Lawyers representing Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey filed a motion Monday to dismiss the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe’s lawsuit seeking to shut down sports betting in Arizona, a motion one state legal expert thinks could be successful.
The motion argues the Tribe, which filed its original lawsuit Aug. 27, 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 Arizona sports betting licensure.
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 the Governor’s motion has a real shot at being granted by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith.
“Judge Smith will now review this motion and any response from the Tribe's attorney before making a determination on whether to dismiss the matter altogether,” Beetso said in his email. “Tellingly, Judge Smith has already denied the Tribe's earlier attempt to stop the state law at issue from taking effect, so the Tribe finds itself needing to bolster its legal arguments here in order to keep this litigation moving forward."
The YPIT’s original lawsuit was filed in late August. Judge Smith ruled against allowing a temporary restraining order to stop the rollout of sports betting on Labor Day. The Tribe filed an amended complaint in late September.
A Look at Monday’s Motion
The legal team representing the Governor drew on Judge Smith’s Labor Day ruling in making the case to dismiss the YPIT’s amended complaint.
“The court already determined that YPIT was unlikely to succeed on its claims, after identifying many legal defects with those claims,” Monday’s motion to dismiss reads in reference to the Labor Day ruling. “YPIT now takes a different approach: Arguing that the Governor somehow singled out YPIT for disparate treatment in the negotiation of the 2021 Amended and Restated Gaming Compact (the “2021 Compact Amendments”).
“The FAC continues, however, to seek to enjoin or invalidate H.B. 2772, not the 2021 Compact Amendments. YPIT’s new allegations, fatally, do not solve the structural issues with YPIT’s claims against H.B. 2772 that this Court already identified.”
According to Beetso, the motion to dismiss centers around the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe failing to distinguish how its claim can be solved via litigation, given its suit focuses on Arizona House Bill 2772, and not the 2021 gaming compact.
“Ducey's motion generally states that the Tribe has failed to establish a legal claim that is redressable by the Court, and also points out the various interests at stake, such as the interests of the 20 Arizona tribes that have entered into the 2021 amended gaming compact – half of which have received the benefit of a license to participate in sports betting within the State,” Beetso said.
Where the Case Goes from Here
On Tuesday morning, Smith sent an order to lawyers representing Gov. Ducey and the tribe, telling both sides to convene within the next 10 days and come up with a schedule for future briefings on any future motions or pleadings.
Currently, there are no future court dates on the Maricopa Court Superior Court docket relating to the case.