Sports betting is illegal in the state of Arizona. But that does not mean the Grand Canyon State is not attempting to change that. There was a sports betting bill introduced in late 2021 but eventually lost momentum in the legislative session. Now in 2021, there will be two competing bills to bring legalized sports betting to Arizona.
One of those proposed bills would allow individual sports books to offer wagering on horse racing, dog racing and sailboat racing. Opponents fear this would open the door for Internet gamblers to wager on all sports. Another amendment proposes to allow online gambling at race tracks only. The House approved an amendment to the previous bill, which placed limits on the amount of money that could be taken from an online account to bet on a sport and to allow sports books to accept wagers made by anyone with a valid identification card. The House also passed a bill that prohibits gambling from being conducted by minors. This means that minors cannot legally gamble at online sportsbooks if they do not know that they can.
The House also passed a resolution encouraging the adoption of Arizona’s unique SB 1525 which allows casinos to operate within the borders of Arizona even if they are not licensed to do so. SB 1525 passed the Senate last November with a vote of 51-5. The House is now considering whether the measure should be sent to a final vote before the summer recess. If it passes, it will likely face a legal challenge from opponents who argue that it encroaches on the authority of the state attorney general and violates the rights of citizens to regulate themselves. Proponents say that the new law will protect Arizona residents from gambling, protect the financial interest of sports book operators and help insulate the traditional gambling from competition from internet sites that use software and other technologies to eliminate the need for gambling.
Opponents argue that there is no evidence that gambling is more prevalent or profitable on the internet than it is on the land-based casinos. They also point out that many cities throughout the U.S. have taken action against internet gambling. In addition, the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly ruled that states cannot ban gambling even when they choose to do so. Even in states where the constitution allows gambling, the courts have been unwilling to strike down blanket laws or overturned individual gambling regulations as in the case of Oregon v. Oregon Casinos.
There are many who support the legalization of sports betting in Arizona though. The founder and operator of a prominent Arizona sports betting site, Matt Hayes, believes that the spirit of the law is ill-defined. “I think it was ill-defined because it wasn’t very clear what was illegal and what was not illegal,” he said. According to him, blanket definitions of gambling are dangerous because the courts will be open to appeal if a legislature attempts to redefine the law in an attempt to pass something it doesn’t want to enforce. He also points out that gambling is against the grain of what the traditionalist members of the state legislature want to promote.
When the Arizona House of Representatives began debating the issue of legal sports betting at the start of the legislative session, Assemblyman Tomendale proposed to amend the code to allow both gambling and card games on the same site. The House passed the bill, but the Senate soon followed suit. Now it will head to the governor for a signature.
Proponents of legalized online gambling in Arizona believe that the addition of casino-style games will entice tourists to the state, drawing the attention of both residents and visitors. Arizona’s tourism industry has suffered a great deal over the past few years, resulting in budget cuts to numerous programs. Legal online gambling will attract more tourists to the area and will help offset the losses suffered by the Arizona casino and card room industry over the past several years.
If you live in Arizona and you’re interested in participating in an online sportsbook, you’ll need to do some research before deciding which sportsbook is best. Look for a website that offers a free trial and does not charge a subscription fee. Make sure the website is FDIC insured and offers a high degree of security for online transactions. If you decide to open a sportsbook, remember to carefully follow all of the laws and regulations related to gambling in Arizona, including those imposed on online sportsbooks. While the law does not prohibit gambling online, you may be held personally liable if you conduct business in a manner inconsistent with the law. Don’t take any chances.