Arizona Senator Sonny Borelli’s amended sports betting bill, designed to give Indian nations exclusive rights to offer sports wagering in partnership with bar and club owners via the use of kiosks, has been stonewalled by the state’s Native American tribes. But despite their objections, SB 1163 was voted through 6-3 by Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday.
The only Indian tribe in support of Borelli’s bill was the Navajo Nation which stands in isolation versus the state’s other nations who argue that the legislation will be bad for Arizona and tribal interests. Larry Jackson, Vice Chairman of the Yavapai Apache Nation, told the meeting: “The nation supports legal sports betting in the state of Arizona. But the nation firmly believes that this bill is not the appropriate mechanism for such legislation.”
Steve Hart, the attorney representing the Navajo Nation at the hearing, countered strong tribal opposition arguing that Borelli’s proposals will have no impact on ongoing negotiations regarding tribal compacts. He told the meeting that rather than removing tribal exclusivity on sports betting, the bill will strengthen it
Having won the day for Borelli’s bill, the Republicans are now keen to move towards full legalization of sports betting in Arizona. However, the Indian nations will still contest that the introduction of legal sports wagering should have been processed via the existing tribal compacts, not through state legislature.