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Concerns Loom with Arizona Sports Betting

Arizona is one of the many states looking to legalize sports betting in 2021, but that attempt has been running into some opposition of late. There is a bill in the Arizona Senate that would create a gaming expansion throughout the state, but that bill has been criticized by some in the legislature.

Senate Bill 1797 was advanced out of the Senate Committee on Commerce last week, but not before a heated debate took place. The bill officially passed by a close vote of 6-3, but the Committee on Commerce expressed “concerns” about pushing the bill forward.

The Appropriation’s Committee will now take a closer look at the bill before determining if they wish to send it to the entire Senate. Several senators have already spoken out against the gambling expansion bill, and that could lead to this bill being voted against without much debate or discussion.

Native American tribes have announced their full support for SB 1797, with some of them even giving testimony at the Senate Committee on Commerce meeting. Native American tribes are set to have the most to gain from a gambling expansion package, but only if it is done with them in mind.

Governor Doug Ducey has been looking to negotiate new gaming contracts with the Native American tribes, and he wants to include sports betting. The two sides have already started to work on an agreement, but nothing can become official until the lawmakers pass a law.

The Kindred Group has already reached a 10-year agreement with the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation in anticipation of sports betting becoming legal. This could allow the Unibet Sportsbook to be one of the first in the state to launch if this becomes an option.

Could House Bill Provide Solution?

House Bill 2272 could provide another path into legal sports betting in Arizona, and that bill appears to have less opposition. HB 2272 passed through the House Rules Committee by a 9-1 vote and will now head to the full House for review.

This bill is sponsored by Republican Jeff Weninger, and it also seeks to legalize other forms of betting in the state. Both online and in-person sports betting would be allowed under his proposal, but some off-track betting sites could also begin offering games such as Keno.

Weninger has also been able to attract support from professional sports organizations in the state, and that could entice other lawmakers to join in as well. The Arizona Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the PGA Tour all expressed support for HB 2272, but others will back the bill as well. This would be similar to how other states have pushed similar sports betting bills through their legislatures.

One of the biggest proponents of this bill is that the major professional teams in Arizona would be able to offer in-person betting at their stadiums or within a certain radius. Online betting could also be offered, and each team would be allowed to partner with an operator.

It’s unclear which bill will gain the most traction in the coming weeks, but the House seems to be working to advance Bill 2272 through much quicker.

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