HB 2813 would make land-based betting legal in Arizona, and allow commercial and tribal casinos to set up retail sportsbooks
The state of Arizona has decided to incline towards a two-pillar focus approach towards the legalization of sports betting in 2020. Specifically, several lawmakers have focused on gaining support from both the House of Representatives and Senate, but both attempts have not fallen through. This is due to tribal operators not approving proposed draft bills, whilst lawmakers have had their reservations.
HB 2813, a sports betting bill backed by Republican Senator Sonny Borelli, along with the Republican Representative Stephen Pierce, was the first attempt with an aim to empower retail betting shops.
Should this bill pass, it would make land-based betting legal in Arizona, at the same time permitting commercial and tribal casinos to set up retail sportsbooks.
Even though tribes do seem to benefit under the draft legislation, the tribal representatives have been very reluctant to endorse it. One reason being the notion that they would lose their sovereignty and depend on the state of Arizona for approval to set up their betting shops.
On the other hand, tribes do believe that they are entitled to have the sole role to launch betting products vested in them as per gambling compacts negotiated with the state.
The Arizona Indian Gaming Association (AIGA) is also defiant of such a bill and therefore, another reason why HB 2813 is currently on hold.
In addition, the bill does not permit online and mobile betting, which for the majority of players can be seen as an inconvenience along with the fact that a good number of representatives of the House are also against HB 2813.
Senate needed for SB 1525
Meanwhile, Borelli and Pierce have also been trying to push on with SB 1525, a revised version of SB 1158 which appeared in 2019 and failed to garner support.
If such a revised bill is accepted, this would mean that every casino belonging to a tribe in Arizona will be allowed to offer some sort of sportsbetting. On the other hand, online and mobile sportsbetting wouldn't be allowed and, therefore, a referendum would be needed to enact the legislation.
A referendum usually takes months to set up, however, and that is why this year’s bill is most likely not to make it until at least next year.
The Final Decision on Sports Betting from Tribes
In fact, not all tribal operators oppose the idea of sportsbetting in Arizona. However, it is required that all tribes agree with such a notion. In consequence, should not all tribes show enough support for the legalization of sportsbetting, the law would have to be postponed once again as all tribes in a compact should sign off to any type of expansion to the compact. This is according to Tucson attorney Steven Hart.
Due to the current impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, It seems extremely unlikely for any bill to make it through to becoming a law as referendums are required and usually takes several months to organize. A more realistic timeline for the adoption of sport betting in Arizona is inclined to take place during 2022.
As of now, Arizona remains one of the states facing financial problems because of the pandemic which is why any ideas to recover the economy of the state are welcome. One of the proposed ways is, of course, to allow both state casinos and tribal casinos to legalize retail sports betting.
In conclusion, it seems that even though market analysis indicates that Arizona must rethink the notion of including mobile sportsbetting as it will bring along a much needed financial push to the state, Arizona will have to hold tight because sports betting is a long way off.
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