Important AZ Notes
- AZ citizens can legally play at offshore poker websites
- There is no activity in the state legislature for iGaming
- Commercial casinos and racetrack betting are illegal
- There are lots of live poker rooms in the state
- Tribal casinos, lottery, pari-mutuel, charitable gambing legal
- 0 never
Arizona has not passed legislation either specifically allowing or banning online poker. However, the activity would be deemed legal under federal law to play at sites offshore but one cannot play at poker sites located in Arizona because the state has not passed such laws as of yet.
Future Outlook of Online Poker in Arizona – Estimated date of legalization: 2020-2021
The following graph tracks our expected legislation of online poker in Arizona on a state law level. It is currently already legal on a Federal level. This graph monitors the current rise or fall of expected legalization.
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There has been no activity in the Arizona legislature for legalizing online poker. Two of the staunchest opponents of online gambling at the federal level are from Arizona. Former Senator Jon Kyl was a key player in the enactment of the UIGEA in 2006 and was vocally against online gambling since then. However, in 2012 he worked on legalizing only online poker at the federal level along with Senator Harry Reid. But, as stated in article in NextGov.com [A], in September 2012 he insisted that instead of the US Senate first taking up the bill, it should be taken up in the House of Representatives. Therefore, the initiative was dropped.
The other gentleman is Senator John McCain. In 1998 he had tried to enact the Internet Gambling Amendment, which sought to criminalize gambling on the Internet. Fortunately, for the online poker fraternity this initiative failed, but McCain has remained vocally against online gambling. An article in DailyCaller.com [B] alleged that McCain receives political contributions from Indian casinos and is therefore against online gambling. However, McCain was caught on camera playing online poker on his cell phone on the Senate floor. Though he claimed that he was not engaged in real money poker, online poker proponents were irate at this display of double standards. Given this background it is unlikely to expect legit online poker sites to be legalized in the foreseeable future.
Current Gambling Laws in Arizona
In the Arizona Revised Statutes [C] the gambling laws are covered under Title 13, Chapter 33 and gambling on Indian Reservation is covered under Title 5, Chapter 6. Section 13-3301 [D] defines various types of gambling. The salient features are as follows:
Amusement gambling is a gambling for entertainment without any prize money. Severely limited prizes may be offered for games of skill under amusement gambling. Gambling conducted as a business is, “gambling that is engaged in with the object of gain, benefit or advantage, either direct or indirect, realized or unrealized, but not when incidental to a bona fide social relationship”. Gambling means, “risking or giving something of value for the opportunity to obtain a benefit from a game or contest of chance or skill or a future contingent event”, but specifically excluded transactions like securities or commodities trading and various types of insurance. Regulated gambling is gambling “operated and controlled in accordance with a statute, rule or order of this state [Arizona] or of the United States” and includes Indian gambling.
Social gambling means gambling, “that is not conducted as a business and that involves players who compete on equal terms with each other” subject to certain terms and conditions. 21 is the legal age for permitted forms of gambling. Section 13-3302 states that amusement gambling, social gambling and regulated gambling are not unlawful. It also states that charitable gambling is legal if conducted under the terms and conditions defined in this section.
Section 13-3303 [E] defines promotion of gambling as conducting, organizing, managing, directing, supervising or financing gambling or providing advice or assistance for these activities. Promotion of unlawful forms of gambling is a class 5 felony. Section 13-3304 [F] states benefiting from unlawful forms of gambling is a class 1 misdemeanor.
History of Gambling in Arizona
Land Based Poker in Arizona
Poker at home falls under the ambit of social gambling, which is legal as per Arizona revised statutes. There are certain conditions that need to be met. No player may stand to benefit, directly or indirectly, other than from normal poker winnings. There should be no benefits due to proprietorship of the place in which the poker game is held, which means that a rake cannot be taken. Players must compete on equal terms with each other. The legal age for gambling of 21 applies to home poker as well.
Poker tournaments, or any other form of poker, cannot be conducted by bona fide charitable organizations in Arizona. Such organizations can conduct only raffles and bingo games.
Live poker in Arizona can only be played at specified Indian casinos. It must be kept in mind that all the Indian casinos do not have permission to conduct live poker games.
Gambling Laws in Arizona
Arizona allows pari mutuel wagering on horse racing and greyhound racing, charitable raffle and bingo games and has a state lottery. Casino gambling that includes slot machines and table games, including live poker, is available only at the Indian casinos.
Private or state owned casinos are not permitted under Arizona law. Only Indian tribal casinos are allowed. Gaming on Indian reservation is covered by Title 5, Chapter 6 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
The United States Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988. In order to foster the growth of Indian gaming in the State, the Arizona Legislature passed Laws in 1995 which expanded the Arizona State Gaming Agency to become the Arizona Department of Gaming. The Department along with Arizona’s Indian Tribes has oversight of the Indian casinos. The first compacts were established in 1993. In 2001, terms of the current Compacts with 21 Arizona Tribes were successfully negotiated for State regulation of approved Class III gaming activities on Tribal lands. These were approved by the Arizona voters in the November 2002 election as Proposition 202 and have been included in the Arizona Revised Statutes under Section 5-601.02 [G].
23 Class III casinos are operated by 16 Arizona Tribes. Another 5 Tribes do not have casinos but have slot machine rights that they may lease to Tribes with casinos.
Horse racing began in Arizona in the early 1900s. During the Prohibition in the 1930s it was one of the only three states that allowed legal betting on horse racing. Arizona has commercial race tracks for thoroughbred horse racing in Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Rillito Park in Tucson, and in Yavapai Downs (still closed) in Prescott Valley. Live horse racing is also offered at several different county fairs throughout the state. Wagers can also be placed at one of the many off-track betting locations throughout the state. Arizona also permits pari-mutuel wagering on greyhound racing with tracks at Apache Junction, Phoenix, and Tuscon.
Pari-mutuel wagering is covered in the Arizona Revised Statutes under Title 5 (Amusement and Sports) Chapter 1 (Horse and Dog Racing) [H]. The Racing Commission under the Department of Racing [I] has oversight of the horse and greyhound racing in Arizona. It also supervises boxing and mixed martial arts events.
In 1980, Arizona became the first state west of the Mississippi to constitute a state lottery. In 2010, legislation has been passed to continue with the state lottery up to 2035. The laws governing the state lottery are covered in Title 5 Chapter 5.1 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. The Arizona Lottery Commission [J] has oversight over the functioning of the lottery. Apart from local draws, the Arizona lottery participates in the national Powerball and Mega Millions.
Certain organizations are allowed to conduct specified gambling activities for charitable purposes. These are defined in Section 13-3302 [K] of the Arizona Revised Statutes and include gambling that is conducted at state, county or district fairs. In brief, organizations that have qualified for an exemption from taxation of income may conduct raffle games subject to the stipulated restrictions. Certain hospitals can even outsource the conduct of the raffle games to outside agents. A nonprofit organization that is a booster club, a civic club or a political club or political organization may conduct raffle games. Charitable organizations can conduct bingo games licensed by the department of revenue under Chapter 4 of Title 5.
Author: Joseph Falchetti (twitter)
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