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Appeal planned in Arizona gaming measure

Nov. 23, 2002 at 4:14 PM   |   Comments

PHOENIX, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Arizona's racetrack industry has vowed to continue efforts to block a ballot measure that allows the state and Indian casinos to enter into agreements they say would allow the tribes to cut into their profits.

A trio of racing organizations planned to appeal a Maricopa County Superior Court ruling that rejected their request to block the governor from signing any new agreements with the casinos under the terms of Proposition 202, the Arizona Republic said Saturday.

"We need a legal determination above the lawmaking capacity of the voters," Track spokeswoman Amy Rezzonico told the Republic.

Judge Robert Myers had been asked by American Greyhound Racing Inc., Western Racing Inc., and T.P. Racing to issue an injunction blocking Gov. Jane Dee Hull from signing agreements known as compacts on behalf of the state with any of the state's tribal casinos. The racing industry argued that compacts signed under Prop 202 would give the tribes an unconstitutional monopoly that would cost the states racing industry at least $26 million per year.

Prop 202, which was passed Nov. 5 by barely 50 percent of the vote, gives the governor the authority to enter into compacts that allow tribes to operate up to four casinos with as many as 100 card tables and 1,400 slot machines. In return, the state gets a cut of 1-8 percent of each tribe's handle to help pay for education, environmental projects and other state programs for the general population.

Myers decided.

Critics, however, argued the measure granted the tribes a "monopoly" on gaming in Arizona.

"We've asked to level the playing field and that hasn't happened," said Rezzonico.

The tracks challenged the measure on the grounds that Hull did not have the authority to sign any agreements unless they were first approved by the Legislature. They also told Myers that Prop 202 opened the door to the establishment of off-track betting at the Indian casinos while cutting the racing industry out.

Myers, however, determined that the tracks did not present any compelling information that would justify an injunction and were likely fighting a lost cause.

"This court determines that the plaintiffs do not have a reasonable likelihood of success and both the balance of hardships and the public interest do not rise to the level required for injunctive relief," Myers said in a brief written decision issued Friday. "Furthermore, not only are Arizona's Indian tribes indispensable parties to this litigation but the passage of Proposition 202 by the Arizona voters has obviated many, if not all, of plaintiffs' substantive arguments,"

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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