Arizona Moves Ahead with Sports Betting Law after House Approval

ArizonaLegal Arizona moves ahead with sports betting bill
Feb 18, 2021 12:02Tim Ronaldson

Sports betting passed a major milestone in Arizona this week. The state House of Representatives' Rules Committee passed a bill by a vote of 6-2 that would legalize sports betting in Arizona.

Now, that that hurdle has been overcome, the bill will now go to the full House for a vote among all the members. Over in the state Senate, a companion bill is set to be heard this week at a hearing of the Appropriations Committee. If both of those bills were to progress and be approved, Arizona could be the next state in the U.S. to legalize sports wagering.

Bill Proceeds with Minimal Amendments

The House Rules Committee made only slight adjustments to the original bill. The changes were small in nature involving mostly alterations to language or technical aspects.

The most minor of changes was the extension for approval time on an application to 60 days from 30 days. But, the one change that could be major is the possibility that more than 10 licenses could be made available for tribal casinos.

In the original version of the bill, the law would have established 10 licenses for both digital and retail wagering. In Arizona, that would have applied to any professional sports franchise, venue and tribal casino.

Currently, there are seven professional venues that meet the state's requirements. There are also 24 casinos in the state that are run by 16 different tribes.

The new text of the bill, though, could make more than 10 sports wagering licenses available.

The pertinent text reads:

"Unless more than 10 applications for each type of license are received for a particular license type, the department shall adopt a process for ensuring an equal opportunity for all qualified applicants to obtain a license."

This could mean that eventually, every tribal casino that wanted to build a sportsbook could do so. This could be huge for both the tribes and for gamblers in Arizona who would prefer to wager on sports at a retail location.

One thing that will have many people in Arizona happy is that mobile sports betting would be allowed, too. Not only is mobile wagering extremely popular among bettors, it has resulted in a large majority of the wagering in other states such as New Jersey and Nevada.

This has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is likely to be a major avenue for wagering on sports even after.

Arizona's sports betting law would allow for outside companies to offer mobile wagering. Tribal casinos would also have the ability to offer mobile wagering offerings.

Oversight Yet to Be Determined

Even as the sports betting bill is progressing to the full House for a vote, there is still a lot to be done between now and when wagers are officially accepted.

One of the main obstacles is getting the oversight and fees in order. The amendments to the most recent bill updated the fee structure for daily fantasy sports.

It would also put the Arizona Department of Gaming in charge of coming up with a fee structure for sports betting operators, and also how they would be evaluated. The regulating agency would also be the one to set the tax rate on sports wagering.

What's more, there's also the possibility that the tribal casinos object to the wording of the rule. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said the tribes would also be regulated by the Department of Gaming. This could also open the possibility that the state would want to collect tax revenue from the tribes for all applicable sports wagers.

Traditionally, tribal casinos are exempt from paying set taxes. In most locations, the tribes instead have an agreement to share revenue that helps support both the local and state economy.

However, an agreement like this was made in Michigan recently for sports wagering to be taxes at a set 8.4% rate. This means there's a framework already in place for what Arizona could do for sports wagering at tribal casinos.

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Tim Ronaldson
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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