Arizona Sports Betting Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature, Could Launch by Fall

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The Arizona Senate approved a bill on Monday that will bring statewide mobile sports betting and daily fantasy sports as soon as this fall. State bettors would also be allowed to play limited Keno games at off-track betting venues and social clubs. The bill, which should be on the governor’s desk by now, is likely to be signed into law within a few days by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a keen supporter of legal and regulated sports betting in the state.

Smooth Sailing Despite Opposition

Arizona lawmakers have been discussing sports betting bills for the last two months. The state House approved its sports betting bill, HB 2772, on March 4. In the Senate, the identical sister bill, SB 1797, was introduced by primary sponsor Shope, with co-sponsors Sen. Sonny Borelli and Rep. Jeff Weninger. Monday night was chaotic in the Arizona legislature, where senators approved HB 2772 by a 23-6 vote. Then the approved measure was sent to the lower chamber for concurrence, and after consensus from there, the bill was sent to the governor for his signature.

Senate bill backer Sen. T.J. Shope anticipated the quick action last week. Earlier, a Senate committee had attached historical horse racing, termed the “poison pill”, with the sports betting bill that many believe was aimed at killing or at least delaying the legalization of the industry. To prevent this, the bill contained an emergency clause, which required the two-thirds vote to enact. Thanks to this emergency clause, Arizona lawmakers hope to see online sports betting ahead of the upcoming NFL season in September.

Expectations for the Industry

While sports betting will most likely become law in Arizona in a few days, the state will require a few months to finalize regulatory issues including licensing fees, tax rate, and other details. However, some parts of the industry have already been carved out.

The bill allows for 20 operator licenses, including ten for tribal operators and ten for the Grand Canyon State’s professional sports teams. Arizona’s four major professional sports teams – the NFL’s Cardinals, NHL’s Coyotes, MLB’s Diamondbacks, and NBA’s Suns – would also be able to operate sportsbooks at their venues. The licenses include both retail and online operations, and resident can expect to see some of the nation’s major sportsbooks enter the market, including FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM who have all expressed that they are keen to launch.

According to the legislative fiscal note projection, the state’s sports betting annual revenue should be $154.4 million once the market matures.

How Have We Reached Here? 

Arizona State and its gaming tribes have been dabbling in renewing compacts for several years. The existing compacts expire in 2022. Gov. Ducey expressed his keen support for sports betting during his State of the State address earlier this year. Sports betting was a critical part of the new compacts to help modernize gaming and generate new sources of revenue. Ducey’s General Counsel, Anni Foster, said in a committee testimony that the sports betting bills in both chambers were the culmination of the work to extend the tribal compacts.

In March, HB 2772 conveniently sailed through the House with 48-12 votes. But its counterpart bill, SB 1797, stuck initially in Senate after it was merged with a historic horse racing bill, which the Arizona tribes oppose. The HHR bill was stripped from the sports betting bill last week, paving the way for senators to pass it this Monday.

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