Sports betting could be coming to Arizona after legislation was introduced that would significantly expand the state’s gambling sector and allow wagering from major sports venues.
Under HB 2772, introduced by Rep Jeff Weninger, Arizonans would be allowed to bet on professional and college sports at tribal casinos and at sites owned by major league sports teams.
The legislation, which comes soon after Governor Doug Ducey urged state legislators to pursue a new “modernised” tribal gaming compact, would allow online and fantasy sports wagering, and add limited Keno games at off-track betting locations and social clubs.
At present, gambling is restricted to 24 tribal casinos within the state under the terms of the Tribal-State Gaming Compact passed in 2002.
The most eye-catching part of the bill is the inclusion of provision for 10 licences to be obtained by major league sports teams like the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, as well as PGA Tour golf events and the Phoenix Raceway motorsport track.
They would be able to run sports betting operations, and bring in gaming partners, at their respective venues, at retail locations within a quarter mile and online.
The legislation establishes that it can only progress if a new 20-year extension to the state’s tribal compacts is agreed with the tribes. The legislation offers the tribes up to 10 licences to run sports books at their more than 20 casinos in the state.
The tribes would also get the right to build new casinos, and expand their gambling offerings to add games like baccarat to the existing offering of slot machines, blackjack and poker.
HB 2772 outlines plans to charge licence fees and taxes, although the only detail so far is that the amounts will not be less than those charged to tribal casinos. Money raised from betting will go to the state’s general fund.
In the fiscal year that ended last June, tribes brought in nearly $2bn in gambling revenue and the state received $102m, according to a Department of Gaming report.
Speaking in his State of the State address last month, Governor Ducey said he would be holding talks with legislators about the possibility of established a new gaming compact.
This, Ducey said, would help to generate additional revenue for Arizona’s tribal nations, as well as its state budget – both of which were impacted by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic over the past year. The current compacts are set to expire in 2023.
“The re-negotiated compact is intended to maintain the current culture of gaming in the state, allow for limited, well-regulated gaming while allowing for modernisation, and increase revenue to the tribes and to the state,” Ducey said.