The bipartisan Senate bill that would have legalized fantasy sports in Arizona failed before reaching the floor.
Although Senate Bill 1468 originally started with a considerate amount of bipartisan support, Republican senator and primary sponsor Adam Driggs believes the bill failed because of a possible conflict with the Arizona's Indian Gaming Preservation and Self-Reliance Act.
-Arizona Bill Would Legalize Fantasy Sports
"The bill itself would have passed overwhelmingly in the senate, but for the question of whether it violates the gaming compact with the tribes," Driggs says. "No one was really interested in blowing up the gaming compact."
The gaming compact, passed in 2002, outlines gaming permitted for Arizona tribal casinos. Although fantasy sports are not explicitly defined in the compact, there is debate over whether or not it's considered to be parimutuel wagering (meaning the winnings are taken from the amount of money wagered), which under the compact, is illegal for everyone except the tribes, and the few remaining horse- and dog-racing tracks. While this statute can eventually be changed, it cannot be amended until its next renewal date, which comes once every 10 years.
SB 1468 intended to separate fantasy sports from gambling, and to define it in the state law. It passed in committee but never reached the senate floor, after the Arizona Indian Gaming Association came out against the bill (AIGA did not respond to requests for comment).
"I don't think [fantasy sports] are a concern of the tribes," Driggs says. "It's certainly not competing with the tribe. I would like to find a solution to the problem because I don't think this was the intent of the gaming compact."
Although the bill was killed this legislative session, proponents of legalizing fantasy sports will continue to push for its eventual passage.
"I think the support in the legislature is there for the bill," says Stacie Stern, general manager of Scottsdale fantasy sports provider Head2Head Sports. "I think what we need to do is educate the opposition on why fantasy sports is not gambling or gaming, and hopefully we can get Arizona to join along with 45 other states to enjoy fantasy sports."
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