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The Push to Legalize and Regulate Sports Betting in Arizona

A sports betting bill was introduced in 2019 that would have allowed tribes the ability to accept wagers off the reservation. Senate Bill 1158 didn’t even make it to a second reading, but that hasn’t stopped the sponsors from trying again in 2020. 

Senator Sonny Borrelli and Representative Steve Pierce were the sponsors of the previous bill, and they are also sponsoring SB 1525 this year. SB 1525 would allow the Native American tribes to offer sports betting through kiosks and retail sportsbooks.

If this bill was able to pass through both the House and Senate, it would also require approval from voters in the state before it was able to take place. Online sports betting Arizona would not be a part of this bill.

Will Online Casinos Ever Be Legal in Arizona?

While the state of Arizona has been working hard to legalize sports betting over the last 12 months, the same cannot be said for legalizing online casinos. Even though the tribal nations would be operating these casino sites, it doesn’t appear that they want to expand into that industry. The compacts between the tribes and the state don’t include any language that would legalize online casino sites

Online casinos in Arizona will probably remain an afterthought for some time as the state focuses on sports betting. If you live in Arizona and wish to gamble, you will have to travel to Native American reservations.

Is Online Poker Legal in Arizona?

Arizona allows poker games to be played, but there are a few restrictions. Live poker games can be offered at the tribal casinos in the state, and in card rooms that are set up on Native American reservations. Social poker games are also allowed according to state law, but these games cannot have an entry fee or a cash prize. Online poker is strictly prohibited. 

Other organizations cannot set up or run an online poker tournament from anywhere inside the state of Arizona. Just like with the topic of online casinos, there hasn’t been any recent legislation introduced to legalize online poker sites.

The Legality of Daily Fantasy Sports in Arizona

Daily fantasy sports in the Grand Canyon State has been a huge topic of debate over the last few years, and that battle isn’t going away anytime soon. The problem with trying to legalize daily fantasy sports is that it goes against the current compacts that the state has with Native American tribes. A compact is an agreement between the tribes and the state that allows them to offer gambling on their lands.

The first bill to try and challenge the laws surrounding daily fantasy sports was introduced in February 2016. Senate Bill 1515 was introduced to eliminate DFS from Arizona’s definition of gambling. 

The bill did not pass through the Senate and died out by the end of February in that year. Both DraftKings and FanDuel threw their support to SB 1515, but lawmakers didn’t want to tackle the issue at that time.

Lottery Tickets Cannot be Purchased Online in Arizona

The state of Arizona does have a website for their state lottery, but the online lottery is not legalized. Arizona became the first state that was located west of the Mississippi River to launch a state lottery when they did so in 1980. It took a statewide vote to pass the referendum, and there have been a few other votes taken to extend the lottery contract.

The money that is raised through the Arizona State Lottery is used to fund various projects throughout the state. All tickets bought in the Arizona State Lottery must be purchased from a licensed retailer, and no tickets can be bought over the phone, internet, or through the mail.

The Arizona Lottery Commission is simply in charge of the state lottery, and they are not in charge of the other aspects of the gambling industry in the state of Arizona.

Other Important Facts About Gambling in Arizona

Arizona might have more than 20 casinos located throughout the state, but their strict gambling laws date back to 1912. All forms of gambling were banned as part of the state constitution when the state became a part of the United States. It wasn’t until 1980 when the state lottery was formed that the issue of gambling was discussed in the state.

Arizona was without a casino until 1990, when several Native American tribes began to set up slot machines on their land. Governor Fyfe Symington challenged the tribes, and a decade-long legal battle ensued. 

Tribes began forming compacts with the state in 1992, and all initial compacts were signed by 1994. In 2003, those gambling compacts were renewed, and additional tribes were able to strike deals with the state.

One interesting thing to note is that the current proposed sports betting bill restricts wagers placed on events that are prohibited by the NCAA. It’s unclear why that language was included because the NCAA does not place any restrictions in the sports betting industry.

Final Thoughts on Gambling in the Grand Canyon State

Arizona’s gambling laws are very prohibitive if you are not physically gambling in one of the tribal casinos. The sports betting industry is hoping to take off in the state after a couple of bills have been introduced by state lawmakers. 

Online gambling would still be prohibited throughout the state, but it’s progress that most residents of Arizona would welcome.

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