A new bill that would see Arizona’s tribal casinos and professional sports teams run sports betting operations has been passed by an Arizona House committee.
House Bill 2772, proposed by Rep. Jeff Weninger will legalize online fantasy sports betting and in-person sports betting at existing tribal casinos and sites owned by the state’s professional sports teams. The state’s horse tracks would also be permitted to provide additional sports wagering options.
There are six sporting venues that are eligible for sports betting operations under the new bill.
- Phoenix Raceway
- TPC Scottsdale
- Gila River Arena — Arizona Coyotes
- Talking Stick Resort Arena — home of the Phoenix Suns
- Chase Field — Arizona Diamondbacks
- State Farm Stadium — Arizona Cardinals
While the majority of house representatives were behind the bill, there were some objections based on the fact that local bars have been left out of the deal and would miss out on significant revenue generated by fantasy sports wagering in particular.
David Delos, president of the Arizona Licensed Beverage Association, spoke to the House Commerce Committee saying:
“How can it be that in Arizona that only the big players seem to benefit while small businesses operating with restrictions and being asked to operate under reduced capacity for the foreseeable future are not even mentioned in this bill”
Delos was referring to the many bars that are in danger of going out of business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Delos received some support from legislators such as Democratic Rep. Diego Espinoza of Tolleson who voted for the bill on the condition that bars and possibly restaurants would be included in a later amendment.
The only representative to cast a ‘no’ vote was Democratic Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley of Tucson.
Speaking of the proposed bill she said:
“Gambling is an addiction. People lose their homes and their livelihood from gambling. I think we need to realize that we could have unintended consequences from expansion of gambling.”
The proposal then went before the senate where it has stalled somewhat. It’s believed that senators hadn’t anticipated such a swift decision from the house and are not yet ready to discuss the bill.
Unsurprisingly, the bill has been welcomed by the state’s tribal associations and major pro sports teams.
Amilyn Pierce Vice President Government Affairs, at the Arizona Diamondbacks felt that the potential revenue was hard to ignore.
“We cannot allow Arizona to fall behind, putting our sports teams at a significant disadvantage in a competitive market,”
It’s believed that the state will place an 8% tax on sports betting which would then go to special state accounts and local governments. Projections suggest that this could amount to as much as $42 million per year in additional state revenue.
Image credit: Wars / CC BY 2.5