Arizona Gambling Bill Moves Through State House
A gambling bill in Arizona has been approved by the House, amid major questions of fairness and transparency within the industry.
This week, the state House in Arizona discussed and voted on HB2772, a measure that would expand gambling in the state. During a meeting involving the legislation, several democrats raised questions as to the fairness and transparency of the expansion plans. Republican Governor Doug Ducey has been working on a deal with the Native American tribes in the state to update their gambling compact and all the discussions have been hush-hush. Ducey needs the expansion to go through in order for a deal to be struck.
Approval of the Measure
The questions arose before the vote took place regarding the measure. The House approved the bill 48-12. It will allow professional and college sports betting at sites that are owned by professional sports teams as well as tribal casinos. Horse race tracks and fraternal organizations will be allowed to offer new keno games along with fantasy sports.
There were three democrats and nine republicans who did not approve the measure. However, it did receive enough votes to move forward after a signature by the governor. The Senate has a similar measure, SB1797, which has been held up, but will move forward soon. Similar questions were asked in the Senate hearing regarding the bill there as well.
The legislation passage is tied to the gaming compact that the governor is working on with the tribes. The information surrounding the deal has not been revealed to the public. Representative Randall Friese commented on the process, saying he is very opposed to linking the bill to the compact. He says the body has no role within the renegotiation of the compact and the administration has now given the body a role in the process and he objects to that.
According to the representative, the governor should have had the tribal gaming compacts signed and delivered and then asked lawmakers to approve gambling options outside of the casinos. The secrecy of the compacts is concerning to many lawmakers involved in the process.
Representative Reginald Bolding is a supporter of the measure and he voted to approve it. However, he is worried that 10 sportsbook licenses set aside for pro sports organizations will cut out any opportunity for another group to bid on licensing.
Supporting Sports Teams
Representative Jeff Weninger is the bill sponsor in the House and he said that major sports teams will be able to contribute to the community. They also have the financial stability to operate sportsbooks. According to the Rep, the state wants people who are financially able to provide services and maintain them.
Many lawmakers have an issue with the fees and how much will go to the state. Weninger basically walked around the issue and said that he is assuming and hoping that the Department of Gaming will set fees that are fair.
Governor Ducey sees the bills and the new compact as a way to bring in more revenues to the tribal nations and the state budget. He made this connection last month during the State of the State address. He has been working with the tribes for many years to cut a new deal and hopes that this option will increase state revenues by allowing gambling options outside the casinos operated by the tribes.
The major change would be the sports teams offering services. The Cardinals, Diamondbacks and Phoenix Coyotes would be able to offer a retail sportsbook within their venues as well as online. Even NASCAR and professional golf organizations would be eligible for licensing.
For now, it will be interesting to see if Ducey will reveal any more information on the compacts and if it will be what lawmakers expect or something completely different.