ARIZONA NEWS

Judge refuses to block new law allowing sports betting in Arizona

Sep 6, 2021, 5:00 PM | Updated: 6:19 pm
FILE - In this April 15, 2021, file photo, surrounded by Arizona legislators, Republican Arizona Go...

FILE - In this April 15, 2021, file photo, surrounded by Arizona legislators, Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at a bill signing allowing a major expansion of sports betting in Arizona at an event at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. Arizona's move to allow sport gambling outside of tribal casinos was in the hands of a judge Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, as he mulled a challenge to the new law brought by one Native American tribe against Ducey and the head of the state Gaming Department. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith held an unusual Labor Day hearing on the request to block the law that allows sports betting and fantasy sports gambling for the first time in Arizona. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — A judge on Monday evening 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.

Maricopa County Superior Court 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 one Native American tribe.

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe wanted the law, which allows professional sports teams and select tribes to get licenses to run sports gambling, declared unconstitutional. They 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 wrote that Proposition 202 regulated the types of gambling allowed at tribal casinos, not other kinds 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 also rejected several other arguments the tribe made in seeking to have the new sports betting law declared unconstitutional.

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Judge refuses to block new law allowing sports betting in Arizona