Arizona’s Current Laws and Stance on Gambling
2021 Update: Is Online Poker Legal in Arizona
There are still no bills to legalize online poker in Arizona. But they did recently hold an online poker tournament. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Neighbors Helping Neighbors held an online charity poker tournament to benefit a local food bank in Arizona.
While this isn’t a legislative effort, it’s still a step in the right direction. Maybe the state will see the benefits that online poker can offer the state. There are also two sports betting bills that are being discussed in the Grand Canyon State: HB 2813 and SB 1525.
SB 1525 is a rehash of last year’s bill. But HB 2813 wouldn’t allow for line sports betting. Both bills face opposition from tribal casinos. Chances are any future online poker bills will face opposition too. Experts aren’t predicting that these bills will pass. Aside from tribal opposition, they also face push back from local legislators.
Chances are things won’t progress until next year. The pandemic also puts a hamper on new legislation.
We’ll keep you updated here. So stay tuned!
Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Arizona
Arizona has regulated gambling for some time. Desert states are known for gambling. Arizona is no different. There are numerous laws governing different types of gambling. For the state, as per statute, section 13-3301, “gambling” means:
“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 bonafide business transactions.”
This definition is a bit different from most states. Arizona’s law states gambling is “a game of contest of chance or skill”. The keywords are “chance or skill”. Most states only include the word “chance” which excludes poker since a federal judge ruled poker was a game of skill. But Arizona’s definition would include poker as gambling.
For those who remember, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona expedited the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). In recent years, Arizona seems to have softened a bit when it comes to gambling. This bodes well for online poker.
Can I Play PokerStars in Arizona
Not yet. While PokerStars was one of the most popular poker sites in the US before Black Friday, it’s only available in a few states now. Arizona is not one of them. That might change in the future, but there are some other options. There are plenty of other sites that accept players from all 50 states across the United States. Sites like America’s Cardroom and Black Chip Poker accept players from around the country and have a bunch of different sign-up bonuses.
We’ve reviewed these sites and plenty others. Check out our top-reviewed sites below if you’re looking for a good PokerStars alternative in Arizona:
Legal Gambling in Arizona
The state allows four main types of legal gambling:
- State Lottery
- Pari-Mutuel Wagering
- Indian Casinos
- Charitable Gaming
The Arizona Lottery was approved by the public in November 1980. It was the first state west of the Mississippi to have a lottery and is overseen by the Arizona State Lottery Commission. In November 2002, 22 years after its inception, 73 percent of Arizonans voted to extend the state lottery for an additional 10 years.
Then, in 2010, the lottery was extended until 2035. The lottery has generated billions for the states and it keeps growing. The lottery generated $981 million in revenue in 2018. The state has a goal to reach $1 billion in revenue by 2020. Lottery players must be at least 21 years of age.
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. It enforces laws and rules related to racing and betting to protect industry participants and the public.
There are a number of racetracks across the state. Click here for a list of race tracks in Arizona.
Brick and mortar Indian casinos are popular around the US. Arizona has a lot of tribes. They also have a lot of casinos. Arizona has 23 casinos operated by 16 different tribes. Six more Indian tribes have slot machine rights. They lease those to other Indian casinos. Click here to see Arizona’s Indian Casino compacts and statutes.
The casinos also have clout in the state. These casinos have been opposed to expanding online gaming though. The current bills are trying to address these issues and find a middle ground. A middle ground would be great for players. It could also help online poker.
Arizona allows for legal gaming if it’s for charity. There have been some poker fundraising like the Monte Carlo Nights or Texas Holdem Poker Tournaments. There are strict rules to follow under the charitable gaming laws. Despite that, there are plenty of charity gaming nights around the state.
For example, a non-profit organization cannot require a specified donation. This means players need an equal chance to win regardless of their donation. In April 2020, the state held an online charity poker tournament to raise money for a food bank – that’s an option.
This sets some precedent for online poker in Arizona. People love to play poker. Arizona is no different. There’s a chance poker could be next. We’re sure you hope that’s true too. If anything changes, we’ll tell you here.
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