Arizona Sports Betting Bill Cleanly Clears House Hurdle

Posted on March 4, 2021
Written By on March 4, 2021

Arizona sports betting legislation appears to be coming to a head.

The Arizona House voted to pass HB 2772, 48-12. The bill now heads to the Senate as the most likely AZ sports betting legislation to make it all the way to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.

In February, the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee merged the chamber’s sports betting ambitions with SB 1794, a bill poised to allow historic horse racing. It awaits a full chamber vote but remains an unlikely proposition.

A smooth Arizona sports betting journey?

As Arizona looks to tap into a sports betting market that could generate up to an estimated $42 million in taxes, the House has provided a cleaner route to legalization than the Senate.

The bill allows for 10 licenses tied to professional sports organizations and another 10 licenses to the state’s gaming tribes. The bill also legalizes daily fantasy sports.

The House bill received only scant opposition centered on data privacy in committees. Also among opponents were sports bars and restaurants who complained about missing out on potential revenue.

Arizona tribal support

The Arizona sports betting bills started as larger pieces necessary to enact a new gaming compact negotiated between Ducey and the tribes.

During hearings on the bills, questions were raised on how and if tribes support the broader AZ sports betting legalization. Several tribal leaders spoke in support of the bills throughout the process.

Explaining her “aye” vote, Rep. Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren reiterated the support tribes issued for HB 2772:

“They rely on gaming facilities and provide jobs and basic services,” Blackwater-Nygren said. “Tribes do not have the same access to the same tax base as towns and counties. This bill provides another way for tribes to raise gaming revenues.”

The Senate route became contentious regarding tribal support as some suggested the historic horse racing practice violates a previous 2002 gaming agreement with tribes. The HHR bill passed 5-4 through the Appropriations Committee after the sports betting bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee, 6-3.

Still two routes alive in Arizona

With the Senate bill potentially enacting a “poison pill” because of its HHR base, that route doesn’t seem likely.

The Senate could approve the bill stripped of the HHR provisions to regain tribal and broader political support.

With the House bill now on the way to the Senate, it still appears to be the cleanest option to legalize sports betting in Arizona this year.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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