Arizona Approves Sports Betting, Hopes to Launch in Fall

Arizona Approves Sports Betting, Hopes to Launch in Fall
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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who earlier this year advocated for new gaming opportunities, got his wish Monday as the Arizona Senate approved a bill that will bring online sports betting and other gaming to the state.

The Arizona Senate on Monday night passed SB 1797, a bill to legalize event wagering and daily fantasy sports. The 23-6-1 vote came after the state Senate Committee on Rules advanced the bill to the full Senate earlier in the day.

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The bill, which has been backed by Ducey, is awaiting his signature, which could come as soon as this week. In his State of the State address in February, he said it was “an opportunity for a modernized gaming compact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget.”

Arizona, in somewhat of a surprise, now joins South Dakota (retail sports betting at Deadwood casinos), Wyoming sportsbooks and Maryland (online and retail sports betting) as states that have approved legislation legalizing sports betting this year. New York has also included online sports betting revenue in its fiscal 2022 budget.

SB 1797, which had had been withdrawn from the Senate Appropriations Committee last Thursday, was introduced by primary sponsor T.J. Shope (R) with co-sponsors Sen. Sonny Borelli (R) and Rep. Jeff Weninger (R). Shope indicated on Friday that he thought it “will be a very positive vote” on Monday.

The bill allows for sports betting online and daily fantasy sports. It also adds limited Keno games at off-track betting locations and social clubs like the American Legion, Elks Club, etc. The bill does not include online casino gaming or poker.

Lawmakers in the state are hoping for online sports betting to start prior to the upcoming NFL season in early September. This means sports betting in Arizona could be legalized very soon.

Bill Was Backed By Pro Teams

According to the legislation, the four Arizona major professional sports teams — the NFL's Cardinals, NBA's Suns, NHL's Coyotes and MLB's Diamondbacks — could operate sports betting at their venues, at separate retail locations within a quarter mile of the stadiums/arenas and online. Not surprisingly, the pro sports teams supported it.

During legislative hearings, Phoenix Raceway, the PGA Tour and representatives from BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel also showed their support.

There would also be 10 sports betting licenses for the state’s tribes.

A companion bill in the state House, HB 2772, has already been approved.

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