Yavapai Prescott Tribe’s Lawsuit Over Arizona Sports Betting Moves Closer to Resolution

Arizona Sports Betting Lawsuit by Yavapai Prescott Tribe Grinds Toward Settlement
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276 days ago, a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge dismissed the original lawsuit filed by the Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe regarding the 2021 Gaming Compact legalizing Arizona sports betting.

Over the course of eight months, legal representatives for the tribe, Gov. Doug Ducey, and Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt have been working towards a resolution through negotiations.

Since Labor Day, there have been a minimum of five extensions given to all parties involved in order to complete an amendment to the state’s gaming compact that meets federal regulations.

The county court system issued a stay on Thursday, extending the deadline for litigants to make a decision on the Department of the Interior’s ruling until July 26. The Department of the Interior must decide on the provisional compact agreed upon by YPIT, Governor’s Office, and ADG by July 22.

The Arizona betting apps lawsuit will remain on the court’s inactive calendar, according to the status report.

The Parties have mutually agreed that it is in the best interest of the case to postpone proceedings until July 22, 2022. This will allow sufficient time for the federal review and approval process of the Compact Amendments and YPIT Gaming Compact to be finalized. Given the complexity of the matters involved and the role of the U.S. Department of the Interior, this stay is deemed necessary and suitable. By agreeing to this stay, the Parties aim to facilitate a resolution in the ongoing litigation.

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The journey that led us to this moment

In late August 2021, the YPIT initiated legal action against Arizona House Bill 2772, arguing that it infringed upon the state’s Voter Protection Act and Proposition 202 by legalizing sports betting in the state. Additionally, the bill was seen as conflicting with the allowance of gaming on Indian land.

Judge James Smith threw out the initial complaint, which was submitted at the end of August, on Labor Day. In his decision, he explained that the YPIT had not effectively shown why the legal action was necessary.

The Tribe submitted an updated complaint in late September, but the Governor’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss in mid-October, citing concerns that the Tribe’s delay in filing could negatively impact the 10 Arizona tribes and eight sports teams with sports betting licenses.

Since November, the two parties have been working together on finding a resolution. By January, they had agreed on an updated timeline for the case as they approached a settlement.

The implications of Thursday’s update on the lawsuit.

Derrick Beetso, director of Arizona State University’s College of Law Indian Gaming and Self Governance Programs, stated in an email to yengols.com on Thursday that the latest update suggests that the parties are close to reaching a resolution.

Beetso confirmed that both parties are certain that the matter has been resolved. They have submitted fully signed amendments to 20 tribal compacts and a newly revised compact for the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe to the Secretary of the Interior for approval and publication in the Federal Register, as mandated by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Secretary has until July 11 to examine these documents. Consequently, the parties have asked the Court to pause the litigation and place it on hold until July 22. They have agreed to jointly file for dismissal of the litigation by July 22.

While the parties remain optimistic that a resolution will be reached by July 22, the Secretary of the Interior maintains the power to accept or deny the submitted documents. It is evident that the proposed deadlines may not be met if the Secretary chooses to reject the amendments to the tribal compacts or the revised compact for the Yavapai-Prescott Indian tribe.

Yengols.com reached out to legal counsel for the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, Governor Ducey, and Director Vogt, but did not get any replies.

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Author

Peterson Christopher

Peterson Christopher has been reporting on sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years. He has a background in journalism from ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly, and the Green Valley News. He now serves as the primary writer at yengols.com.

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