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Arizona House and Senate Bills Legalizing Sports Betting Mark Progress

— May 4, 2021

According to betting industry statistics, Americans place billions of dollars worth of bets on sports each month alone. Making it legal could really increase state revenue for Arizona.

Dare to imagine making legal sports bets on games inside Gila River Arena, State Farm Stadium, or at Chase Field. This scenario isn’t fiction, and could soon be a reality according to several new bills that are currently on the senate and house floor in Arizona. 

Across the United States, state legislators seem to be becoming more friendly to the idea of legalized betting in their states. This can be seen in many of the new sportsbooks and online casino offerings that have popped up on the east coast as regulations and restrictions have lessened.  

Current bills

Two bills are currently making their way through the Arizona legislature that would allow adults, 21 and older, to place bets on major sports teams in the state as well as legalize online fantasy sports betting on platforms like FanDuel and DraftKings.

Introduced by Representative Jeff Weninger, HB 2772 aims to legalize sports betting for Arizonans to bet on professional and college sports at tribal casinos and at sites owned by major league sports teams. “It helps with the engagement of the game and with the teams here,” said Rep. Weninger, chair of the House Commerce Committee. “If people are making bets, it helps our revenue in the state and helps businesses in the state with people going out to bars and restaurants.” 

SB 1797, introduced by Senators Thomas Shope and Sonny Borrelli, just passed the Senate Commerce Committee 6-3 and will soon be put before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Each of these bills, if passed, would allow for the major sports teams of Arizona like the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks to receive up to 10 licenses to run sportsbooks in the state.

If these measures are passed, they would collectively provide for: 

  • Sportsbooks to be set up in or near some sports stadiums, racetracks, and golf courses 
  • Arizona to join 43 other states that allow daily fantasy league betting through online platforms like Draft Kings and FanDuel
  • Mobile and online sports betting through licensed platforms like BetMGM
  • The installation of electronic keno games at some fraternal and veterans’ organizations 
  • Indian tribes to operate fantasy sports betting and event wagering through mobile platforms available for off-reservation use

This all comes after Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, publicly encouraged state legislators to pursue a new “modernized” tribal gaming compact, permitting online and fantasy sports betting, as well as Keno games at certain off-track locations like social clubs.

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The current climate and the actions of the representatives and voters have proven that this new modernized outlook on gaming and sports betting is exactly what the people want. Passing any kind of legislation, however, is a lengthy process and nothing is truly set in stone until it’s ratified into law. 

As it stands

About 20 states in the US currently allow sports betting but no legal status exists for playing at online casinos in Arizona, but there are expectations that this will become the reality as the regulation bus is moving across the states. These current bills, if passed, would reverse the standards set by the Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compacts in 2002.

The Tribal-State Compacts were passed in 2002 and allowed tribal casinos with a maximum of 20,500 slot machines to operate in the state. It allows tribes to allocate that number across the state between the various tribes to share the revenue among them and gives provisions for card games and other standard casino games. 

It can be renewed in 2022 for another 10 years but it makes no provisions for sports betting. If Arizonans are going to place bets at Chase Field in the next few years, then the compact will not only have to be renewed but amended to include the upcoming legislation.

The future of gambling in Arizona

Tribal casinos have been at the center of the entertainment industry for Arizona for quite some time. They’ve offered indoor and outdoor entertainment to beat the heat for years now and it’s looking like they will continue to expand their reach even further. 

This is all positive news for both sports and gambling fans in the state of Arizona and could be great news for the Arizona treasury. According to betting industry statistics, Americans place billions of dollars worth of bets on sports each month alone. Making it legal could really increase state revenue for Arizona.

It’ll be interesting to watch the progress of these bills as they progress through the different committees, but it’s safe to say that they’ll follow suit in a similar fashion to their east coast counterparts like Illinois, where sports betting became legal in 2020, and will soon be expanding their operations and offerings to the public. 

When the public demands it, it’s just a matter of time. 

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