Arizona Senator Sonny Borelli is hoping that a second bill, aimed at bringing legal sports betting to the state, will be met more favorably than his original SB 1158 effort which stalled recently at the Commerce Committee phase due to intervention from tribal interests. The new bill, SB 1163, is due to debated during a state hearing this Tuesday.
If accepted, Borelli’s revised plan would give the state’s Indian Nations full exclusivity to offer sports wagering, but would also encourage them to look beyond the limits of their reservation boundaries and co-operate with operators of private, commercial outlets.
Effectively, tribes would have entitlement to become kiosk operators, with the ability to site sports betting terminals in bars and clubs where they could either pay a rental for the footprint or participate in a revenue/profit share arrangement with the venue owner.
Borelli, quoted on SportsHandle.com, said: “I want to take advantage of the existing technology with the kiosk. I want to pick up that kiosk, take it out of the casino and put it in a liquor-licensed bar, a beer-and-wine bar or private clubs, like the Elks or VFW.”
Accessibility to a convenient form of sports betting will be key to making the pastime work in Arizona given that the senator’s bill does not include dispensation for mobile wagering and travelling to one of the 24 tribal casinos can often involve a long journey.
On tribal exclusivity, Borelli’s bill states: “Each federally recognized Indian tribe that has entered into a tribal-state gaming compact pursuant to chapter 6 of this title may operate sports betting as defined in subsection B of this section. No other person or entity may operate sports betting, provided, that a wholly owned entity of an Indian tribe shall be considered the same as an Indian tribe and enjoy the same rights under this chapter.
“An Indian tribe that is authorized to operate sports betting pursuant to this section may operate sports betting through kiosks or similar machines that are located at one or more premises that have a bar license, beer and wine bar license or a private club license that is issued pursuant to title 4. This subsection does not allow an Indian tribe to operate more gaming devices than otherwise allocated under either section 25 5-601.2 or any successor tribal-state gaming compact, whichever is then currently applicable to the tribe.”
SBCA Takeaway: Borelli’s new bill presents an interesting solution to the long-standing issue of tribal compacts or, more specifically, protection of those compacts. But, as always, the devil is in the detail. Picture the scene where the Arizona bill is passed and Indian nations are negotiating commercial deals with private bar and club operators off-reservation. We all know that when it comes to sports betting, the margins are incredibly tight to the point where there’s not a great deal of dollar to spread between interested parties. The tribes who own and manage those sports betting kiosks will understandably demand the biggest slice of the pie. But bar and club owners will also want a ‘fair price’ for giving up what they will insist is a valuable piece of carpet space. Getting Borelli’s bill onto the statute books is one thing – hammering out a commercial deal on machine rentals/profit share is a horse of a different color.