Add 2 more states to the potential sports betting list. While no bills have yet to materialize, it appears that talks regarding legalized sports gambling have begun in both Arizona and Minnesota. It will be difficult for both states to pass any laws with the time remaining in the legislative session, but it hasn’t exactly been easy for any state to pass a bill as of yet.
Arizona has a huge market for sports betting. With 4 major franchises in the state, the demand for betting is present and they have an existing clientele. They are also no stranger to legal gambling with over 20 tribal casinos, horse racing tracks and a lottery. The fact that the state borders Nevada lends a hand to their gambling prospects as well. Nevada is the heart of legal sports betting in the US and is a model for states to look after in creating their own markets.
Senator Sonny Borelli is a supporter of legal betting and is helping fund other states’ initiatives in hopes they will return the favor. Borelli’s plan is to use the revenue accrued from legal betting to increase teacher salaries in the state. AZ teachers are demanding a 20% increase (and rightly so). Legal sports gambling could help provide some of the capital to make that a reality.
Some are opposed to the idea of betting in Arizona, including Senator Dave Farnsworth. Farnsworth is playing the moral high ground card and believes more gambling is the last thing the state needs. However, he accepts the fact that any legislation put forth will likely pass in light of the changing climate surrounding sports gambling. The real problem with Arizona are the existing tribes. Since they have such a strong foothold in the local gambling economy, it will be difficult to introduce legal sports betting unless they sign off on it.
Minnesota is in the same boat. They are another state with primarily tribal gambling establishments. They also possess horse tracks with pari-mutuel betting options. Minnesota has an advantage in that they are contractually bound to the tribes in the way Arizona is. Minnesota can introduce its own gambling sources without their approval.
There is already a bill in the works behind the scenes. Representative Pat Garofalo is in charge of the legal betting crusade and believes there is a strong demand for sports gambling in his state. Consumers have expectations for betting in a safe and regulated market, so Garofalo knows the state must come up with a viable framework if PASPA is repealed. One troubling sign for Minnesota is that Garofalo may be in talks with the MLB and NBA. This means integrity fees, data rights and more.
It is unclear whether Arizona will include the major sports leagues, but their lobbying efforts are strong and hard to ignore. It is doubtful either state will pass a bill soon, seeing as the legislative session is at an end. The fact that these 2 states are talking about legal betting is huge given how big their markets are. These 2 could help catapult sports gambling into the limelight.