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Arizona Pushes Legal Sports Betting Off for 2020

Arizona is one of just 28 states that have yet to legalize the sports betting industry in the United States. It appeared that the state was on the brink of making this landmark decision earlier this year, but talks have now been tabled until 2021.

Senate Bill 1525 was introduced earlier this year, and it would have given Native American tribes exclusive rights to the sports betting industry. That bill failed to make it out of committee, but lawmakers quickly put together another bill.

House Bill 2813 was introduced in March, and it would have allowed both commercial and tribal casinos to offer sports betting. That bill did make it out of committee, and it was gaining plenty of traction prior to the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the United States. 

Lawmakers were hoping to discuss the issue further at some point in 2020, but they have had other bills taking up most of their time. A decision was finally made to table the bill until 2021, leaving Arizona without sports betting of any kind. 

Navajo Nation A Huge Force

The state has a tribal gaming compact with 16 of the 22 Native American tribes in the state, and this compact could easily be amended to include sports betting. The biggest problem facing the state is the Navajo Tribe, which currently does not have a compact signed.

The Navajo Tribe is the biggest in Arizona, and that tribe will want a piece of the sports betting action. Lawmakers are hoping to get the tribe’s support before they begin discussing the sports betting bill again. 

Native American tribes have played a vital role in other states when it comes to sports betting, and it will be the case in Arizona. 

Deal Could Be Fast-tracked

Even though lawmakers were unable to get a bill pass through the legislature in 2020, there is reason to believe that it will happen in 2021. There is plenty of motivation for the state to legalize the industry, and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased that need.

Senator Sonny Borelli believes that a sports betting bill will be fast-tracked in 2021, and it will take precedence over other bills. The bill has already made it out of committee, which is a big hurdle to get something legalized. 

One issue that will face Arizona in 2021 is what to make of mobile or online sports betting. Online gambling is not legalized in the state, and there hasn’t been any discussion on the topic.

Two of the fastest-growing sports industries in the United States, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, get more than 90% of all sports bets from an online source. If Arizona is going to see a huge increase in revenue, the state will need to launch mobile betting. 

When lawmakers in Arizona begin discussing the legalization of sports betting at some point in 2021, it will be interesting to see what is made of mobile betting. It will likely take some major support from the Navajo Tribe before anything starts to take shape.

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