- SB 1163 was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 6-3
- The original text of the sports betting bill was revamped, giving exclusivity to Indian tribes in the state
- The bill will legalize kiosks owned by tribes, placing the machines in bars and private venues
The Senate Appropriations Committee of Arizona has passed SB 1163. The sports betting bill will now move on to the full state senate. Changes were made to the bill by Senator Sonny Borrelli to help the bill move forward. The measure now gives exclusivity of sports betting to the Indian tribes of the state.
A strike-everything amendment, or striker, was enacted to the bill. This change allowed Borrelli to remove the original language of the measure. New language was then added that legalizes sports betting. However, only federally recognized Indian tribes of the state will be able to offer services.
A tribal-commercial agreement will be set with the bill. The result of this relationship will be sports betting kiosks owned by the tribes will be set up in commercial venues. Bars will be able to house the machines. VFW, Elks, and other private venues can also be home to the machines.
During the meeting, Borrelli stated that he was tired of seeing money from the state going to Nevada or offshore. He believes the new bill will allow citizens in the state to take part in games they enjoy.
According to VSO News, the Arizona sports betting bill was first introduced in January. The bill was known as SB 1158 at the time. However, as it was, the bill was unable to move out of committee. When this happened, Borrelli decided to enact the striker, which allowed SB 1163 to be created. The committee then began to discuss the matter again.
During the most recent meeting, when the bill passed, several individuals were in attendance representing tribes of the state. Of that group, only the Navajo Nation was in favor. The remaining tribes are opposed to the bill.
Council Delegate of the Navajo Nation, Otto Tso said: “The Navajo Nation economy is facing a crisis. Thousands of Navajo jobs are threatened as the local mines and power plants close. Indirectly it affects about 1,600 jobs of the Navajo due to these closures and this bill is basically about revenue, jobs, and how nations can sustain themselves.”
The Navajo Nation has been struggling. Close to half of the residents of the tribe are unemployed. More than one-third of the tribe live without running water and electricity. Sports betting is seen as a way to develop and diversify the economy of the Navajo Nation.
The opposition to the measure by the tribes mainly centered around how they would be able to negotiate changes to their gaming compact. Such negotiations would take place before any movement would be made with the sports betting bill. The tribes felt that the bill was put forward without their input.
Borelli said that the new bill was not a mandate, but a way to legalize sports betting in Arizona. Then, the tribes would be able to negotiate on the specifics for the option to become operational.
The bill now moves forward to the full state senate for consideration.