Arizona Sports Betting and Gaming Expansion Package Introduced

Posted on: February 2, 2021, 04:03h.

Last updated on: February 2, 2021, 04:46h.

Arizona is one step closer to joining 20 other states, plus DC, in regulating sports betting.

Arizona sports betting gaming expansion
Arizona sports betting gaming expansion
In the near future, State Farm Stadium, home to the Arizona Cardinals, the annual Fiesta Bowl, and 2023 Super Bowl, could offer sports betting. New legislation in the state seeks to greatly expand gambling. (Image: Getty)

State Rep. Jeff Weninger (R-Chandler), along with nine cosponsors, introduced House Bill 2772 this week. The legislation seeks to greatly overhaul gambling in Arizona.

The bill’s main component is sports betting. HB 2772 would allow the state’s federally recognized tribes that operate tribal casinos to add sports betting to its gaming repertoire. Along with brick-and-mortar retail sportsbooks, the tribes would be allowed to facilitate wagers online.

However, Arizona’s 16 gaming tribes would not maintain a monopoly on sports betting, as they presently do with slot machines and table games. HB 2772 would allow professional sports teams in the state to also get in on the sports betting game.

As many as 10 sports betting licenses would be available to commercial sports entities. Arizona is home to the MLB Diamondbacks, NBA Phoenix Suns, NFL Cardinals, NHL Coyotes, and WNBA Phoenix Mercury. Other pro sports leagues, for example the PGA Tour and NASCAR, would qualify to acquire sports betting licenses, since they hold annual events in the state.

The teams and leagues would be allowed to incorporate sportsbooks into their stadiums and venues, or at a nearby standalone retail site. The team sportsbooks would additionally be permitted to take mobile wagers.

Weninger’s legislation would require the Arizona Department of Gaming to determine licensing fees, renewal rates, and the tax rate levied on gross gaming revenue generated by sports betting.

HR 2772 would additionally authorize the Arizona Department of Gaming to issue fantasy sports licenses to qualified applicants, and define regulatory guidelines and fees. Finally, HR 2772 seeks to allow off-track betting locations and social clubs to offer Keno games.

Tribal Gaming Compact Renewals

Arizona’s gaming compacts with the 16 tribes are set to expire next year. In negotiating new terms with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), the tribes have expressed their intent to retain their monopoly on casino gambling. However, earlier this month, the tribes said they would support allowing the sports teams and leagues to conduct sports betting, too.

In exchange, the tribes can offer new table games, including craps and baccarat. The Indian casinos currently offer most other traditional table games found in Las Vegas, including blackjack and roulette.

[The negotiations are] an opportunity for a modernized gaming compact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget,” the governor said in his State of the State address last month.

Along with more games, Ducey has endorsed allowing the tribes to build new casinos on non-sovereign land.

Full-Scale Gaming in Arizona

State lawmakers who are supportive of the gaming expansion undertaking say it will keep more people from traveling to bordering Nevada to gamble. Phoenix, the state’s largest city, is a roughly four-and-a-half-hour drive from Las Vegas.

“Obviously, the allure of Vegas is always going to be there,” Sen. T.J. Shope (R-Coolidge) told Capitol Media Services. “I, myself, go a handful of times a year.”

Along with keeping Arizonans in the state to gamble, Shope opined that Phoenix will become an even more attractive destination for sports fans.

“For that person who is interested in doing something in the evening when the ballgame’s over, they’re going to be able to go ahead and have that option,” Shope stated.

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