New Arizona Sports Betting Bill Could Increase Tribal Licenses

Written By Pat Evans on February 4, 2022
Arizona sports betting

A new bill in the Arizona Senate could increase the number of mobile sports betting licenses in the state.

Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales introduced SB 1674 Monday, which would more than double the number of AZ sports betting licenses available to the state’s tribal nations. The bill would increase the number of tribal licenses from 10 to 22, one for each of the state’s tribes.

“I’m trying again because the tribes had to compete for the 10 licenses and not the major leaguers,” Gonzales, a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council, told LSR. “I had it as an amendment last year and it failed.

“It’s just so one-sided. My tribe didn’t get a license, so they’re out of a license and, evidently, according to what I hear, not ever going to get a license.”

The bill was assigned to Commerce and Rules committees. Gonzales said she will begin talking to tribes and other legislators about the bill beginning next week.

AZ sports betting licenses awarded

In the original Arizona sports betting legislation passed in spring 2021, both the state’s professional sports organizations and tribes each received 10 licenses. Sports betting in the state began September 2021, taking more than $1.2 billion in the first three months.

The Arizona Department of Gaming awarded all 10 of the tribal licenses available. There are still two licenses available to professional sports organizations.

The tribes that received licenses:

  • San Carlos Apache Tribe (WynnBet)
  • Quechan Tribe (Unibet)
  • Tonto Apache Tribe (TwinSpires)
  • Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (SuperBook)
  • Hualapai Tribe (Golden Nugget)
  • Ak-Chin Indian Community (Fubo Gaming)
  • San Juan Southern Palute Tribe (Betway)
  • Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation (Betfred)
  • Tohono O’odham Nation (Desert Diamond)
  • Navajo Nation (Hard Rock Sportsbook)

Sportsbook partners left out of Arizona

If passed, the new licenses could renew hope for several sportsbooks left out of the initial launch. Six tribal applicants were left out, including:

There are 16 gaming tribes in the state operating 24 gaming facilities, according to the ADG.

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe filed a lawsuit against the state and ADG for being left out of the gaming expansion. The two sides are working on a settlement. Unlike other tribes in the state, the Yavapai-Prescott did not participate in the new compact negotiations that led to mobile Arizona sportsbooks.

Retail sports betting expansion?

Any tribe can operate sportsbooks at tribal casinos on reservations without state approval.

Gonzales’ bill also would allow the tribes to open sportsbooks off their reservations. That could raise other questions about federal law under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA.)

Professional sports organizations already can open retail sportsbooks, like the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix.

New professional license applicant?

The ADG awarded eight of the 10 available licenses for professional sports organizations:

  • NBA‘s Phoenix Suns (FanDuel)
  • WNBA‘s Phoenix Mercury (Bally Bet)
  • Phoenix Raceway (Barstool Sportsbook)
  • NFL‘s Arizona Cardinals (BetMGM)
  • NHL‘s Arizona Coyotes (SaharaBets)
  • MLB‘s Arizona Diamondbacks (Caesars Sportsbook)
  • Indoor Football League‘s Arizona Rattlers (BetRivers)
  • TPC Scottsdale (DraftKings)

With two licenses left, those could go to future teams located in Arizona. Smaller existing professional teams could also apply.

The Tucson Sugar Skulls, a professional indoor soccer team, could be eligible after the city of Tucson upgraded the team’s venue to seat more than the required 10,000 spectators, according to KOLD News 13.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Grand Rapids, Michigan-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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