Tribal Sports Gaming Being Considered in Arizona

Summary: Legislation has been introduced in Arizona to legalize tribal sports betting, an option that would be a first for the United States.

Across the United States, Native American tribes operate casino gaming. Tribes that have been federally recognized have the right to operate casinos on reservation lands. With changes taking place in the gambling landscape of the US, with sports betting now an option, tribal groups want in on the action. In Arizona, a new bill was introduced last week that would legalize sports betting for tribes. This would be a first in the US, distinguishing the option for Native Americans.

New Bill

Arizona CasinosLast Wednesday, three state officials of Arizona introduced a bill that would allow federally recognized tribes to offer electronic sports betting kiosks. These kiosks could be located off reservation lands, in venues such as stadiums, clubs and bars. The tribes that could operate such sports betting options would have to have a state gaming compact with the state to be approved for sports betting operations.

The legislation would allow anyone over 21 to lease the machines from the tribe and offer the kiosks in their establishments. Examples of such facilities include the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Affairs, private clubs that often offer gaming.

An existing law would place a cap on the amount of machines a tribe can offer. Additional machines are not included in this legislation. State lawmakers see the option as a great way for the state to be able to have more revenues.

Wagers placed within a casino would be taxed at 8.5% as set in a gaming compact sharing agreement. Wagers from the kiosks that are located off-site would be taxed at a lower 6.5% rate based on adjusted gross receipts.

Estimated Revenues

Studies have been conducted as to just how much revenue the sports betting machines could bring to the state. A study from 2017 by Oxford revealed that as much as $26 million could be created from a 10% tax rate. Another study estimated a wider range, from just over $480,000 to $2.3 million.

There is worry that the new sports betting option, if approved, would hurt the lottery. Research has suggested that sports betting takes away from other items such as the lottery. This may hurt the legislation going forward if some lawmakers are worried that the new option would take away from lottery earnings.

The bill’s language also may leave off-track betting venues from taking part in sports betting, which may also cause a problem. The bill restricts the kiosks to facilities that have a 6, 7 or 14 liquor license. Venues without such licensing are unable to apply for the new gaming option. This restriction as put in place to keep such machines out of restaurants and grocery stores to protect families.

The type of wagers allowed via the new option have yet to be determined. The Arizona Department of Gaming will be in charge of determining what will be offered. The bill has an emergency clause so that it will go into effect immediately once the governor signs it. Even if the measure does pass, it may be some time before the department determines what type of gaming can be offered in the state.

All eyes will be on the new bill and if this will be the first time a Native American tribe is given such rights to operate sports betting games.