A new gamble for Arizona sports fans

Illustrated by 

Legalized online and in-person sports betting advances in Arizona as the House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill and now has moved to the Senate this month for approval. 

If approved by the Senate, House Bill 2772 would authorize sports books in or near stadiums, authorize mobile and online fantasy league betting, allow kiosk machines in certain local places to place sports bets and permit Native American tribes to allow betting off reservations, according to the legislation.

The House approved the bill by a vote of 48-12 earlier this month.

This proposition comes almost two decades after the current Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compact was passed by voters in the 2002 November midterm election, according to the Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compact. This agreement between tribes and the state allowed the amount of revenue the tribe casinos produced to be distributed among Arizona counties and different state programs. 

Whether the bill passes, sports betting has proven to generate much revenue for the state, shows ADG. Within the last fiscal year, the tribal gambling brought in roughly $2 billion worth of revenue, while also distributing about $103 million to the state and $13 million to cities, according to a report from ADG.

The proposal, first introduced by Rep. Jeff Weninger, states it would allow Arizona professional sports teams to incorporate betting into their own facilities. 

In a statement by Gov. Doug Ducey last month, he suggested support of the new proposition. 

“An opportunity for a modernized gaming compact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget,” Ducey said.

According to a report published by The Brookings Institution, Flagstaff landed a No. 10 spot at being the city with the highest economic growth impact in response to COVID-19 in the nation. Many have encouraged that legalizing sports betting can increase revenue within the state, being an efficient solution to COVID-19 setbacks. 

NAU alumna Bailey Hickethier said she has been around sports her entire life and seeing how influential it is to people, it may just be the perfect economic engagement. 

“My dad and brother always have been placing bets on sports,” Hickethier said. “Seeing how upset they were that many sports got canceled when the pandemic hit, they seem to be twice as obsessed with sports.” 

Being from Montana, where sports gaming is already legal, Hickethier said she thinks there is no reason why it should be illegal. 

“People can gamble on things that mean absolutely nothing,” Hickethier said. “I mean if people want to blow their money on it, they have every right. Besides, if it contributes to the economy, then what is stopping them from passing the law.” 

Reported by the American Gaming Association (AGA),state-regulated sports betting has been made illegal for a variety of reasons, the main reason being illegal bookies. These bookies, or sportsbooks, are illegal by offering betting outside permit jurisdictions with the intent to target consumers, AGA stated.

However, after the trial of Murphy v. NCAA, states began to overturn federal regulations and start administering state-regulated betting. In 2018, the NCAA was challenged by New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy to overturn their federal laws and let the states decide on the enforcement of these laws. 

Per reports from ESPN, there are currently 20 states with legalized sports betting.  

NAU golf head coach Bradley Bedortha said he will make sure that if laws change and sports betting becomes legal, his players will play the same. 

“Well, since our players must abide by the NCAA rules, and they wouldn’t be allowed to game on sports, we already do educate them and we would just need to continue with that education,” Bedortha said. 

While Bedortha is not as worried for people to bet on golf as some would for other sports, he still said he considers it a plausible solution. 

“I don’t have an issue with sports betting at all,” Bedortha said. “It’s become legal in most places and if people want to send their money gambling, that should be their right.” 

Currently, many local and state authorities suspect this proposal of legalized sports betting to be beneficial toward the financial status of the state and the COVID-19 setbacks cities have faced over the past year.