More than half the states in the US either offer legal sports betting in some form or they are moving towards the launch of betting within their borders. The remaining group of states is debating the issue through the legislative process.
Certain states in that latter group are much further along than others. It appears that you can now add Arizona to the list of states moving forward on the issue.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is a strong proponent of legal sports betting. He has worked hard to gain the support of the state’s 16 tribal casino operators. With each of those parties on the same page, the next step is to pass the necessary legislation among the state’s lawmakers.
The governor has successfully renegotiated new compacts with the various tribes. This includes provisions for sports betting through the land-based casinos as well as off the reservations through mobile sports betting apps.
In the recent past, the legislative process has not gone as smoothly as planned. Efforts fell short in 2019 and they once again stalled last year. One of the biggest road blocks was the ongoing negotiations with the tribal casinos. With that issue resolved, 2021 could be the year legal sports betting comes to the Grand Canyon State.
For more than 20 years, the compacts had given the tribes an exclusive position in the state’s casino gambling industry. Those compacts were set to expire in 2020. While a new agreement has been reached, those new terms have yet to be officially released.
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Speculation among multiple local media sources is that the tribes would maintain their exclusivity when it comes to legal sports betting.
The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act gave the tribes permission to operate casinos on their sovereign land. In order to expand that right state wide through mobile betting, the proper laws need to be put into place.
Certain states have the right to make their own gambling laws through the legislative process. Arizona would need to change its current laws and hold a public referendum to authorize any gambling outside of the tribal reservations.
A press aide for the governor, CJ Karamargin went on record as stating:
“Our goal is to bring Arizona gaming into the 21st century. A lot has changed since the first compacts were signed, back when cell phones weren’t the thing they are now. The world looks a lot different today, and our proposal is intended to reflect the way people live their lives today.”
Tribal casinos have had a major impact on Arizona’s general fund over the years. State records show that the total contribution in 2020 topped $96 million. This money is used to support education, health care, conservation, and tourism. It also supports various programs dealing with problem gambling.
Gov. Ducey has always been in favor of expanding gambling as a way to meet budgetary needs without raising taxes. He spearheaded an effort to bring legal keno to Arizona in 2018. However, issues with the tribes prevented the measure from going through.