Is it legal to place sports bets in Arizona?

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The US has undergone an enormous amount of change in recent years when it comes to sports betting. The federal law which banned it outright was struck down back in 2018, and states can now decide for themselves whether they will allow sports bets to be placed in their jurisdictions or not. 

But what’s the situation in Arizona? What’s the basic legal framework – and what are the exceptions and exemptions? This blog post will delve into the situation and find out.

The background

Before looking at the case of Arizona specifically, it’s important to first examine the way the sports betting scene across the entire US has changed in the last few years. Until the mid-2010s, the prospect of being able to bet on sports in the US looked slim and unlikely to ever really change. However, the striking down of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act back in 2018 by the Supreme Court revealed that there was plenty of pent-up demand for sports betting in the US – and Arizona was no exception. 

The decision of the Supreme Court has had far-reaching consequences. It has led to states being able to make their own decisions about whether or not to legalize sports betting. Some states, such as New Jersey, legalized sports betting as soon as they could. Other states put themselves on a timeline progressing towards legalization and have since given it the green light. Meanwhile, there are some states that have still not progressed to this stage. 

The process in Arizona

Arizona, however, has been one of the more recent states to legalize sports betting, and legal online sports betting in AZ is now available. Arizona legalized sports betting in September 2021, which is relatively late compared to east coast states such as Pennsylvania. However, the performance in its first month alone was quite impressive, with Arizona managing to bring in almost $300m. The following month this number rose astronomically. This just goes to show how much pent-up demand there was in the state after so many decades of betting being banned. 

The political background to the legalization is interesting. It took quite some wrangling to get the law through. The state’s governor had to spend time liaising with other stakeholders before it could be agreed upon. As is not uncommon in cases of sports betting legalization, the main stakeholders that had to be consulted were the Indigenous American tribes located within the state. These tribes often operate casinos, for various complex historical reasons – and state governments often find that they have to work with these providers before they can push through effective online sports betting in their state. The work of Doug Ducey, the governor, has clearly paid off – and there are now more than 10 online sports gambling providers working in the state. 

The wider landscape

To be precise, in fact, there are now 13 internet-based sportsbooks in operation – which is a relatively large number compared to some other US states, many of which have taken only tentative steps towards legalization – if any at all. This means there’s are several choices available to Arizona bettors, and that they don’t have to limit themselves to just one or two providers. This also means they can access a range of odds as well as a selection of different sports, including baseball, basketball and American football. 

In terms of the big names represented, there are several big brands in operation in the state. It’s not out of the question that the Arizona Department of Gaming will be working on applications from other potential providers in the future – so it’s certainly possible new providers will be joining the market. When or if this will happen, however, is not known exactly – but Arizona sports bettors can expect to hear soon.

Ultimately, sports betting is clearly legal in Arizona. Since the state legalized it last year, it’s become clear that players in Phoenix and beyond are loving their new rights – and have spent plenty of cash on betting since then. Whether or not the legal framework will extend in the future, however, is still up for debate. Most other states have found themselves on a progressive journey towards increased legal rights – so it’s likely that Arizona will proceed along the same path.