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Arizona Sports Betting

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Sports Betting Guide for Arizona

Also known as The Grand Canyon State, Arizona’s nickname describes one of the most exceptional natural features of the world and yet, it is not the only attraction Arizona has to offer. There is an active gambling industry existent in the state that brings in plenty of revenue other than offering locals cut-throat entertainment. But unlike New JerseyPennsylvania  and some other states, Arizona is not yet offering online gambling.

Nearly all the 22 tribes in Arizona signed compacts with the state decades ago, allowing them to operate tribal casinos on the over 20 million acres of tribal reservation land that is under their jurisdiction. However, unlike casino gaming sports betting in Arizona lags, if you compare it to what’s available in other states. Here is a guide on sports betting in Arizona, taking a look at what’s available and what we expect in the near feature.

Brief History of Sports Betting in Arizona

For decades, one of the most popular forms of gambling in the state of Arizona was greyhound and horse racing. Betting on the runners was legal since the 1950s, and the Arizona Racing Commission was even formed in 1958 for the proper regulation of the activity.

Parimutuel betting was the order of the day, and off-track betting was later introduced as well. To further advance the racing industry, in 2014, Janice Brewer, the then Governor of Arizona signed a bill that allowed ADW (Advanced Deposit Wagering) into law. Locals could now place wagers from the comfort of their homes without having to go to the stables.

Back to off-track betting, Arizona has one of the largest numbers of OTB facilities in the USA. Players can place wagers on the ponies from a range of locations, including hotels, restaurants, sports bars, and even bowling alleys.

What is the Current State of Sports Betting in Arizona?

Thanks to Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compacts with the local Native American tribes, tribal gaming holds a monopoly over gambling products in the state. Even after the Professional and Amateur Act of 1992 was repealed by the Supreme Court on May 14, 2018, very little progress has been made to expand the sports betting industry in the state.

However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for sports fans after a bill was introduced to legalize sports betting but only on tribal land in January of 2019. SB1158 if passed, would give every federally recognized Indian tribe with a tribal-state gaming compact authority to operate sports betting kiosks. This meant that tribal casinos would be the only entities that would be allowed to open sportsbooks to the residents of Arizona.

Unfortunately, up until January 2020, the bill is yet to bear fruition because only one tribe out of the 22 federally recognized Arizona tribes support the bill. Most of the tribes are adamant about supporting the bill because they feel that legalizing sports betting will water down the casino revenue that they are already enjoying.

Interactive Sports Betting in Arizona

Because the ability to place wagers online did not exist by the time of signing state-tribal compacts on tribal gaming, interactive gambling remained a grey area as it did in many other states as well. Thankfully, pari-mutuel online betting on horse and greyhound races was allowed on sites like BetAmerica, TVG and Twinspires. However, there was a time around the 2010s when the online horse and greyhound racing platforms left Arizona, but they came back in January 2015.

No other form of online sports betting allowed in the state of Arizona. At the moment though negotiations are ongoing and there is a chance that the state might authorize the same provided that it occurs on tribal land.

Daily Fantasy Sports Betting

The legalization of daily fantasy sports is a trend that’s been adapted in a couple of states across America.  The laws that prohibit daily fantasy sports betting in most cases define the sports contests to be under the description of games of chance. This, however, has been overturned in many states, and betting on daily fantasy sports contests has been legalized under the argument that they are actually game of skill, not of chance.

In the same fashion, State Bill 1515 was introduced by Senator Adam Driggs in February 2016 in a bid to legalize these contests in Arizona. But then, because of the tribal compacts in existence in Arizona; however, there was conflict will the Native Tribes based on how the bill was worded. Discussions were to be held by the assemblymen to further debate on and revise the bill but since then, there hasn’t been any mention of the bill to date. Offshore operators are also cautious and most don’t offer daily fantasy sports betting to Arizonians as the penalty might be too steep.

Summary of Betting in Arizona

Commercial land-based sports betting CasinosNot Allowed
Tribal land-based casinos sports bettingIn progress of legalization
Interactive GamblingAllowed only on pari-mutuel betting on horse and greyhound racing
Daily Fantasy Sports ContestsProhibited
Horse & Dog Race WageringPari-mutuel, OTB, ADW 
Legal Gambling AgeHorse & Greyhound Racing: 21+
Regulatory BodiesArizona Department of Gaming
Key LegislationArizona State Code and Revised Statues


What Does the Future Hold For Sports Betting in Arizona?

There’s still a lot of room for the sports betting industry to prosper in the state as there are already sports betting products legalized so far. Now that the tribal casinos in Arizona are already opening sportsbooks, it is up to the state to take it a step further and find a way to legalize daily fantasy sports betting by coming to an agreement with the native tribes.

If the state decides to wait out the tribal compacts until 2022, sports betting in Arizona will continue to lag behind. Tribal compacts between the state and native tribes are due for renewal but the tribes might fight back as well to maintain their monopoly over the gambling industry. Commercial sports betting operators are not yet authorized in the state and this might change after the expiration of the compacts as well. Moreover, the fact that offshore operators are limiting their sportsbook services to residents of Arizona might influence the state to change its laws on gambling. All in all, The Copper State has always had a thriving gambling industry and it can only get better from here on out especially after the PASPA repeal.

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