Arizona Tribal Casinos, Pro Teams Included In Sports Betting Proposal

Posted on February 5, 2021
Arizona sports betting
Posted By on February 5, 2021

Sports betting proposals have been shot down in Arizona for various reasons over the past few years, but 2021 could be different.

That’s because of two important factors.

First, Gov. Doug Ducey stated he wants legal AZ sports betting in his State of the State address. Second, Ducey told legislators he renegotiated compacts with Arizona’s gaming tribes, which were set to expire in 2022. That allows for another expansion of gaming in the addition of keno, and could indicate broader appetite for compromise.

A joint proposal in HB 2772 and SB 1797 would legalize sports betting as well as daily fantasy sports and keno.

Both have been read twice and will get committee hearings next week. Sports betting wouldn’t be allowed until those renegotiated compacts are signed and approved at the federal level.

Proposed Arizona sports betting details

The proposed legislation – called event wagering in the actual bills – states sports betting can be operated by gaming tribes on their land and by professional sports teams, NASCAR and the PGA Tour off-reservation.

There would be 20 total licenses, half for the pro sports operators and half for tribal operators. That could get some pushback considering there are 16 tribes that operate 24 casinos throughout the state.

There are also fewer than 10 professional sports operators that would qualify as an event wagering operator:

  • MLB’s Diamondbacks
  • NBA’s Suns and WNBA’s Mercury (both owned by Robert Sarver)
  • NFL’s Cardinals
  • NHL’s Coyotes
  • Phoenix Raceway
  • TPC Scottsdale

Kiosks in play as well

The stadiums, arenas, and courses associated with the above teams and leagues could also offer betting kiosks. They could also partner with one horse racing track to offer betting there as well. Their apps would be geofenced so they couldn’t operate on tribal land, however.

The bills suggest each licensee could have more than one online sports betting skin with no maximum listed. The event wagering operators could be licensed for five years while sportsbook operators would get two-year licenses.

No fees or tax rates were defined in the bills.

What kind of betting would be allowed?

The proposal specifically legalizes betting on both esports and Olympic contests. Those can sometimes be overlooked or not explicitly be allowed, causing confusion for regulators.

Betting on the outcome of college sports is allowed under the proposal, but prop betting on collegiate events is prohibited. Bettors would be allowed to wager on in-state schools.

The Arizona Department of Gaming gets the power to authorize what kind of props and parlays can be offered on pro sports.

Professional sports leagues could make out pretty well in the bill. They can request real-time betting data from operators and can also enter into agreements with licenses for n integrity fee.

Official league data would also be required if a league requested.

Other states could benefit from AZ sports betting

Arizona has five border states, three of which – Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico – all have some form of legal sports betting. It’s hopeful bettors in those other two border states of California and Utah could benefit.

Sports betting in California is a tricky issue that involves tribal gaming operators wanting sports betting for themselves. And you might have a better chance of meeting a unicorn than passing sports betting in Utah.

The fact that there’s no in-person registration mentioned in the legislation means bettors in either state would only need to cross into Arizona to legally place a bet.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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