Sports Betting Proposal Advances in Arizona House Panel

Arizona State Flag and an Arizona Casino
An Arizona House panel advanced a proposal that would permit legal betting on professional and collegiate sports at tribal casinos and venues owned by professional sports teams after hearing from the tribes and teams that back the deal that Gov Doug Ducey made with the tribes.

The proposal, authored by Rep. Jeff Weninger, would allow professional sports teams and tribes with existing casinos to conduct legal Arizona sports betting operations. It would also allow fantasy sports betting from online operators, new sports betting at horse racing tracks and selling of Keno tickets by groups like the VFW.

8% of the non-tribal legal Arizona sports betting profits will go to the state’s general fund while taxes from a maximum of 8% on tribal gaming revenues will go to the local governments and special state accounts. It is estimated that legal Arizona sports betting could bring in as much as $42M per year in additional state revenue.

Backed by Arizona Pro Sports Teams

Representatives for Arizona’s professional sports teams are backing the measure. Under Weninger’s proposal, teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks would be allowed to have sportsbooks inside and near their venues. Weninger’s initiative is also backed up by the major tribes in Arizona as it would allow them to add more table games while also operate sports betting facilities.

According to Arizona Diamondbacks representative Amilyn Pierce, teams in areas with legal sports betting bring in extra revenues that hurt the competitiveness of Arizona’s pro sports teams. Pierce said without legal Arizona sports betting, the state’s sports teams are at a disadvantage in a competitive market.

Small Businesses Are Being Left Out

Associations representing bars aren’t too thrilled with the proposal. Arizona’s bars, which were hit very hard by the pandemic, are complaining that they are being left out new opportunities, including new Keno games and fantasy sports betting. They argue that big operators will get more revenues from legal Arizona sports betting while bars are either closed or operating at limited capacity.

Democratic Rep. Diego Espinoza and eight other house members agree. Although the group voted for Weninger’s bill, they said that they want to see the bars and restaurants included in the measure, and that they may not back the bill in the full House if these small business are omitted.