Fanatics clashes with Tuscon Sugar Skulls over AZ sportsbook

Fanatics Sportsbook
Image: Fanatics Betting & Gaming

A Tuscon Indoor Football League team attempted to stop Fanatics from pursuing a sports betting license in Arizona with a tribal partner last week.

The team, the Tuscon Sugar Skulls, filed for a restraining order in Arizona court last week to prevent Fanatics Betting and Gaming from applying for one of the available sports betting licenses in the state. The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) announced earlier this year that it would once again be opening a window for applications this month.

The court dismissed the team’s request without a hearing, stating that Fanatics simply applying for a license did not represent a fundamental threat to the team’s business. However, there is room for the court to potentially revisit the issue in the future.

According to documents filed by the team, Fanatics and the Sugar Skulls had signed an agreement to pursue a sports betting license in the state last year. However, when they submitted an application during the previous period, it was declined on the grounds that the home stadium for the team failed to meet the minimum seat threshold of 10,000 mandated by regulators to be eligible for a license.

However, the Sugar Skulls allege that Fanatics submitted this application for both retail and online sports betting without clarifying with the team that it wanted a retail presence in the state. The group also alleged that if they had only pursued an online license, they would have received approval.

The contractual agreement with the team and Fanatics expired on Oct. 1 but the two parties continued good faith attempts to salvage the application.

According to the team’s complaint, they eventually communicated enough with the ADG to receive verbal approval that the application would receive a license during the next window but, by that point, Fanatics told the group it was moving on with a tribal partner.

According to court documents, Fanatics noted they were back with their “original” tribal partner that is winding down its original sports betting license, which would suggest that Fanatics is seeking to work with WynnBet’s former partner, the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

On Jan. 17, Fanatics asked the ADG to withdraw its application for a license. The following day, the team filed an objection, claiming it would cause harm to the business and alleging there was a contractual dispute between the two parties.

While the contract expired on Oct. 1, the Sugar Skulls argued that ongoing conversations and actions by Fanatics indicated an intent to pursue and continue to honor the terms of the deal, but the court was not swayed that there was anything necessary to stop Fanatics from pursuing a license with a new partner.

“We are very pleased the court denied the TRO without holding a hearing,” a Fanatics Betting and Gaming spokesperson told SBC Americas.

SBC Americas also reached out to the Tuscon Sugar Skulls for comment but has not received a response yet.