Arizona Coyotes Pushing for Sports Betting Law Change

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The Arizona Senate Appropriation Committee has recently advanced a bill seeking to reduce the sports betting license requirement for professional sports venues to 5,000.

Currently, the law requires a 10,000 capacity limit.

The Arizona Coyotes had requested the state government to amend the law, allowing them to keep running their online sports betting operation when they move from Glendale to Arizona State University’s hockey arena next season.

Coyotes are among the 10 professional sports entities that were granted a sports betting license prior to September’s launch. In total, there were 20 sports betting licenses – the other 10 were awarded to the state’s native tribes.

Last April, the Copper State had legalized sports betting and went live Sept. 9 – the same day NFL 2021 had kicked off.

Not all licenses became operational when Arizona sports betting went live in September.

Coyotes, a professional team of the National Hockey League, had not partnered with any operator months after the launch. In January, the team announced the launch of SaharaBets, which has been available since Jan. 12 in Arizona.

Why Coyotes Are Changing Stadium?

The NHL team will be playing its home games at the Arizona State University (ASU) for three years until their new hockey arena undergoes a development process.

The new arrangement follows an agreement announced in February between the Coyotes and ASU – the first agreement of its kind between an NHL team and a college team in 100 years.

The Coyotes need a temporary home arena to use until they are able to return to their planned $1.7 billion new stadium in Tempe. The ice hockey team is also investing $20 million in the temporary ASU arena as a part of their agreement to play there for the next three years.

While Gila River Arena has over 18,000 seating capacity, the ASU area seats not more than 5,000 persons. Under the existing law, the Coyotes would not be allowed to continue online betting operations while playing at the ASU arena.

Why is Arizona Indian Gaming Association Opposing it?

The Coyote’s request seeking change in the law is related to its ability to continue operating its mobile app while playing home games on the ASU campus.

But the Copper State’s Native American tribes are opposing the proposals made by the NHL team. The Arizona Indian Gaming Association spoke against any changes to the law culminating in renegotiated compacts between Gov. Doug Ducey and the tribes.

Last Tuesday, the AIGA and several other tribes opposed the last-minute measure approved by the state’s Senate appropriation committee.

However, according to legislative staff, the bill would not change the tribal compact.

The Arizona tribes had exclusive rights to all sports gambling in the state until they gave up those rights to allow the new law to take effect last year. The new law has included Arizona’s professional sports teams in operating sportsbooks.

The Law Change Will Not Affect the Tribes

The Coyotes have made it clear that they don’t plan to open a retail sportsbook at the ASU arena. They just intend to continue operating their online sportsbook. Coyotes’ app – Sahara Bets – had brought in just $62,000 in March handle.

Despite the tribal opposition, most of the committee members support a temporary move that will allow ASU to improve the arena.

Sen. Sonny Borelli said the opposition from the tribe is really upsetting as the law change does not negatively affect the tribes one iota. “It’s moving from one location to the other, and it’s temporary,” the lawmaker said.

In January, the Coyotes launched the state’s 12th sportsbook. By the end of February, all 18 operators licensed ahead of September’s launch were live.

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