The Arizona legislature passed two bills regulating sports betting. Now, the new law heads to Governor Doug Ducey’s desk for his signature. Simultaneously, the Governor must reach and announce new gambling compacts with the state’s Native American tribes.

In all, it means one of the largest gambling expansions in Arizona’s history. Supporters hope to have regulated online sports betting running this summer.

Tribal Compacts Key to Arizona Sports Betting

Because Arizona grants Native American tribes exclusive gambling licenses, new compacts are necessary. Both bills authorize sports betting licenses to be granted to professional sports teams. This violates the current agreements between the state and the tribes.

However, it appears Gov. Ducey reached a companion update to the compacts.

In return for allowing sports betting to occur on non-native land, the tribes must have received something in return.

Arizona Tribal Casino Expansion Coming

Despite the exact language of the new compacts remaining secret, some details leaked. State lawmakers stated they were granted access to the agreements before voting on the sports betting bills.

The tribes apparently secured three key goals in the updated compacts. First, they can expand their table games beyond poker and blackjack. Expect Arizona casinos to offer a full suite of options on their gaming floor soon, including baccarat, craps, and roulette.

Second, Arizona will permit new land-based casino locations. An unknown number will also be located close to the Phoenix metro area. Of the current 24 tribal casinos, a few are spread around the edges of Phoenix. The new compact may allow more lucrative resort-casinos closer to the heart of America’s fifth-largest city.

Finally, Native American tribes can build their own sportsbooks and mobile gaming operations. But they will not monopolize online sports betting in Arizona.

Arizona Sports Betting Licenses for Professional Teams

The bills will authorize Arizona to grant ten licenses for sports organizations to operate their own sportsbooks. Each organization will be allowed to run a sportsbook at their stadium or arena. They also have the right to operate a mobile betting app.

Phoenix Raceway
Phoenix Raceway at night

In addition to Arizona’s franchises in the big four American sports leagues, the Phoenix Raceway and TPC Scottsdale golf course can apply to host sportsbooks. These venues host NASCAR and PGA events, respectively. It is not immediately clear what organizations will be eligible for the remaining four sports betting skins.

In addition to commercial licenses, there will be ten Arizona sports betting licenses for Native American tribes.

What Questions Remain For Arizona Sports Betting?

It appears Gov. Ducey will sign the legislation expanding Arizona sports betting. The bills also create a state-wide Keno system for the first time and explicitly allow fantasy sports. But historical horse racing machines do not appear to be included in the compromise.

Arizona Coyotes' Tyler Pitlick
Will a sports betting license change the Coyotes fortunes?

Questions remain about the extent of geofencing for mobile sports betting. Native American tribes likely will reject any commercial competitors taking wagers for people while on native land. Does that also mean that the tribal mobile operations will be prohibited from taking bets across the entire state? Anticipate this issue being worked out in the newly updated compacts.

Another concern revolves around betting on college sports. Arizona’s major colleges oppose allowing wagers on their events. However, it appears the legislation compromised on this issue. While collegiate spread and moneyline bets are allowed, prop bets are prohibited. Still, bettors will have access to a full display of prop bets on professional games.

Finally, when will Arizona sports betting begin? The legislation on Gov. Ducey’s desk apparently contains an emergency provision. This language will allow the law to take effect immediately upon his signature. Therefore, regulated sports betting can kick-off along with football season.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virginia and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

Back To Top
Back To Top