal casinos and not other forms of betting, Smith countered, stating, "Plaintiff did not cite language from the proposition indicating that Arizona would never expand gambling to different activities or locations," as quoted by Reuters.
"Today's ruling is not just a win in court, but a win for Arizona," said C.J. Karamargin, spokesperson for Gov. Doug Ducey.
The tribe also argued that the law is unfair because it allocated only 10 licenses allowing tribes to run online sports betting operations, while 10 licenses were given to professional teams to run sports betting at both their stadiums and online.
But state lawyers claimed the tribe wrongly interpreted the law and waited too long to file a restraining order.
This delay in filing negatively affected the tribe's lawsuit, Smith agreed, noting that the legislation was signed in April, as well as updated tribal gaming compacts signed by most of Arizona's 22 tribes.
He also rejected the "speculative" argument that the new law will harm the tribe's revenues.
However, the tribe contends the new law will discourage gamblers from going to their two casinos in Prescott, some 100 miles north of Phoenix, as the professional teams issued state licenses, including all major sports franchises and NASCAR, are based in the metro Phoenix area.
After five years of negotiations, Ducey and most of Arizona's 22 tribes, except the Yavapai-Prescott, signed new tribal gaming compacts that considerably expanded their exclusive gambling offerings.