An ongoing lawsuit seeking to overturn the legalization of sports betting in Arizona by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe took another step late last week.
In an entry filed Friday, Judge James Smith asked lawyers representing Gov. Doug Ducey to clarify why his office is allowing two Arizona-based tribes to intervene on behalf of the state.
The lawsuit -- originally filed by the YPIT in Maricopa County Superior Court on Aug. 27 -- seeks to have Arizona House Bill 2772, which legalized Arizona sportsbooks and betting apps, and the subsequent 2021 gaming compact ruled unconstitutional on the grounds it violated Proposition 202. Prop 202 legalized gambling on tribal land.
The tribe’s initial complaint was thrown out by Judge Smith on Labor Day, with Smith saying the tribe’s suit lacked merit.
What’s New with the Lawsuit?
On Oct. 18, lawyers representing Ducey filed a motion to dismiss the YPIT lawsuit, arguing the Tribe waited too long to file its complaint, and that its actions could have dire consequences for the 10 Arizona tribes and eight sports teams that have received licenses.
In Friday’s filing, the judge requested that the governor’s lawyers answer a series of questions about a motion to intervene in the case filed by the Tonto Apache Tribe of Arizona and the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation.
Questions revolve around the state’s justification for allowing the two tribes to intervene on the Governor’s behalf.
Judge Smith’s first question asks, “Does the Governor believe that he cannot adequately represent these Tribes’ interest here? If so, why? Please specifically identify how the Governor’s and Tribes’ position about Proposition 202, H.B. 2772, and the amended compacts may diverge.”
What the Latest Filing Means
Derrick Beetso, who serves as director of Arizona State University’s College of Law Indian Gaming and Self Governance Programs, said in an email to BetArizona.com that Smith’s questionnaire is mainly aimed at determining why Ducey’s office doesn’t believe it can represent itself without intervention.
“What the court is generally doing is seeing whether the tribes requesting to intervene would serve a necessary role in determining the outcome of the matter,” Beetso’s email said. “Since they would intervene on the Governor's side of the 'v,' the court is particularly interested in whether the Governor's office feels like it could adequately represent their interests without their intervention. If so, then that would cut against intervention.”
Beetso added that Smith’s entry also seeks to determine if the intervening tribes are necessary to determine whether the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe’s amended complaint should be heard in court.
“They are also asking questions about whether the tribes are indispensable parties, such that a holding by the court without their participation would be unjust or not possible,” Beetso added.
Ducey’s office has until Nov. 1 to file a supplemental brief with the court, at which point Smith will determine whether the amended suit will be heard.