Arizona considers tribal sports betting bill

25 January 2019

Arizona lawmakers will run the rule over a new sports betting bill that would legalise land-based tribal sports wagering within the state but prohibit betting on collegiate sporting events.

Put forward by Senator Sonny Borrelli and Representatives Mark Finchem and Leo Biasiucci, SB 1158 sets out that each federally recognised tribe in Arizona with headquarters in the state would be able to offer sports betting. The bill is the first of its kind to be introduced in Arizona.

This would not be limited to casinos, with tribes able to provide sports betting via kiosks or self-service terminals at one or more premises that hold a bar licence, beer and wine bar or private club licence. Facilities would not need to be located on tribal lands to offer sports betting services.

Tribes would also be able to enter into agreements with non-tribal entities to provide the services and technologies required to offer sports betting via exclusive agreements.

There are currently 16 federally recognised tribes in Arizona, which collectively operate 24 casino gambling facilities across the state.

Should the bill come into law, tribes would pay tax at a minimum rate of 6.75% of adjusted gross revenue. This matches the current Nevada rate is significantly lower than in Pennsylvania, which legalised sports betting last year with a tax rate of 36%.

Players would be able to bet on a wide range of sports, but would not be able to place wagers on any collegiate sports events organised by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The Arizona Department of Gaming would assume responsibility for regulating the industry and have some discretion over implementation, including ensuring that betting is carried out in a manner consistent with tribal gaming regulations.

The bill does not make reference to either online or mobile sports betting, with Arizona consumers seemingly set to be limited to placing wagers in-person. SB 1158 also omits any language about an integrity or royalty fee for sports leagues.

Arizona would not be the first state to allow legal sports betting via tribal gaming regulations. In October last year, USBookmaking teamed up with the Santa Ana Star Casino near Albuquerque, New Mexico, to launch a sports betting service.

International Game Technology (IGT) is also working with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, providing its PlayDigital PlayShot sports betting solution at the Pearl River Resorts' Golden Moon Hotel & Casino and Silver Star Hotel & Casino in Choctaw in the state, as well as the Bok Homa Casino in Sandersville.

Image: Wing-Chi Poon