It will not be an easy method to legalise Arizona sports betting, but Gov. Doug Ducey wants the first steps to be taken.
Gaming environment revamp
In his State of the State speech, Ducey this week discussed his intention to revamp the state’s gaming environment. That includes the chance of AZ sports betting both on and off the tribal reservations of the state.
“There’s also an opportunity for a modernised gaming compact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget,” Ducey said.
Recently, Ducey signed new gaming compacts for tribes in Arizona. In 2022, the new 20-year deals expire.
Legislative effort for Arizona sports betting
A legislative charge that went nowhere last year, despite backing from Sen. Sonny Borrelli and Rep. Steve Pierce, could aid Ducey’s effort. This year, lawmakers again introduced a bill to allow sports betting kiosks in bars and other locations throughout Arizona.
But it is not easy to launch legal sports betting in Arizona. Not only would it be appropriate to amend state law and potentially obtain voter approval, but clarification would be required by federal law regulating tribal gaming off-reservation.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act stipulates that tribal gaming on reservation land must take place. Proponents contend that mobile wagers actually take place at the place where the bet is processed by the server, rather than on the unit that accepts it.
The Borrelli-Pierce bill jargon wades into a grey area: “An Indian tribe that is authorised to operate sports betting pursuant to this section may operate sports betting through kiosks or similar machines that are located at one or more premises that have a bar license, a beer and wine bar license or a private club license that is issued pursuant title 4 and may enter into a lease or rental agreement for the purpose of operating sports betting with a person that holds a bar license, a beer and wine bar license or a private club license.”
Wider expansion of gaming
In a KJZZ article, J.C. Karamargin, the governor’s spokesperson, suggested that Ducey sees sports betting as part of a wider expansion of gaming: “Our goal is to bring Arizona gaming into the 21st century,” Karamargin said. “A lot has changed since the first compacts were signed, back when cellphones weren’t the thing they are now. The world looks a lot different today and our proposal is intended to reflect the way people live their lives today.”
There are 22 federally recognized tribes in Arizona, 16 of which in the state run 24 casinos.