Arizona Legal Sports Betting to become available in 2020?

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04/27/2020
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Arizona Legal Sports Betting to become available in 2020

Sports betting is still not a reality for fans and sports bettors in the state of Arizona. However, the winds of change are blowing through the Grand Canyon State as Arizona’s lawmakers are looking to jump onboard the sports betting legalization wagon that appears to be gathering speed throughout the United States. Following the stalled sports betting bill of early 2019, now in 2020, there are two bills before the state’s lawmakers that could have more potential than the first attempt to bring legal sports betting to Arizona. In a classic political good-cop-bad-cop dam-busting maneuver, one bill is identical to the 2019 bill (bad cop) while the other is a totally fresh bill (good cop) that appears likely to be Arizona’s opportunity to secure legal sports betting in 2020.

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Two Sports Betting Legalization Bills – Just Need 1 to Pass

The two sports betting bills currently under the consideration of Arizona state legislators are HB 2813 and SB 1525.

SB 1525

This bill is essentially a do-over of last years failed attempt to legalize sports betting in the Grand Canyon State. The essence of this bill and why is quite possibly doomed to failure, is that it hinges on each of Arizona’s 24 Tribal Casinos to offer sports betting only. What that means is no mobile betting, nor online sports betting of any kind would be legalized. Furthermore, as a final impasse to SB 1525, this legislation would require Arizona’s voters to pass a referendum for sports betting to become legal. With betting only under the auspices of the Tribal Casinos in this scenario, that appears highly unlikely to become reality.

HB 2813

Arizona’s HB 2813 would make sports wagering in Arizona legal at retail and other locations, so that their facilities would be able to expand their businesses to include legalized sportsbooks. Horse racing tracks would also be deemed eligible as sports betting venues under the auspices of this legislation. No online or mobile sports betting would be permitted at this point in time.

Other than commercial locations being allowed to operate sports betting lounges, the Grand Canyon State’s Tribal casinos would also be allowed to run their own licensed sportsbooks. While it’s not a deal breaker, it could be set to become an issue down the line depending on the finalized rules and regulations for potential legal Arizona sports betting, and how those rules apply within the existing state Tribal Gaming Compacts. For example, the two different sets of regulations could cause friction in how Tribal businesses may offer sports wagers at their locations, or in the most positive outcome, trigger a renegotiation of the Tribal compacts.

For the time being, Arizona’s HB 2813 continues to make its labyrinth ways through the Committees and will now see its way to the House Floor. Whilst at first glance, it appears that legal sports betting in Arizona may have to wait until 2021 at least to be passed, we have seen much less likely events turn positive in other states in the last six to eight months.

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What Now in Arizona?

 Even if the miracle it does happen this legislative season, it appears that Arizona could possibly be limited to legal sports betting on tribal casino property only. There probably will be no mobile or online sports betting legal in Arizona in 2020, but it doesn’t mean the end for AZ online sports betting.

What may precipitate the unlikely launch of legal Arizona sports betting is the legalized status of nearby neighbors – Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. In particular, with Colorado expecting to launch sports betting in May 2020, potentially losing tax state revenue dollars to Colorado is unlikely to appear attractive to Arizona lawmakers either. Watch this space.

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