Lundy highlighted the fact Arizona is one of six states without legal daily fantasy sports. She also cited estimates that more than 1 million Arizonans are betting upwards of $3 billion illegally. With legalized sports betting, Lundy said Arizona could generate up to $42 million annually in taxes to its general fund. Arizona represents one of the many states with confusing gambling laws. With offline sports betting legalised at 55 locations, and Indian Casinos monopolising gambling in Arizona, it is a bumpy road toward fully licensed online sports betting.
PHOENIX (AP) - Arizonans would be allowed to bet on professional and college sports at tribal casinos and at sites owned by pro sports teams under a proposal that is part of an update to the state's deal that allows Native American tribes to run casinos.
The wide-ranging proposal introduced in the Arizona House on Monday would also allow bets to be placed online, fantasy sports wagering, and add limited Keno games at off-track betting locations and social clubs like the American Legion.
The proposal introduced by Republican Rep. Jeff Weninger of Chandler has been anticipated since GOP Gov. Doug Ducey announced “an opportunity for a modernized gaming compact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget,” in his State of the State address last month. Ducey 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.
That's just what the deal does, Weninger said Tuesday, although the anticipated revenue hasn't been released.
“With that comes tax revenue without raising taxes, and allows us to keep our tax rates low,” Weninger said in an interview.
The biggest part of the plan would allow pro sports teams like the Phoenix Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Cardinals run sports betting operations at their respective venues, at a retail location within a quarter mile and online. There would be 10 licenses awarded to sports, which could include professional golf and even NASCAR, Weninger said.
Tribes would also get 10 licenses and could run sports books at two dozen tribal casinos in the state.
The tribes, which have fiercely protected their exclusive right to most gambling in the state under the gaming compact approved by the state’s voters in 2002, get the right to build some new casinos under an updated deal. And in a big win, they would also be allowed to greatly expand their exclusive gambling offerings, adding games like Baccarat and craps to existing offerings of slot machines, blackjack and poker.
And there are options for online gambling as well, allowing growing online gambling sites like Draft Kings to piggyback on the licenses.
Fantasy sports gambling also is embraced by Weninger's proposal. The state would allow any company that meets it 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.
Getchen Conger, Ducey's deputy chief of staff, said the deal will help tribes and pro sport teams that have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic. And the plan is certain to boost state revenue, but it will take some time for the amount to become clear, especially revenue from gambling on sporting events.
“This is the million-dollar question,” Conger said. 'It really depends on what the uptake is on the event wagering.”
The state gets a cut of the gambling profit, which will go to the general fund. Money from tribal gaming goes to special state accounts and local governments. In the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2020, tribes brought in nearly $2 billion in gambling revenue and the state received $102 million, according to a Department of Gaming report, while cities received $13 million.
Arizona’s journey into the realm of gambling has been unique.
Although the legal machinations that led to its current situation — 23 casinos open for business — are common in the United States, Arizona may be the only state that’s journey toward legalization involved an armed standoff between a group of casino supporters and law enforcement.
As is often the case with non-Las Vegas or Atlantic City casinos, Arizona’s casino scene arose due to the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act of 1988. The act allowed federally-recognized Native American tribes to negotiate agreements (denoted as “compacts” in the language of the act) with their resident state governments. This allows the tribes to operate casinos on reservation lands.
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In Arizona’s case, that meant 22 tribes could potentially come to the state legislature in search of agreements allowing Vegas-style casinos on their property.
Unfortunately, many of Arizona’s tribes chose to move forward and install gaming on their reservations in the early 1990s. They did so without the benefit of negotiating compacts with the state.
Arguments between the two parties continued until May 1992. At that time, the National Indian Gaming Commission clarified that tribes must have a compact with the state to operate slot machines. As a result, Governor Fife Symington asked the FBI to raid the offending casinos. What happened at the Fort McDowellCasino was unprecedented in the movement toward gambling within a state.
The Yavapai Indians operated a casino with about 300 slot machines on their Fort McDowell reservation. At the time of the FBI’s raid, several other tribes had already had their machines seized. So the tribe prepared for action when its turn came.
At dawn on May 12, 1992, federal agents converged on the casino. They loaded the machines into trailers to be hauled away. The tribe responded by blocking the only entrance road to the casino with heavy-duty machinery and large vehicles. After an eight-hour standoff that featured an agent with a rifle and binoculars keeping watch on the roof of the casino, the agents agreed to leave the machines behind for a cooling-off period. The incident ended up lasting three weeks.
In the end, the tribe’s pleas about the casino’s economic impact found an audience. Pressure on the governor caused him to come to the negotiating table. He eventually agreed to compacts with 16 of Arizona’s 22 tribes.
Ultimately, Arizona ended up signing deals with all but one of its tribes. The Hopi are the lone nation without a compact. Of the 22 tribes with compacts, 16 operate at least one casino. Currently, there is a total of 23 facilities operating in the state.
Several of Arizona’s casinos offer free play options through their websites.
Casino del Sol offers a connection to Double Down Casino.Ak-Chin brings players to Harrah’s online site (which includes Slotomania). Talking Stick Casino and the Desert Diamond properties each have their own sites.
These offerings have advantages for both players and casinos. It allows players to experience the thrills of playing slots without losing money. At the same time, they can familiarize themselves with the machines they’re likely to see at each casino. For the casinos, these sites bring in new customers who are already prepped on what each casino has. Thus, if the customer visits, they’re already loyal.
As usual, Arizonans also have access to the usual Facebook and mobile device apps not covered by the casinos themselves – Big Fish, Zynga, and such.
It also bears mentioning that Arizona’s proximity to Las Vegas (particularly in the northern part of the state) increases the value and usefulness of using the MyVegas app, which is owned and operated by MGM.
MyVegas has a wide list of partner organizations (including most of its Las Vegas properties). Through diligent free play, players can earn loyalty points. Players can redeem points for real world comps, like free hotel rooms, free food in restaurants, or real money for use in the casino.
Below are the six largest casinos (by number of slot machines) in Arizona:
|Property||Location||Number of Slots|
|Casino del Sol||Tucson||1300|
|Desert Diamond Casino – West Valley||Chandler||1089|
|Fort McDowell||Fountain Hills||900|
|Gila River – Vee Quiva||Laveen||900|
Arizona’s gambling laws do not address online gambling. Residents have no state-sanctioned or regulated online casinos inside state lines to play. There are also no prohibitions against playing on offshore sites.
As is the case in many states, Arizona state law simply has not kept up with the electronic version of gambling. For Arizonans, it exists in a grey zone.
Additionally, neither retail sports betting or Arizona online sports betting is legal.
Desert Diamond Casinos is a group of four tribal casinos located in Tucson, Sahuarita, Why, and Glendale (“West Valley”).
Together, they offer Arizonans options for gaming, dining, and entertainment. The casinos are clustered around the major metropolitan areas in Arizona. Each casino offers hundreds of slot machines, dozens of table games, and shopping options. The Why location even has a convenience store.
There is no doubt that these casinos are geared toward locals. There are amenities and entertainment options, but the focus in a suburban setting is more on the pure gaming side of things. People going to these casinos just got off work and have their own places to sleep. They just want to unwind and play a few hands or spin the reels a few times.
The Desert Diamond Casinos are owned by the Tohono O’odham Nation, a branch of the O’odham people, which includes the Ak-Chin and Gila River groups (who own casinos themselves).
The larger nation used to extend across the border into Mexico. But the Gadsden Purchase, and the drawing of borders between Mexico and the United States, have created a delicate situation for the people of the tribe who want to visit and use their traditional lands. Regardless, the tribe has managed to prosper through the rights afforded it by the IGRA. In doing so, it’s fashioning its own history each year.
|Permitted/Offered?||Notes & Restrictions|
|Land-Based Gambling||Yes||Tribal casinos only|
|Online Gambling||No||No legal status|
|Lottery||Yes||State and multistate drawings available|
|Charitable or House-Based Gambling||Yes||Bingo and raffles|
|Minimum Gambling Age||21||21 for any gambling, land-based or online|