Arizona could go all-in on sports betting

Sports gambling is a popular attraction in Nevada casinos, and it could potentially become a part of Arizona casinos.

Arizona state Sen. Sonny Borrelli proposed S.B. 1158 in late January, a bill that would legalize sports gambling. Under the legislation, recognized  Native American tribes with a state gaming compact could operate sports betting if they choose. In fact, Sen. Borrelli hopes to incorporate sports betting into bars and taverns as well.

“Every casino that does sports betting in Nevada, you have to go into the casino to play,” Borrelli said. “But I can also walk to a kiosk, which is nothing more than a communication device. What I want to do is put that kiosk in establishments with liquor licenses of series 6 [full-service bars], 7 [beer and wine bars], and 14 [clubs]. This would not work in a restaurant, which is good because this is where kids go.”

The senator believes that sports gambling will open new streams of revenue in Arizona, including the tribes, bars and clubs, and the state itself.

The bill calls for the same gaming tax rate as Nevada – 6.75 percent. Last year, Nevada raked in more than $256 million in tax revenue from sports betting alone, according to sports betting journal The Lines. Borrelli believes Arizona could see the same revenue if the legislation passes.

But the Native American tribes must come to an agreement before any of this could take place.

The Arizona Indian Gaming Association (AIGA) explains that this could be a great compact under the right terms.

“The tribes have an interest in expanding–if it’s done correctly–into sports betting,” AIGA spokesman Jaime Molera said. “However, they believe it needs to be done under the details of the agreement with the state. We want to do an amendment to the current compact instead of creating a new compact altogether.”

Once all affected parties settle upon a mutually beneficial agreement, Molera believes that this will create new opportunities for both tribal casinos and the state.

“The tribes have said all along that they understand the market is clamoring for sports betting,” Molera said. “It’s good exposure, and people are interested in sports betting. It could be a good source of revenue for both the tribes and the state. If it’s done right, there might be an opportunity to do that.”

Ben Norman

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