An Arizona Superior Court judge on Thursday afternoon laid out a timetable and the ground rules for hearing a lawsuit seeking to delay the proposed Sept. 9 launch of Arizona sports wagering. The case, brought by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe against both Gov. Doug Ducey and Department of Gaming chief Ted Vogt, will be heard at 9 a.m. Monday by Judge James Smith.
The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe, which was not part of the new tribal-state compacts that add sports betting and some table games to tribal offerings, filed suit late last week claiming it was excluded from getting one of 10 tribal event wagering operator licenses available, and that the new compact and law strip its exclusivity to Class III gaming. The tribe owns and operates Bucky’s Casino and the Yavapai Casino, both located about 100 miles north of Phoenix.
The ADG issued 18 licenses Aug. 27. Approved operators were able to begin signing up customers and marketing Aug. 28.
Operators poised to go live
The suit is one of two filed seeking an injunction against the planned Sept. 9 event wagering launch. Both were filed in Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County. More than a dozen sports betting operators — some partnered with professional sports teams/franchises and some partnered with tribes — are poised to launch digital or retail wagering in less than a week’s time.
Representatives from all parties were part of the virtual meeting.
Saw this one coming down 5th Ave https://t.co/ZTzPS164P8
— Victor Rocha (@VictorRocha1) August 27, 2021
Smith opened the hearing by saying that he is cognizant of the deadline associated with the case, and to that end, put the defendants on a tight timeline, requiring that briefs be filed by the end of the day Friday and the plaintiff’s reply be in his hands by 4 p.m. Sunday. Smith was also clear that he believes that his courtroom is just the first way station on what could be a longer pathway.
“I’m sure there will be an appeal” no matter what decision I make, Smith said during the virtual get together Thursday. “But I am trying to move this forward so you can move to whatever appellate court you want.”
Judge: Don’t stuff the record
Discussion about the timeline and what the defendants would deliver ahead of the hearing went relatively smoothly. It took some prodding, though, before Ducey’s counsel suggested it would have up to seven depositions for the judge to consider as part of its brief.
“Do you need all of those or are you just stuffing the record?” Smith asked.
A second lawsuit filed by TP Racing, which operates the Phoenix-area Turf Paradise racetrack, was also filed last week. The track argued in its filing that it was unfairly denied an event wagering operator’s license by the ADG. The court declined to hear the case. TP Racing is also appealing the denial to the ADG.