Moving to Arizona State University
The Arizona Coyotes are moving to a new hockey arena next year and may need legal help to continue offering sports betting. Currently, the Coyotes play at the Gila River Arena in Glendale. The team is moving to Arizona State University’s hockey arena next season. They want to continue to offer online betting services. It is unclear if the state requires legal changes to allow that to happen.
Size Issue for Arizona Coyotes
Arizona law only allows professional sports teams to offer retail betting and online gambling if the facility they play in seats 10,000 people. The arena at Arizona State can only hold 5,000. The Coyotes are using the arena at the university for three years until its new venue is open in Tempe.
The Coyotes do not want to open a retail site at the university but would like to continue offering online gaming. The team is working on a $1.7 billion project in Tempe. The plans include a new hockey arena and restaurants, shops, and apartment buildings. The site of the project is 40 acres.
The team wants to continue to benefit from online sports betting while the new arena is under construction. The only problem is that the Coyotes are unsure what needs to be done to make that happen.
Discussions Falling Flat
Earlier this week, a last-minute measure was approved by the state’s Senate appropriations committee. The amendment was introduced by Representative Leo Biasiucci, and it would allow the Arizona Coyotes to maintain their sports betting services online. During a recent hearing, he reiterated the commitment by the Coyotes to provide $40 million in improvements for the new multipurpose arena of ASU.
While the measure has senate support, it does not have any support from the Arizona Indian Gaming Association. Several Native American tribes show opposition as well. They say that the law approved last year legalizing sports betting was part of a complex agreement with Governor Doug Ducey that updated their tribal gaming compact. The amendment is not conducive to the contract according to the tribes.
What Can the Arizona Coyotes Do?
Coyotes’ Andrew Diss was on hand during the proposal testimony to provide his thoughts. He said that there is a question as to whether or not the state requires a legal change for the Coyotes to continue with online betting.
Diss pointed out that when you ask 10 different attorney’s the question, it results in 10 different answers. The team has received contradicting answers depending on who they ask. The varying answers do not give the team hopes that a solution will arise.
An attorney for the state’s Indian Gaming Association spoke at the hearing on the subject. Bradley Bledsoe Downes stated that the law cannot change just because the Coyotes need a new arena. The attorney pointed out that the updated compact waived the exclusivity of the tribe when it comes to gambling. The waiver is based on limitations of when, where, and how sports teams can offer services.
In speaking with the committee, Downes stated:
“That was a compromise by the tribes and as well as the professional leagues and teams, and to go back and change that understanding, especially less than a year later, for something that is really self-created … shouldn’t land at this body to address.”
The self-created comment refers to the long-running issue between the hockey team and Glendale. The city refused to extend the lease to the team to continue playing within the Gila River Arena.
We shall see if the Arizona Coyotes will be able to find some solution to offer online sports betting with the move. If the team cannot find a solution, it will miss out on a large chunk of revenue for several years until the new venue is open for business.