Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe, State Nearing Settlement in Arizona Sports Betting Lawsuit

Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe, State Nearing Settlement in Arizona Sports Betting Lawsuit
By Christopher Boan
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

The Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe is one step closer to a resolution in its longstanding Arizona sports betting lawsuit.

In the case's latest update, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on March 29, lawyers representing Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey stated both sides have made concrete steps towards resolution of the case but need more time to get everything settled.

In late February, lawyers for the two sides filed a motion that said they had reached an agreement in principle on a settlement, but needed more time to obtain final approval.

The additional time is needed to ensure whatever changes are made to the state’s gaming compact receive approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior, which takes 45 days to review and approve such changes.

“The parties believe a 60-day stay is necessary and reasonable in the context of this case, particularly given the complexity of the issues presented, and the necessary involvement of the U.S. Department of the Interior,” the motion reads. “The proposed stay should hopefully allow the parties the additional time needed to finalize a resolution of the pending litigation.”

What the Latest Lawsuit Update Means

Derrick Beetso, the director of Arizona State University’s College of Law Indian Gaming and Self Governance Programs, said in an email to BetArizona.com the latest update in the tribal gambling lawsuit is a procedural one, allowing both sides time to square their settlement with the federal government.

Beetso said he hopes that the request for an extension means both sides are nearing a resolution in the matter, some eight months after the suit surrounding new Arizona sports betting apps initially was brought before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith.

"The parties' stipulated motion requests a stay of the litigation to allow time for the necessary state, tribal, and federal government approvals of their agreement in principle,” Beetso said in the email. “This is good news and indicates that this issue may be resolved between the parties and that such resolution includes an amendment of the tribal-state compact which must be approved by the Department of the Interior and published in the Federal Register. Those approvals take time, but the parties seem to believe 60 days is sufficient for those purposes. In sum, the parties seek to resolve this litigation and remove it from the court's docket by May 31, 2022.”

HOW WE GOT TO THIS POINT

This litigation was brought by the YPIT in late August 2021. The suit argued Arizona House Bill 2772, which legalized sports betting in the state, violated the state’s Voter Protection Act and Proposition 202, which legalized gaming on Indian land.

The initial complaint, filed in late August, was dismissed on Labor Day by Judge Smith, who said in his ruling the YPIT did not show why the legal action was necessary.

The Tribe filed an amended complaint in late September. The Governor’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss in mid-October, arguing the Tribe waited too long to file its complaint, and its actions could have dire consequences for the 10 Arizona tribes and eight sports teams that had received sports betting licenses.

The two sides have been working on a settlement since November. In January, the sides agreed to an updated timeline for the case as they closed in on a settlement.

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Christopher Boan is the lead writer at BetArizona.com after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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