Bill to Legalize Sports Betting in Arizona Headed to Gov. Doug Ducey

On Monday, the Arizona Legislature approved a bill that will for the first time allow sports betting both on and off reservations.

The bill allows betting on professional and college sports at sites owned by pro sports teams and at tribal casinos. It also allows gambling on fantasy sports and new Keno games at horse race tracks and fraternal organizations.

Passage of the legislation is tied to the updated gaming compact Ducey has struck with tribes. The details of the pact have not yet been released to the public.

In Governor Ducey’s January State of the State address, Ducey announced “an opportunity for a modernized gaming compact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget.” The governor has been working on a new deal with tribes for several years, hoping it can boost state revenue by allowing gambling outside of tribal-run casinos.

A large part of the plan would allow pro sports teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Coyotes, and Arizona Diamondbacks to run sports betting operations at their venues, at retail locations within a quarter-mile of their location and also online. There would be 10 licenses awarded to sports, which could include professional golf and also possibly NASCAR.

Tribes would also get 10 licenses and could run sports books at two dozen tribal casinos in Arizona.

The tribes, which have had protected measures in place for their exclusive right to most gambling in the state under the gaming compact approved by the state’s voters in 2002, will get the approval to build additional casinos under the updated deal. In addition, they would also be allowed to expand their exclusive gambling offerings, adding games such as Baccarat and craps to the existing offerings of slot machines, blackjack and poker.

There are also options for online gambling as well. The plan allows growing online gambling sites like Draft Kings to piggyback on the licenses granted.

The state would allow any company that meets its standards to run fantasy sports gambling operations.

Both the legislation and a 20-year extension of the state’s gaming compact with tribes must be adopted for either to go into effect.

An estimate of the possible new amount of revenue the state could receive has not been officially calculated, however Rep. Jeff Weninger, a Chandler Republican who sponsored the bill, believes the state could easily expect to exceed $100 million per year for the general fund.

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