Bill in Legislature Could Permit Arizona Tribes to Offer Sports Gambling
Under a bill put forward by Senator Sonny Borelli, gamblers in Arizona could perhaps soon be placing wagers on sports betting machines at their local watering hole and at tribal casinos. Borrelli (R-Lake Havasu City) wants to allow the tribes to set up gambling kiosks at bars outside each tribe’s respective reservation to take in bets on pro sports. The activity would be taxed under the state amusement tax and at a rate of 6.75 percent.
Senate Bill 1158 is titled, Sports betting; tribes; liquor establishments and is a Republican bill. The bill was introduced on January 24th, 2019, and besides Senator Borrelli, was proposed by Representatives Biasiucci and Finchem.
Sports Betting in Arizona
Right now, the state has no legal sports betting, and residents must drive to a state that offers it. So far, the closest states with legal sports gambling are Nevada and New Mexico; other states with recent legislation and fully-operational sportsbooks are West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Delaware.
In discussing his bill, Borrelli pointed out the benefits that SB 1158 will have for everyone involved:
“This is a great way for the tribes to make some money, a great way for the state to make some money, and for the adult-beverage industry to also make money.”
Borrelli feels that off-site betting machines are essential in order to bring the activity to more people in Arizona. Without these betting machines, the state senator said that he’d have to drive somewhere else in order to place a wager, and he’d rather see that revenue stay in Arizona. Borrelli believes his bill (SB 1158) has a good chance of passing:
“So far I’ve got support from the tribes and support from the bar industry, if you will. Even nonprofits, the Elks, the American Legion are excited. This is something they can have in their lodge or post.”
To this date, Borrelli hasn’t heard if Governor Doug Ducey would sign his bill; however, after the Supreme Court decision last May that overturned the federal ban on sports betting, he tweeted:
This is positive news. We have been working on a modernized gaming compact. This ruling gives Arizona options that could benefit our citizens and our general fund. https://t.co/pGUT6yC8tt
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) May 14, 2018
Sports Betting in the United States
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) essentially restricted sports betting to Nevada. After a long and drawn-out lawsuit, the case eventually went before the Supreme Court. In May 2018 the Justices ruled that PASPA was unconstitutional and overturned the law, leaving it up to each state to decide if and how to legalize sports gambling.
Arizona seems poised to join the ranks of states with legalized sports betting. With the way things are unfolding, it appears that sports betting in Arizona is just a matter of “when” and not “if.”
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