Arizona Must Consider Tribes When Crafting Sports Betting Law

The post Arizona Must Consider Tribes When Crafting Sports Betting Law appeared first on SportsHandle.

Arizona lawmakers are finding themselves in a pinch similar to other states — it’s slow going on the sports betting front because of existing tribal compacts with Indian gaming interests. Arizona hasn’t made any real progress on sports betting this year, and part of the reason is what’s often referred to as the “poison pill” that states dealing with tribal compacts must consider.

In Arizona’s case, according to a recent report from the Bloomberg, the state would lose significant revenue should it introduce sports betting without reworking the tribal pacts. The state has deals with more than 20 tribes, each of which pay the state a tax of up to 8 percent — which translates into about $80 million annually — on gaming revenue. From the Bloomberg story, Stephen Hart, who practices Indian and gaming law, said Arizona would be hard-pressed to pass a sports betting law that would allow the state or commercial interests to offer sports betting, but not the local tribes.

The current gaming compact dates to 2002 and was approved by voters. Tribal leaders are open to adding sports betting to their repertoire and working with the state to hammer out an agreement.

AZ Sports Betting Law Would Have to Include Reworking Tribal Pacts.

“We are looking forward to discussing with the state how we can go about working together on developing this opportunity, which could be a win/win for the state of Arizona and Arizona tribes,” Stephen Roe Lewis, governor of the Gila River Indian community told 12 News in May.

But working with tribes is tricky, as lawmakers in Connecticut, Michigan and many other states are learning. In Connecticut, outgoing governor Dannel Malloy was pushing for a special session to legalize sports betting, but put that on the back burner after failing to come to an agreement with the state’s two Indian tribes. In Michigan, Representative Brandt Iden, who was hoping to move quickly with sports betting legislation, tabled much of the discussion for the summer so he could focus on negotiating with the state’s tribes.

Of the six states that have legalized sports betting to date, only Mississippi has tribal gaming, but the tribes do not have any relationship with the state’s gaming commission.

The Arizona legislature has considered sports betting and daily fantasy in past sessions, but neither has gained much traction.

The post Arizona Must Consider Tribes When Crafting Sports Betting Law appeared first on SportsHandle.

Are Western States Lagging on Sports Betting? Mountain States

The post Are Western States Lagging on Sports Betting? Mountain States appeared first on SportsHandle and was written by Robert H. Mann. 

This story is the second of two detailing the latest situations in the west.  To read the first installment on the status in the West Coast states, click here.

Six states have either legalized sports betting or issued licenses for companies to offer sports betting since the Supreme Court on May 14 struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, making sports betting a states’ rights issue. All of those states are located in the east or south. Activity with regard to sports betting has been remarkably limited in the western states.

To no one’s shock, as the more western states see the revenue being generated in newly opened eastern sports betting markets, such as New Jersey and Delaware, legislators are growing increasingly eager to access, for their own jurisdictions, the tax dollars that sports betting can generate. Some states will require a change in gambling laws, others may need a state constitutional amendment in which voters could decide the issue.

As East Coast States Go Full Speed Ahead, When or Will Colorado or New Mexico Legal Sports Betting Arrive? 


Arizona, like many of its western neighbors, is a state where tribal gaming is dominant. After PAPSA was overturned, government officials, including governor Doug Ducey, quickly acknowledged that new laws would be needed to legalize sports betting and that this presented an opportunity to look at all tribal compacts in Arizona with the goal of modernizing and updating them.

Arizona has gaming compacts with more than 20 tribes that limit the types and number of games allowed at casinos and require the tribes to contribute 1-8 percent of gaming revenue to state and local governments. The state has taken in more than $1 billion since 2002, when casino gambling became legal in the state.

“This ruling (overturning PAPSA) gives Arizona options that could benefit our citizens and our general fund,” Ducey tweeted in May.

Attorney general Mark Brnovich, a former director of the state Department of Gaming, filed an amicus brief with the court last September, arguing the ban had violated states’ rights.

The next legislative session in Arizona begins on Jan. 14, 2019.

Brnovich said Arizona law generally bans gambling, with exceptions for things like the lottery, horse racing and compacts with tribes. Social gambling between friends is legal, but betting organized by a third party that takes a cut of the money is not.

The attorney general reminded residents in May that online gambling in the form of sports fantasy leagues run by third parties is illegal under Arizona law. However, online gambling in the form of casino games is legal in the state.

To see how the other seven states are approaching sports betting visit SportsHandle through the link below.

Are Western States Lagging? Mountain States Update