Arizona is quite an interesting place when it comes to gambling laws. While in some ways it has been subject to the fairly strict laws regarding gambling both on and offline, a number of Native American tribes means that players have more opportunities than some other in terms of gaming. And 2021 promises to provide more opportunities than ever.
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Given that online gaming is not mentioned explicitly in any laws, some states choose to be content to leave online gambling in a gray area. This is not the case in Arizona. Real money online casinos in Arizona are not supported at all, and considered illegal as with any other form of gambling. Currently there is no way around this for casino gaming, even with online sports betting on the way.
The 2021 gambling legislation that opened the door for online sports and fantasy sports wagering also includes limited Keno games at off-track betting locations and social clubs like the American Legion, Elks Club and the like. But online casino and poker were not included.
Social casinos are available and legal in Arizona, though, both on the internet or as an app, and feature all the popular casino games, including slots, blackjack, video poker and roulette. It is free to play. While you cannot win money playing games at social casinos, the sites like WinStar, LuckyLand and Chumba casino typically offer sweepstakes (games of chance) with prizes that can include real money jackpots.
The same is true for online poker in Arizona. Given the state's long history and tradition opposing gambling, it's unlikely to change soon. Poker can be played in person for fun, so home games are perfectly acceptable but online poker sites that run tournaments and allow stakes are still strictly illegal. Again, this is not likely to change in the near future. However, Native American casinos may be able to offer a solution if permitted by the state legislature to do so. That still seems unlikely anytime soon.
Sports betting in Arizona was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov, Doug Ducey in April 2021. It has not yet been implemented by the hope among advocates is that online sports betting will be activated by football season.
Before that legislation passed, sports betting was illegal at the casinos and online. Native American casinos were included in the deal and will be granted 10 sports betting licenses.
The 2021 law pushed legal sports betting in Arizona across the finish line but was hardly the start of the process. In 2019, a bill was introduced in Phoenix to allow Native American tribes to open up kiosks at bars outside their respective reservations to take bets on sporting events. The bill stalled in the legislature but the seed for the state's sports betting had been planted.
Daily fantasy sports in Arizona was included in the 2021 bill. The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) began the process of implementing fantasy sports and sporting event wagering in April. Soon, perhaps by football season, daily fantasy sports will be among the online wagering options available in Arizona.
Gov. Doug Ducey signs into law a bill to allow online wagering on sports and daily fantasy, days after the legislature passes bills legalizing the practices.
Lawmakers introduce a bill to allow Native American tribes to offer sports betting kiosks at bars outside their respective reservations but it gained little traction in Phoenix at the time.
Compacts are renewed, which allows a total of 21 tribes to operate casinos and slots in the state.
Compacts are signed with tribes to formally allow the offering of casino and slot machines on tribal lands (tribes claimed this was already well within their rights given the act of 1988).
After tribes install slots on their lands, a legal battle ensues between them and the then governor. This continues for about 10 years.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is passed by Congress, which enables the tribes in Arizona to set up and operate their own casinos free from the some of the federal constraints on gambling.
The State Lottery is approved.
Arizona officially becomes a state and laws ban any form of house profit from gambling, effectively outlawing casinos and any other establishment focused on gaming. Social gambling and “amusement gambling” are still allowed.
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