Arizona Tribal Casinos Give Sports Betting the Green Light

Having got the state’s tribal casinos onside with his plan to legalize sports betting, Arizona State Governor Doug Ducey wants to open the door to allow all Arizonans 21 years-of-age and older to place legal sports wagers on the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns, and perhaps even the Sun Devils and Wildcats.

Governor Ducey’s remarks follow a similar blue print to those made recently by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in calling for online sports betting, and Texas legislators launching their own sports betting bill under the watchful eyes of lobbyists.

In addition to sports betting, Governor Ducey also wants the legislature to allow for legalized instant keno games and Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).

Ducey reinforced his desire to remodel the state’s gaming landscape in his recent State of the State address, including the possibility of Arizona sports wagering in commercial casinos, online sportsbooks and on the state’s tribal reservations;

“There’s also an opportunity for a modernized gaming compact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget over time,” Ducey said.

Ducey recently negotiated toward introducing new gaming compacts for Arizona tribes after the current 20-year agreements expires in 2022. Tribal casinos contributed more than $96 million to the consolidated revenue fund of Arizona in 2020 funding education, infrastructure projects, health care, conservation, tourism, and problem gambling programs.

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Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is a realist and fully comprehends will not be an easy process, (following last year’s aborted legislative sports betting legalization push), however, he seems willing to do the work necessary now and make the sacrifices required to expedite the process.

Having sports wagering legalized is not a simple task and will require negotiating a labyrinth pathway. Existing Arizona state laws will require amendment and above all, receive mandatory approval by the majority of voters in a referendum. Additionally, the federal law governing tribal gaming off-reservation would require further a slight tweak. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act mandates that tribal gaming must take place on reservation land. The trick will be to relocate servers to Tribal land.

For the Arizona State Governor revised tribal compacts are the realistic way to generate additional dollars for the state without imposing new taxes. The “win-win situation” of the new deal, Ducey said, will generate more revenue for the tribes and more money for the state government, which currently receives a share of tribal gaming revenues. Clearly, Governor Ducey has learnt from previous negotiations with the Tribes on off-reservation keno gaming, and is smartly turning the sports betting deal into a win-win scenario for all. In Ducey’s own words;

“Our goal is to bring Arizona gaming into the 21st century. A lot has changed since the first compacts were signed, back when cell phones weren’t the thing they are now. The world looks a lot different today and our proposal is intended to reflect the way people live their lives today” the Governor said.

FanDuel is backing the sports betting proposal to be successful in Arizona as the leading sportsbook pushes ahead in its negotiations with Arizona’s NBA franchise, the Phoenix Suns. The deal also points towards the possibility that Arizona legislators will potentially consider legalizing sports betting at professional sports arenas in addition to Tribal Casinos and online sportsbooks.

FanDuel’s proposed sports betting partnership with the Suns isn’t the company’s first with a pro team. The company became the first online sportsbook operator to sign a deal with an NFL team when putting pen to paper in a deal with the Denver Broncos.

Watch this space for how Arizona sports betting plays out.

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