Arizona to adopt sports betting in dealing with tribes

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

02/06/2021 12:00 PM

PHOENIX (AP) – Arizonans are allowed to bet on professional and college sports in tribal casinos and at locations of professional sports teams. This is part of an update to the state treaty that allows Indian tribes to operate casinos.

The sweeping proposal, tabled at Arizona House on Monday, would also allow it to place bets online, complete fantasy sports betting, and add limited keno games at off-track betting venues and in social clubs like the American Legion.

Chandler Republican Rep. Jeff Weninger’s proposal has been anticipated since GOP Governor Doug Ducey announced in his state “an opportunity for a modernized gaming pact that will generate more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget” state address last month. Ducey has been working on a new deal with tribes for several years in hopes that it can boost government revenues by allowing gaming outside of tribal-run casinos.

That is exactly what the deal does, Weninger said on Tuesday, although the expected earnings have not yet been released.

“This goes hand in hand with tax revenues without increasing taxes, and we can keep our tax rates low,” Weninger said in an interview.

Most of the plan would allow professional sports teams like the Phoenix Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Arizona Cardinals to conduct sports betting at their respective venues, at a retail location within a quarter of a mile, and online. There would be 10 licenses for sports, including professional golf and even NASCAR, Weninger said.

Tribes would also get 10 licenses and have sports books in two dozen tribal casinos across the state.

The tribes, which have strictly protected their exclusive right to most games of chance in the state under the gambling treaty approved by the state’s voters in 2002, are given the right to build some new casinos under an updated agreement. And if they win big, they could also expand their exclusive gambling offerings considerably and add games such as baccarat and craps to existing offerings for slot machines, blackjack and poker.

And there are online gambling options too, allowing growing online gambling sites like Draft Kings to take advantage of the licenses.

Fantasy gambling is also welcomed by Wenger’s suggestion. The state would allow any company that met its standards to engage in fantasy sports gambling.

Both the legislation and a 20-year extension of the state gambling contract with tribes need to be passed for both to go into effect.

Getchen Conger, Ducey’s deputy chief of staff, said the deal will help tribes and professional sports teams struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. And the plan will surely increase government revenue, but it will take time for the amount to become clear, especially revenue from gambling at sporting events.

“This is the million dollar question,” said Conger. “It really depends on the level of acceptance of the event use.”

The state receives a cut in gambling winnings that goes to the general fund. Tribal game money goes to special state accounts and local governments. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020, the tribes brought in nearly $ 2 billion in gambling revenues, and the state received $ 102 million, while cities received $ 13 million, according to a report from the Department of Gaming .