Momentum is building for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to introduce sports betting in the Grand Canyon state. A new bill proposed in the state house would allow online wagering, fantasy sports contests and keno games.
The bill, put forward by Rep. Jeff Weninger, would specifically allow these offerings from off-track betting locations and social clubs, like the American Legion. It comes as Ducey is working on a deal to allow sports betting at tribal casinos and venues owned by professional sports teams.
With a very Republican talking point, Weninger explained the benefits of his bill. “With that comes tax revenue without raising taxes, and allows us to keep our tax rates low,” Weninger said.
The bill takes into account Ducey’s push as well, allowing 10 licenses to go to por sports teams, like the Phoenix Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Cardinals, but could also be extended to pro golf and racing. Licenses would also be made available to the two dozen tribal casinos in the state.
Getchen Conger, Ducey’s deputy chief of staff, hailed the bill as a way to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and repair the state’s budget. But she recognized that they still don’t fully understand how much money there is to gain from the push. “This is the million-dollar question,” Conger said. “It really depends on what the uptake is on the event wagering.”
For everything to work out, the bill would have to become law and a new 20-year extension to the state’s tribal compacts must be adopted. Ducey was hopeful they could get this done in his State of the State address. He sees it as “an opportunity for a modernized gaming compact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget.”
But he has to get the tribes on board. They have exclusive rights to most gambling currently, and while the proposed deal would allow them new casinos, expanding the industry to other potential licensees could cut into their monopoly. While offering them new exclusive rights, like baccarat and craps might sweeten the deal, we’ll have to see if they’ll be willing to share in the sports betting goldrush.