On Tuesday, the Arizona House Commerce Committee advanced a gambling expansion proposal that looks to accept betting on professional and collegiate sports. The draft bill – House Bill 2772, sponsored by Republican Representative Jeff Weninger of Chandler seeks to allow legal sports betting in tribal casinos that are operated by the tribes that cut a deal with Governor Doug Ducey.
Furthermore, the bill also seeks to boost state revenue by allowing gambling out of tribe-operated casinos in the Grand Canyon State. Thus, professional teams such as the Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Phoenix Coyotes will also be permitted to offer sports betting services at retail facilities with a quarter-mile of their respective venues and online.
Aside from tribe-operated casinos and professional team venues, horse racing tracks in the state will as well be allowed to launch sports betting operations. Predictably, the legalization of daily fantasy sports (DFS) is also part of the HB 2772 equation.
Following the practice of other legal sports betting states, there’s also room for online gambling sites such as FanDuel, and DraftKings to piggyback on the licenses that will be issued. In total, 10 licenses will be awarded to professional sports teams, and the likes of NASCAR and golf could be part of the bargain. Similarly, the tribes will also receive 10 licenses for the two-dozen tribe-operated casinos in Arizona.
Current Tribal Compacts Expiring in 2022
Historically, tribes in Arizona and plenty of other states in the USA have strongly opposed any form of sports betting that isn’t within their control, it thus makes sense that the governor ensured that they were on board before proceeding.
But this doesn’t mean that the new compacts came overnight. Reports from sources close to the matter indicate that Gov. Ducey has been at it for a couple of years before the tribes finally cracked. Moreover, given that the current tribal gaming compacts expire next year, the time was also ripe for a new deal with the Arizona tribes. Until now, however, the governor hasn’t disclosed a lot of detail about what the deal entails.
In 2002, voters already gave the tribes another win on the ballot by giving them the right to construct new casinos and add games such as craps and Baccarat to their exiting portfolio. Before then, they were only allowed to offer slot machines, poker, and blackjack.
Not Everyone is Happy with the Gambling Expansion Deal
Gretchen Conger, the governor’s assistant chief of staff had earlier in the month revealed that gambling expansion was being sought in Arizona was to give the tribes and pro sports teams a shot in the arm after they suffered an economic shortfall from Covid-19.
Of course, this expansion will also be a win for the state as more money in form of tax revenue will be channeled to the state’s tax coffers. The Grand Canyon state will get an 8% cut from non-tribal gaming proceeds and this money will go to the general fund. For tribal gaming, on the other hand, maximum taxation of 8% will be applied to the profits, and the funds will go to local governments and special state accounts. Analysts project that Arizona will collect up to $42 million more revenue every year from expanded gaming.
As good as the news is, not everyone in the Grand Canyon state is happy with the new gaming expansion proposal. Smaller businesses such as bars and taverns which also rely on gaming revenue haven’t been included in the expansion yet they also took a hefty economic blow as a result of the pandemic.
In fact, in the Tuesday hearing, before House Bill 2772 was advanced by the panel, David Delos, the president of the Arizona Licensed Beverage Association voiced the concern of small businesses being left out of the deal. He explained to the House Committee that he feared for smaller establishments as the reduced operating capacity rule will continue hurting their business, with many of them pushed to the brink of closure, and without intervention, the shutdown of smaller business would also affect the state economically. Lawmakers agreed to offering the said businesses more support but did not give specifics.