New bill would make online fantasy sports betting legal in Arizona

A new bill that is being proposed in the Senate would legalize online fantasy sports betting in Arizona.

Senate bill 1515 would exclude participation in websites like Fan Duel and Draft Kings from the state’s definition of gambling in Arizona, which would effectively make it legal. Daily fantasy sports have become increasingly more popular over the past couple of years, with certain websites advertising heavily.

“The growth of fantasy sports kind of came late,” Stacie Stern, General Manager of Head to Head Sports, said. “You know it’s really been in the last 15 years that fantasy sports have seemed to explode on the scene, really with the Internet.”

However, some are concerned that the bill would affect the gaming compact that Arizona has with Native American communities. Senator Martin Quezada (D-29) voted against the bill for this reason.

“I voted against it because we got advice from several attorneys that the bill would trigger what’s known as the poison pill in our gaming compact that we have with our tribes,” Quezada said.

The compact holds that the tribes are able to conduct various gaming activities on their respective tribal lands and that those activities can’t occur outside of them. In return, the tribes give a certain amount of the revenue earned from those games back to the state. If the tribes feel that the compact is not being honored, they can invoke the “poison pill,” which would end the compact.

However, people like Stacie Stern argue that the time has come for Arizona to join the trend of daily fantasy.

“The gaming compact for example, we don’t want to disrupt that, we completely respect that,” Stern said. “But we also feel that there are about 800,000 Arizonans who are disenfranchised, from playing these games, from making that decision on their own, that they want to play these games.”

Even with his vote against the Bill, Sen. Quezada understands that the interest in daily fantasy sports is high in Arizona.

“There are a lot of people who are interested in it, a lot of people who want to play it,” Quezada said. “But it’s got to be something that is worked out over a period of time, that people on both sides of the aisle, from the tribal communities and from the proponents of fantasy football can make it work within that compact.”

Senate Bill 1515 was passed in the judiciary committee last month. The bill now looks to advance further in the Senate.