The governors of Arizona and Kentucky have voiced their support for legalizing sports betting in their states.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey sent a document to lawmakers Wednesday which outlined a new compact between the state government and the Arizona tribes that have exclusivity on gaming rights within the state, according to a report from local media.
The original compacts were negotiated, and approved by voters, in 2002. These agreements were in place for 20 years, and as they begin to expire over the next 12 months, it gives Ducey the opening to allow the tribes to offer sports betting, and increase revenues which the state gets a piece of.
In order for Ducey’s plan to succeed, he will need the legislature to repeal existing laws that prohibit sports betting. In the document he sent to lawmakers, he said that his goal was to have expanded gaming that was “limited and well-regulated.”
In 2019, Sen. Sonny Borrelli introduced legislation that would allow sports betting, but Ducey didn’t support the bill since he wanted any gaming expansion to come with a renegotiation of the tribal compacts.
Ducey has consistently been in favor of expanding gambling to increase tax revenue. In 2018, he wanted to use keno as an avenue to help fund teachers’ salaries.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has also pushed pro-gambling rhetoric for most of his political career and is pushing lawmakers in the Bluegrass State to legalize sports betting this year. According to a report from Lineups, Beshear appeared on a local television network advocating for the gambling expansion.
“I believe the time was right years and years ago when virtually every state around us, all Republican states, already have it,” the Democrat said about sports betting. “The fact we haven’t done it at this point is not only silly but puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”
Most of Beshear’s rhetoric surrounding gambling, since he began campaigning for his current position as governor, came with a very positive tone. During his 2019 campaign, he promised to bring casinos to the state. In February 2020, he called on lawmakers to pass an internet gambling bill.
However, after Kentucky won a $1.3 billion lawsuit against online gambling giant PokerStars for serving residents after the passage of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, Beshear said that the money “will never be enough to make up for the damage to Kentucky families.”
Rep. Adam Koenig submitted a sports betting bill during last year’s legislative session, but it died in the committee.