It actually seems a little bit surprising that Arizona has not moved forward with sports betting. With the mecca of sports betting in nearby Las Vegas, a good supply of casinos, New Mexico already on board, and Colorado coming in 2020, Arizona seems like the type of state that would have been all about legalized sports betting.
There have just been too many catches and caveats to really get going. There are a lot of gaming establishments in and around the major cities and also spread across the state. The Phoenix area has several, including a Harrah’s (Caesars) property about 35 minutes outside of town. There are casino mega-structures like Talking Stick and the Gila River properties that both spend lots of money advertising with sports teams or have acquired naming rights for venues.
Despite a lot of things that would seem to be working in Arizona’s favor, sports betting just has not taken hold as of yet.
Part of the problem is that the state needs to get on board with the Native American tribes. Sixteen tribes operate 24 casinos within the state of Arizona. Tribal gaming compacts are much different than the more traditional gaming agreements held by major corporations in other states across the country. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act often butts heads against what state government officials are proposing.
Furthermore, any expansion of gaming to include sports betting would likely have to make it through a public vote after making its way through a congressional vote from the State Senate and the State House.
Several bills have been tried and have failed. There are fiduciary factors in play here as well. The state would want to be able to get its cut from kiosks, betting windows, or online apps. Most states funnel revenues and taxes back into education from sports betting. In states where the majority of gaming facilities are made up of tribal properties, those tribes and the states often have a hard time coming to an agreement as to which pieces of the pie are going where and that is one of many significant hurdles in the state of Arizona.
Eventually, something will have to give and Arizona will start accepting sports wagers. Whether or not the state will be limited to retail-only wagering or will find a way to offer online sports betting remains to be seen. Too much money is at stake, particularly in a state that has several professional sports teams and a lot of events that draw big crowds, including things like the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Super Bowls.
It just seems like it will continue to take some more time. At this point, a sports betting bill that all sides agree upon seems like a long shot for 2020, but we could see something come together fairly quickly for 2021 or 2022 as more states, like Colorado and Michigan, provide something of a framework for navigating the delicate balance between the tribes and the state government.
For right now, you cannot bet on sports in Arizona, but there are several options for those that are looking to place bets. A trip up to Las Vegas or any of the border town casinos is the most obvious solution for those that want to get their wagers in. Nevada is a retail and a mobile wagering state, so you will have no problem getting your bets in once you get all set up with accounts at the various operators.
New Mexico takes retail sports bets, so you can head east across the border and put your bets down at the brick-and-mortar properties that do allow wagering.
As soon as the second quarter of 2020, you will be able to go north to Colorado and place bets from anywhere in the state. Colorado has been approved for mobile and online wagering, so you must simply be located within the borders of the state in order to place your action. Unlike Nevada and other states like Illinois and Iowa, you do not have to complete in-person registration. You can sign up from anywhere and fund your account, so long as the geolocation tracking places you within the borders of the state.
There are options for Arizonans looking to bet. Unfortunately, there aren’t any in the state for now, but hold tight. Sooner rather than later, legalized betting should come to Arizona.