Lawmakers have explored Arizona sports betting legislation over the past two years but haven’t made any progress toward passing a bill.
Read on for more about the prospects for legal sports betting in Arizona.
The future of Arizona sports betting
The Arizona gambling industry is largely comprised of 22 federally recognized Indian tribes, 16 of which operate 24 casinos in the state.
Sports betting legislation in Arizona could move quickly once tribes and state officials are on the same page on how to conduct sports betting. That did not happen in 2020.
In addition to their casinos, Arizona tribes would like to place sports betting kiosks at bars around the state. This would require federal approval to offer wagering outside their reservations.
When will online sports betting launch in Arizona?
It could be a while. When legal Arizona sports betting launches, it is likely to be without an online or mobile option.
Arizona Indian tribes aren’t on board with online wagering at the moment. The legality for tribes to offer betting statewide could need federal clarification.
Recent Arizona sports betting news
Legal sports betting options in Arizona
Aside from betting on horse racing, there are no legal sportsbook websites that accept bets from people in Arizona.
Offshore websites offering sports betting in Arizona do so illegally. They do not hold a license from any US jurisdiction and cannot legally accept bets from residents.
These offshore betting apps and websites, which lack regulation from the state, can’t be counted on to pay out winnings. The risk is all on the consumer.
The only safe and protected way to bet on sports in the United States is through a licensed operator.
Most popular sports to bet on in Arizona
The Grand Canyon State is also pretty grand when it comes to sporting events. Arizona has one team in each of the four major professional sports, plus one of the most successful collegiate basketball programs on the West Coast.
The professional teams might not have the long history of those in other states, but they’ve all had their moments.
NFL betting in Arizona
The Arizona Cardinals haven’t exactly been the most successful team in the NFL since moving to the state in 1988, making just one Super Bowl in 2008. Arizona residents have flocked to the games anyway.
Football is the most popular sport for betting in the US. The Cardinals figure to generate a lot of excitement in coming years with a high-powered offense led by 2019 NFL Draft top pick Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins.
NBA betting in Arizona
The Phoenix Suns are the longest-standing major professional team in Arizona, founded in 1968. Although they have never won an NBA Championship, the Suns were perennial contenders in the ’90s with Charles Barkley, and again the next decade behind Steve Nash.
A long drought followed, with the Suns on their way to missing the playoffs for a 10th consecutive year in 2019-20. However, the team appears to be on the upswing with All-Star guard Devin Booker and 2018 NBA Draft top overall pick DeAndre Ayton.
MLB betting in Arizona
The Arizona Diamondbacks are the newest team in town, joining Major League Baseball in 1998. They’re also the only professional team in the state to win a title, taking the World Series crown in 2001.
Adding to baseball’s popularity in Arizona, Cactus League baseball arrives every March as nearly half of the sport takes part in Spring Training in the valley.
NHL betting in Arizona
Sweltering Phoenix wouldn’t seem like a natural ice hockey town, and not even a stint as coach and part-owner by The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, could make it so.
The Arizona Coyotes have one division title since moving to the state in 1996. The Coyotes were trying to make their first NHL playoffs in eight years when the coronavirus stopped play in 2020.
NCAA betting in Arizona
The most ravenous fans in all of Arizona can be found at the McKale Center cheering on the Arizona Wildcats in men’s basketball.
They are the one sports team in Arizona with a long and rich history, winning the NCAA Tournament in 1997 and making the Final Four a total of six times. Arizona State is on the rise with consecutive top-3 finishes in the Pac-12.
Given the popularity of Arizona Wildcats basketball with bettors in Arizona, lawmakers would be wise to allow for legal betting on in-state collegiate teams.
Arizona and Daily Fantasy Sports
While daily fantasy sports operate in a gray area in many states, the law in Arizona is stricter.
Because Arizona considers fantasy sports to be illegal as games of chance that would operate outside of tribal casinos, Arizona is one of only seven states not served by the major daily fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel.
Is horse racing legal in Arizona?
Yes, Parimutuel wagering has been legal in Arizona since 1935.
Arizona has three racetracks and two county fairs that offer racing. Turf Paradise in Phoenix is one of the longest-running meets in the country, typically beginning in October and going into May.
There’s also Arizona Downs and Rillito Park. Arizona also has off-track betting parlors located in bars and restaurants around the state. The industry is regulated by the Arizona Department of Racing.
There’s an effort in the House to support the struggling tracks by allowing them to offer historic racing, essentially turning them into racinos, and have sportsbooks.
Arizona sports betting timeline
The federal legality of the Senate bill came under question for allowing the Arizona tribes to operate sports betting kiosks in off-reservation facilities. It once again didn’t move past second reading.
The House Appropriations Committee narrowly passed the House bill in late February. It then advanced through the House Rules Committee in March but was never brought up on the House floor.
Sen. Sonny Borrelli and Rep. Steve Pierce introduced legislation to legalize sports betting in Arizona.
The House bill would legalize sports betting at tribal casinos, racetracks and commercially at “additional wagering facilities.” The bill drew opposition from Arizona Indian tribes.
The Senate bill limited sports betting to the tribal casinos while allowing tribes to place sports betting kiosks at bars around the state. Neither bill permitted mobile wagering. The bills found no momentum.
Arizona sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Arizona?
No. There are no legal options for sports betting in Arizona. That could change in the future, as state legislators have pursued legalizing wagering.
Who would oversee sports betting in Arizona?
The Arizona Department of Gaming monitors tribal gaming activities in the state in accordance with the Arizona tribal-state gaming compacts.
Will mobile AZ sports betting be allowed?
Probably not, at least not initially. Both bills considered by the legislature in 2020 did not include a mobile option.
There are some sports betting websites that say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?
No. Any website that suggests betting from anywhere in the US is allowed is a website that operators offshore. It is not legal for those sites to accept bets from US citizens. Those sites offer no protection to consumers. There are currently no sportsbook operators licensed at the federal level. All US sportsbooks are licensed at the state level.