Judge Refuses to Block Law Allowing Sports Betting in Arizona

On Monday, Maricopa County Superior Court judge refused to block a new Arizona law allowing sports gambling to be run by professional sports teams in a decision that will allow the major gambling expansion start as planned later this week.

Judge James Smith refused to issue an injunction barring sports betting from starting Thursday. The ruling came just hours after he held an unusual Labor Day hearing on the request filed by a Native American tribe.

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe wanted the new law, which allows professional sports teams and select tribes to get licenses to run sports gambling, declared unconstitutional. The tribe argued it violates the state’s Voter Protection Act by illegally amending the 2002 voter initiative that authorized tribal gambling in Arizona by allowing non-tribal groups to have gambling operations without asking voters to weigh in. Proposition 202 restricted gambling outside tribal reservations.

But Smith ruled that Proposition 202 regulated the types of gambling allowed at tribal casinos, not other types of betting.

“Plaintiff did not cite language from the proposition indicating that Arizona would never expand gambling to different activities or locations,” Smith wrote. “What is more, the proposition contemplated gambling expansions.”

The judge rejected several other arguments the tribe made in seeking to have the new sports betting law declared unconstitutional.


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