The launch of Arizona sports betting is inching closer and closer, with an expected launch date of September 9.
With the launch coming just in time to make bets on the upcoming NFL season and with multiple sportsbook app partnerships forming (such as the newest partnership between Bally’s Sportsbook and the Phoenix Mercury), it is an exciting time for Arizona and the sports betting industry.
I was able to talk with the State of Arizona District 5 Representative, Leo Biasiucci, regarding the launch of sports betting and the journey it took to get here.
ArizonaCasinos (AZCasinos): Why did it take so long for sports betting in Arizona to be legalized?
Rep. Leo Biasiucci (LB): To provide a bit of background, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) outlawed sports betting in the state of Arizona. It wasn’t until 2002 that Arizona entered into 20-year gaming compacts with Indian tribes effectively legalizing certain classes of gambling on tribal land. Sports betting was not a part of these Compacts as Arizona was not grandfathered nor exempt from PASPA. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA as unconstitutional and a violation of the Tenth Amendment (i.e., states’ rights). With the 2002 compacts open for renegotiation, Governor Ducey and members of the legislature sought to update and modernize the preexisting compacts through the legalization of sports betting.
AZCasinos: Why did you vote yes to legalize sports betting in Arizona? What are the benefits for the state?
LB: Initially, I had concerns. I would have liked the revenue percentage to have been increased for the state. But that is a conversation to have at another time. Ultimately I voted yes because I felt we were losing a significant chunk of revenue to offshore betting sites and neighboring states like Nevada. It was a no-brainer for me and I am happy to see it pass. Both the state and the tribes are expected to see new jobs, increased tourism, and increased revenue. This bill is a win-win.
AZCasinos: What is the expected revenue sports betting will bring to the state? What will the revenue be used for?
LB: It’s hard to pinpoint at this moment what the exact revenue will be. I’ve heard anything ranging from $100-$250 million. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee issued a fiscal memo that projects taxable wagering revenue at $154 million per year once the market is mature. This memo is said to be on the more conservative side.
Some revenue goes directly to the counties, cities, and towns. Other revenues go to education, emergency services, wildlife conservation, tourism, and problem gambling.
AZCasinos: Why do you think sports betting will be successful in Arizona? What are the long-term goals and visions for Arizona sports betting?
LB: This bill finally removes a long-time restriction that I think will prove to be a great decision. Arizona has an ever-growing sports fan base. We love our teams and this is another opportunity for Arizonans to get even more involved in the games they love! Plus, it allows us to capture the market. Right now, online sites are the only option for residents to bet on sports in Arizona. People also have the option to travel to Nevada. As much as we all love going to Vegas, I think people are going to love the fact that they can now conveniently bet on a team while watching the game at home.