Legal Sports Betting Likely Out in Arizona in 2020


Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images. Pictured: Replica of Liberty Bell in front of Arizona State Capitol Building at sunrise.

Sports betting will likely not be heading to Arizona in 2020.

The Arizona legislature had two bills — one from the House and one from the Senate — up for consideration in its second session, but neither is still being considered.

The House bill covered both commercial and tribal gaming and would not allow online betting.

The bill would force tribes to seek permission from the state of Arizona to open sportsbooks. If that was the case, tribes would have to follow the betting law instead of their current gaming rules.

The Senate bill didn’t cover commercial sportsbooks. Instead, it would allow only tribes to permit sports betting within their 24 casinos throughout the state. It also wouldn’t authorize online betting.

Lawmakers constructed a similar bill in 2019, their first attempt at legalizing sports betting in the state that also never made a serious run.

Neighboring New Mexico finds itself in a situation that looks similar to Arizona’s Senate bill. While a bill hasn’t been passed, Native American tribes have interpreted their sportsbooks are legal, as they adhere to their state tribal gaming compacts.

Despite sponsoring both bills, Representative Stephen Pierce said he believes all businesses should receive a shot at a legal sports betting market.

“I think sports betting legalization is fine and should not be Indians only,” Pierce told LegalSportsBetting. “They should not have a monopoly. The biggest challenge that House Bill 2318 has faced this year is Indian gaming. They believe all gaming or wagering is theirs. It isn’t.”

Pierce said he still thinks legalized sports betting will be in the Grand Canyon State at some point.

Like many other states, legalized sports betting would offer an additional revenue stream for Arizona in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, neither bill will move forward in its current form. Residents will likely have to wait until 2021 for the state’s third shot at legalized sports betting.

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