Sports Betting In Arizona Gets Needed Push In Governor’s Address

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Arizona sports betting

Legalizing Arizona sports betting will not be a simple process but Gov. Doug Ducey wants to take the first steps.

Ducey this week addressed his desire to revamp the state’s gaming landscape in his State of the State address. That includes the possibility of AZ sports betting both on and off the state’s tribal reservations:

“There’s also an opportunity for a modernized gaming compact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget,” Ducey said.

Ducey recently negotiated toward new gaming compacts for Arizona tribes. The current 20-year agreements expire in 2022.

Arizona sports betting legislative effort

Ducey’s push could help a legislative charge that went nowhere last year despite backing from Sen. Sonny Borrelli and Rep. Steve Pierce. The legislators again introduced a bill this year to allow sports betting kiosks at bars and other locations throughout Arizona.

Launching legal sports betting in Arizona is not straightforward though. Not only would state law need to be changed and likely receive voter approval, but federal law governing tribal gaming off-reservation would need clarification.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act stipulates that tribal gaming must take place on reservation land. Proponents contend that mobile wagers actually occur at the location of the server processing the bet, rather than on the device accepting it.

Language in the Borrelli-Pierce bill wades into a gray area:

“An Indian tribe that is authorized 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.”

Ducey likely to sign sports betting bill?

C.J. Karamargin, the governor’s spokesperson, indicated in a KJZZ report that Ducey sees sports betting as part of a broader gaming expansion:

“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.”

Arizona has 22 federally recognized tribes, 16 of which operate 24 casinos in the state.