Sports betting is still not legal in the state of Arizona. However, that doesn’t mean that the Grand Canyon State isn’t trying to change that. A sports betting bill popped up in early 2019 but eventually lost steam early in the legislature. Now in 2020, there are two bills that have a chance to bring legal sports betting to Arizona. One is a clone of the 2019 bill while another is a new bill altogether and that one may be Arizona’s best chance.
Two Bills That Could Legalize Sports Betting in Arizona in 2020
If Arizona is going to have legal sports betting at some point this year, it will likely be thanks to one of two bills. The two bills that are currently in the Arizona legislator that deal with sports betting are HB 2813 and SB 1525.
HB 2813 is a sports betting bill that is sponsored by Senator Sonny Borrelli (Republican) and Representative Stephen Pierce (Republican). Under the bill, sports betting would be legal in Arizona at retail locations. Horse racing tracks would also be eligible to offer sports betting if the bill were to pass. Tribal casinos would also benefit as they would be deemed eligible to offer sports betting as well.
While tribes would be able to offer sports betting under the bill, they still are not particularly happy about this specific bill. According to HB 2813, tribal casinos would be eligible to open sportsbooks at their casinos but only with the permission of the state of Arizona. The tribes feel they should be able to offer sports betting without the permission of the state. If they are required by the state to seek permission instead of being able to conduct legal sports betting on their own, the tribes will be forced to follow rules under the new law as opposed to their current gaming compacts.
The Arizona Indian Gaming Association (AIGA) has been against this bill for the reason of needing permission from the state to conduct legal sports betting. The AIGA and their opposition could prove trouble for this bill if it continues to progress. Currently, the bill is still sitting in the House.
Not only are the tribes against the bill but some members of the House aren’t too fond of the bill either. A number of members have expressed interest in seeing some amendments to the bill. The Arizona Department of Gaming would serve as the regulatory body for sports betting under HB 2813. The bill does not allow for mobile or online betting.
SB 1525 is essentially a remade bill from last year’s session. SB 1158 was the bill directed towards legalizing sports betting in the 2019 legislative session in Arizona. The bill last year didn’t make it very far and the results may be similar again this year.
SB 1525, like HB 2813, is also sponsored by both Borelli and Pierce. They were also the sponsors for last year’s SB 1158 that failed to make a serious run in the Arizona legislature. Like HB 2813, SB 1525 would also allow for legal sports betting on tribal lands.
Of the 24 tribal casinos located in Arizona, each one would be eligible to offer sports betting. Sports betting would be allowed through sportsbooks and kiosks. Mobile and online sports betting would not be allowed under the bill. The bill would require a voter referendum if passed, making it even more difficult to become a law.
Best and Worst-Case Scenarios For Arizona
The legislative session in Arizona ends on April 25th. That means Arizona has just a couple of weeks to push one of these bills through. The odds of that happening appear next to none. Not only have those two sports betting bills been stagnant for the past month or so, but the issue with the tribes is also another hurdle on its own. Neither bill has made any significant progress and there has been no news to suggest that will change in the final two weeks of the legislative session.
In a utopian scenario for Arizona, sports betting would somehow get passed in the next two weeks. The odds are incredibly slim that will happen. However, even if it does happen, Arizona will be limited to legal sports betting on tribal casino property only. There will be no mobile or online sports betting legal in Arizona in 2020.
The worst-case scenario, and most likely scenario, is that these bills stay put and the session ends yet again without a sports betting bill making any significant progress. Sports betting is not legalized in Arizona in 2020 and next year The Grand Canyon State will start back at square one, again. The tribes will continue to have issues with any future wording of any sports betting bills, causing even more issues and delays. Adding on to the worst-case scenario would be if the House and Senate can’t agree on terms for a sports betting bill next year either and Arizona wastes another year arguing amongst itself.
Legal sports betting is all but dead in Arizona for 2020. It will still take some luck for Arizona to even legalize sports betting in 2021. It appears there are a number of hurdles for Arizona in its path to legalized sports betting. Even if Arizona manages to pass a sports betting bill in the 2021 session, a voter referendum may still be needed to actually legalize the bill. It will still take months from that time for legal sports betting to officially launch due to licensing and regulation issues. Therefore, it is likely that Arizona won’t see some form of legal sports betting at least until 2022, possibly even later.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Sports betting is not currently legal in Arizona. There are currently two bills in the state legislature that could legalize sports betting in 2020. However, the session ends on April 25th, meaning that time is almost up for Arizona to legalize sports betting this year.
There is no way to tell for sure when sports betting will be legalized in Arizona. It is all but a certainty that it won’t happen in 2020. It is possible that sports betting will be legalized in 2021 with a bit of luck. However, it may be until 2022 before any legal sports betting becomes available in Arizona.
Since sports betting is not legal in Arizona, there are no actual laws pertaining to what you can and can’t bet on. However, based on the bills we have seen over the last year or so, it appears that mobile and online sports betting will not be a part of the initial legal sports betting launch in Arizona.
In Arizona, residents are subject to a 5.0% tax withholding on lottery winnings while non-residents are subject to 6.0%. Lottery winnings of $600 or less are not reported to the IRS. Winnings in excess of $5,000 are subject to a 25 percent federal withholding tax.
Three of the five states bordering Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, all have legal sports betting. Colorado recently legalized sports betting last November but they have yet to launch any legal sportsbooks. Colorado is expected to launch sports betting on May 1st, 2020.
No. There is no legal way for Arizona residents to bet on sports online in their home state. Based on the bills that have been filed for sports betting over the past two years, online sports betting may not be legal in Arizona for some time. None of the bills filed allowed for legal online sports betting.
No. Arizona is one of just six states that generally consider daily fantasy sports illegal. DraftKings, FanDuel and other major DFS sites do not operate in Arizona. It is unknown if and when Arizona plans on addressing DFS in regards to legalizing it.
No. FanDuel does not operate in Arizona. Sports betting and daily fantasy sports are both illegal in Arizona, therefore FanDuel does not operate in Arizona. However, whenever Arizona does legalize sports betting and/or DFS, look for FanDuel to be one of the first companies to enter the state.
No. DraftKings does not operate in Arizona. Sports betting and daily fantasy sports are both illegal in Arizona, therefore DraftKings does not operate in Arizona. However, whenever Arizona does legalize sports betting and/or DFS, look for DraftKings to be one of the first companies to enter the state.
There is no set timeline for how long it takes to launch sports betting from the time it is legalized. If Arizona does just legalize sports betting on tribal lands, it may only take a couple of months. Arizona could have a relatively quick turnaround from legalization to launch.