The first quarter of 2023 has come to an end, and it appears as though Arizona tribal gaming is on the rise. Reports from the Arizona Department of Gaming show tribal operations have reached an all-time high for the quarter.
A Closer Look at the Results
Tribes in the state of Arizona have a gaming compact that requires operators to provide a percentage of earnings from Class III gaming. Gross gaming revenues must be paid to the state and county, city, and towns within their operating area. The contributions are placed in the Arizona Benefits Fund, and the money is split in various ways.
Within the third quarter of the 2023 Fiscal Year (the first three months of 2023), Arizona tribal gaming operators placed just over $27.6 million into the Arizona Benefits Fund. This is a huge jump year-over-year. A 19.9% increase was seen from the same quarter during the 2022 Fiscal Year. Contributions have been close to $2 billion since the industry first started.
Contributions to the fund are divided for charitable needs. This includes wildlife conservation and emergency services. Almost half of the contributions already submitted have gone to the Arizona school symbols to the Instructional Improvement Fund.
Benefits to the State via Arizona Tribal Gaming
The tribal operations in Arizona have been around for decades and continue to provide much-needed support to programs via revenues. It was feared that sports betting would harm the casino industry if legalized in the state. Players would bet on their smartphones instead of going to the casino. Sportsbooks are gaining in popularity online, but customers are still going to the casino properties to enjoy entertainment, dining, and more.
Jackie Johnson, the ADG director, stated that tribal gaming continues to do well in the state, and the 20% in contributions during the quarter is impressive. Johnson looks forward to what the operations can bring in the fourth quarter. The director believes the state will surpass the $2 billion mark with tribal contributions after the quarter comes to an end.
ADE Community Relations Manager Rick Medina stated that the Arizona Department of Education receives the funds from the Instructional Improvement Fund and uses them as necessary. Half of the fund goes to class size reduction and teacher salaries.
The ADE expects that $54 million will go toward the fund in the fiscal year 2023. The remaining funds from the industry go toward programs including educational needs such as helping lower the school dropout rates and literacy improvement.
Growth in the Arizona Gambling Industry
In the past, gambling operations in Arizona were limited to tribes. A total of 22 tribes offered services in the state. Once sports betting was legalized, the industry opened to teams and commercial casino operators. Both were given the right to operate sportsbooks and receive mobile bets.
One would think the tribes would be against such changes to the industry because it would create competition, especially from big names like FanDuel and DraftKings. However, many tribes in the state were happy with the decision as it meant they could also offer such services. It also gave tribes the opportunity to increase their casino game offering.
Most of the Arizona tribal gaming operators have seen increased traffic to the casinos since sports betting was legalized. While this is the case, concern has come forth regarding revenues falling short of predictions.
According to officials, growth has been seen in the gambling industry significantly. The amended compacts have helped the state. The industry appears to be on a trajectory to see a continual jump in earnings.
Officials stress the importance of legalized gambling to ensure funds are spent with the tribes and other licensed operators. This ensures that money is circulated back into the community and helps everyone in the state.
Legal gambling also helps to protect players by offering a regulated environment. Anyone not utilizing regulated services may be at risk of payment issues or breach of personal information.