Arizona’s Governor Seeks Mobile Sports Betting Opportunities

Gov. Doug Ducey is negotiating a new compact with tribal operators in the state as he appeals to legislators to allow the expansion to mobile sports betting.

Mobile Sports Betting to Boost Tax Revenue Says Gov. Ducey

Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, is looking into ways to legalize regular and fantasy sports betting in the state, and expand the industry to various gambling products. To introduce a more liberal sports betting industry, Ducey would need backing from legislators.

He is looking to debut a mobile sports betting framework that would need to be signed off by both the House and Senate and pass during the 2021 legislative session, or so he hopes. This is one of the few legalizations pitches coming directly from the governor’s office, too.

Usually, most states in the country have had a representative or senator submit a bill and, often – competing bills. The senator is already taking action after he negotiated new compact conditions earlier this month with the state’s tribes, allowing them to now run various casino games, albeit certain restrictions still apply. The new compacts have not been made official just yet, we understand.

According to Ducey, this is the right step forward and a way to “bring Arizona into the 21st century,” he said. The next step to catch the state up is to legalize mobile wagering, which will take a joint legislative effort, and despite the governor’s approval, this is still up to legislators to decide.

He has also noted that the 20-year compacts that were approved in 2002 will expire soon, making this the perfect moment for the state to reconsider the way it approaches sports betting and gambling in general, and especially at a time when the entire country is pushing for the legalization of gambling.

Another thing to note is that even though New Jersey and Pennsylvania are making headlines for their growing sports betting handle, what media is failing to realize is that the online casino industry generates much bigger tax revenue for both states.

The Tribes Ready to Embrace Innovation

Unlike states such as Florida and California where tribes have been keen to throw a spanner in the works of any legalization attempt that doesn’t grant them exclusivity, in Arizona, tribal operators seem more than happy to rally behind the governor.

The key? Ducey is promising not so much more competition as he is new revenues to explore, which naturally appeals to existing stakeholders. The governor has been committed to bringing more revenue to his state, something every good governor should, and the repeal of PASPA in 2018 is what he describes as a significant opportunity.

Yet, there has been some tugs-of-war with tribes. For example, Ducey wanted to convince residents to play keno so that he can fund his teacher pay package in 2018. The move, while controversial, was welcome and tribal operators introduced keno.

However, an attempt to introduce keno games run and operated by the state lottery was met with opposition by the tribes – a common gripe when you try to introduce more competition in states where tribal operators have enjoyed an unchallenged hegemony.

Some significant attempts to introduce changes were made in 2020, but they were ultimately shelved for 2021.

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