While Arizona has a rich gambling history and there are many tribal casinos in the state sports betting is currently not legal as of June 2019. However, there have been proposed sports betting bills in the House and Senate.
They were introduced after the May 2018 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which made it legal to bet on sports, but on a state-by-state basis.
There have been several states that have already legalized sports betting, but as of June 2019 Arizona is not one of those states. However, with the money that will be gained from legal sports betting it is only a matter of time before Arizona has legal sports betting.
Arizona Sports Betting Status
The major hurdle between sports betting being legal in Arizona has come down to the tribes that own the casinos in the state. There are 26 tribal run casinos in the state, 34 overall, and while some have been cold to the idea of legal sports betting others are warming to it. The big issue for the casinos is that they believe that legal sports betting will take business away from their land-based casinos and this is especially the case with mobile applications.
Even though the casinos would want sportsbooks in their casinos to make bets most of the business from sports betting in the state would likely come from mobile applications. For example, New Jersey was on the forefront in legalizing sports betting and in a report from the state, in terms of taking in sports wagers, 80% of the bets were made on mobile devices.
There have also been rumblings of who would run the sports betting in Arizona and who would receive the lion’s share of the profits. Like the states that have legalized sports betting that has also been a big issue.
For example, Maine legalized sports gambling in June of 2019 with the department that runs the lottery running the sports betting with mobile bets having a tax of 16% and land-based bets having a tax of 10%. If the state runs the sports betting industry, they will receive most of the tax dollars, but if the casinos run it, they will get most of the money with the state only getting the taxes for sports betting through the casinos.
SB 1158 was introduced in Arizona on January 23rdof 2019 and that bill would give exclusive gaming rights to the tribes in the state and this has, obviously, faced resistance from lawmakers, as it would drastically cut down the funds that would be gained by the state government.
Arizona Senate Bill 1163 also has faced opposition from tribes in the state even though the bill would have allowed the tribes to form a partnership with bars and organizations holding alcohol licenses to set up kiosks for legal sports betting.
However, while all bets would have a flat tax of 6.75% most of the tribes, with the exception of the biggest in the Navaho Nation, opposed the bill, as they believe it still took money away from their land-based casinos. The tribes also concerned that features in the bill should also be in discussions in dealing with compact renegotiation between them and the office of the Arizona Governor.
Vice-Chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation stated that the tribe, “supports legal sports betting in the state of Arizona but that Senate Bill 1163 is not the appropriate mechanism for such legislation.” Still, there has been talk in the state of legalizing sports betting and in a late May 2019 ESPN article Arizona was put on the “Moving Towards Legislation” list.
Also, Arizona has many teams that would drive sports betting being represented by all four major leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL), as well as major college sports programs at Arizona and Arizona State universities.
Where to Bet on Sports in Arizona
With 34 casinos throughout the state of Arizona, 26 of which are tribal casinos, there are a lot of places to bet on sports if sportsbooks were available there. However, as stated before, like many other states, most sports wagers would be made from mobile devices.
One of the bills introduced that did not go to committee also had language that there would be special sports betting kiosks at bars and other establishments that sold liquor, as they would be a partner of the tribes in taking in money from the sports betting industry.
With mobile betting and the many casinos in the state, as well as of there were kiosks at bars and establishments that held liquor licenses, you can see that there would be no lack of places to make sports bets in Arizona.
However, the tribes in the state and the state government have to find a middle ground to come to a mutually beneficial decision for both. With the amount of money that would be generated by the legalization of sports betting in Arizona it is only a matter of time before it is legal in the Copper State.