Betting Laws

Tribal Sports Betting Licenses Could Increase After New Bill

On Monday, Arizona Senator Sally Ann Gonzales introduced SB 1674, legislation that would increase the number of sports betting licenses in the state. Currently, only ten tribal licenses are available. If this measure passes, the number will increase to 22, giving every tribe in the state a chance to get in on the action.

The measure was sent to the Commerce and Rules committees. Gonzales plans to speak with tribes and other lawmakers starting next week in the hopes of gaining support for the measure. The end goal is to provide an opportunity for every tribe in the state to offer sports betting services. Last year, the senator tried to see this change occur but failed via an amendment effort.

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Left Out in the Cold

If the legislation can pass into law, it would allow tribes that were left out of sports betting licenses a chance to become involved. After the initial launch, six tribal applicants were unable to receive licensing. This includes the Colorado River Indian Tribes, White Mountain Apache Tribe, and the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

Each of these tribes has partnered with a sports betting brand in anticipation of licensing. The Yavapai-Apache teamed up with PointsBet, White Mountain Apache has MaximBet as its partner, and Colorado River signed a deal with BlueBet.

The Yavapai-Apache Indian Tribe actually decided to take legal action due to not receiving licensing. The suit was filed against the Arizona Department of Gaming and the state. Both sides are currently working on a settlement. This tribe was not involved in compact negotiations as other tribes were that helped push the state to legalize mobile sports betting.

Commercial Operators in the Mix

While only a portion of tribes were able to receive licensing, the market is still open to commercial operators. Sports betting legislation in Arizona allowed six professional sports teams in the state as well as specific events to receive licensing.

The Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, Phoenix Raceway, Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Rattlers, and TPC Scottsdale were all awarded licensing by the Arizona Department of Gaming.

For Senator Gonzales, she felt that it was unfair that the remaining tribes were left out of taking part in the industry, especially considering that commercial operators were given licensing too. In speaking with Legal Sports Report, the senator stated that she is trying again because the tribes in Arizona had to compete for the ten licenses. At the same time, major leaguers were provided with options automatically.

The senator feels that the process was one-sided. Her tribe did not receive licensing, and without her legislation, they might not ever have a chance to be approved for sports betting.

Part of the new bill would allow operators to open a sportsbook within its casino plus a second option within five blocks. This element may see commercial operators push back again the plan as it might interfere with their own operations. It will be interesting to see if the legislation receives enough support from other lawmakers to move forward.

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