Arizona’s Current Laws and Stance on Gambling

Last updated: July 21, 2017 at 10:54pm by SavanahA fairly recent report mentioned tribal casinos in Arizona did $1.82 billion in revenue in 2014, more current numbers haven’t been released yet, which is an increase for four consecutive years. Arizona’s newest tribal casino opened in December 2015, the Desert Diamond West Valley Resort Casino. It features 1,080 slot machines, the maximum amount allowed, and can start offering table games as of this month.

Online Poker in Arizona – Estimated Date of Legalization: 2018-2019

ArizonaMany people believe Arizona’s laws are fairly lenient when it comes to gambling, I believe otherwise, but you can read this article and decide for yourself. First, let’s look at their definition of “gambling”.

In their statute, section 13-3301, the definition of gambling states:

    “One act of risking or giving something of value for the opportunity to obtain a benefit from a game or contest of chance or skill or a future contingent event but does not include bona fide business transactions which are valid under the law of contracts including contracts for the purchase or sale at a future date of securities or commodities, contracts of indemnity or guarantee and life, health or accident insurance.”

Unlike most gambling definitions from other state’s statutes, Arizona’s clearly states, “a game of contest of chance or skill”. The key words are “chance or skill”. Many states only include the word “chance” which leads it open when it comes to poker since most people think of poker as a game of skill and not chance. Having the word “skill” included in their definition doesn’t help those people who play poker since some other states have deemed poker as skill and not chance which has allowed those court cases to be dismissed.

Internet Poker in the Grand Canyon State

For those who remember, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona was the driving force of expediting the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passage through the Senate. The UIGEA was passed to help regulate online gambling, although there are many loopholes in the law.

In recent years, Arizona seems to have softened a bit when it comes to gambling, online and offline, and could be a near future viable state to pass and regulate interstate online poker. There have been no cases to date within the state of someone being arrested and convicted for playing poker over the internet.

AZ State FlagLegal Forms of Gambling in the State of Arizona

The state allows four main types of legal gambling:

  • State Lottery
  • Pari-Mutuel Wagering
  • Indian Casinos
  • Charitable Gaming

State Lottery – The Arizona Lottery was approved by the public in November 1980, becoming the first state west of the Mississippi to legally have a state run lottery which is overseen by the Arizona State Lottery Commission. Initially it was passed by a small margin, but more currently it is much more accepted by the general public. In November 2002, 22 years after its inception, 73 percent of Arizonans voted to extend the state lottery for an additional 10 years.

Two years before it was to be voted on again by the public for another extension, legislation was passed in 2010 to continue the lottery until 2035. Over $3 billion has been generated for the state since 1981. Lottery players must be at least 21 years of age; the minimum age was 18 until June 1, 2003.

Pari-Mutuel Wagering – The Department of Racing regulates the Arizona pari-mutuel horse and greyhound racing industry. They oversee and supervise all commercial horse, greyhound, and county fair races. The Department of Racing also licenses participants, collects state revenues generated by race meetings, and enforces laws and rules related to racing and betting to protect industry participants and the public.

Indian Casinos – Brick and mortar Indian casinos are always a popular place to go and gamble. Currently, the state of Arizona has 23 Class III casinos operated by 16 different tribes. Six additional Indian tribes do not have casinos but have slot machine rights they lease to other Indian casinos. Click here to see Arizona’s Indian Casino compacts and statutes.

Charitable Gaming – Charitable organizations use legal charitable gambling games as a vehicle for fundraising such as Monte Carlo Nights or Texas Holdem Poker Tournaments.

There are strict rules to follow under the charitable gaming laws. In regards to a poker tournament for example, a non-profit organization cannot require a specified donation in order to participate. As in, those who do not choose to donate must have an equal chance to play and win.

Another example is the poker game cannot offer re-buys to increase the chances of a player winning. Also, a donor cannot receive additional chips even if he/she donated more money than the other participants. Basically, the playing field must be level.

Author: Savanah Lavinder
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