The next director of the Arizona Department of Gaming comes to Phoenix with more than a decade of tribal law experience under her belt.
Gov. Katie Hobbs tabbed Jaclyn Johnson of law firm Rothstein Donatelli to run the department, including managing Arizona sports betting. Johnson takes over for Doug Ducey appointee Ted Vogt, who has served as director for four years.
Johnson will assume her new role on Feb. 21, joining a host of other department heads who were appointed by Hobbs. the first-term Democratic governor.
The Montana native is a first descendant of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, growing up on the Flathead Reservation. She has spent more than a decade working with tribes on gaming-related causes, including the drafting and negotiating of various gaming compacts and amendments.
Johnson has worked as an attorney for two Southwest law firms, in Rostein Donatelli and Quarles & Brady, and was admitted to the Arizona and Navajo bars in 2009 after graduating from the University of Michigan Law School.
Vogt is a former Arizona State Representative who had previously served as the Executive Director of the Arizona Corporation Commission and the Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services before taking over the ADG.
The newest ADG director told BetArizona.com she’s looking forward to moving the department forward, using sports betting and casino play as drivers of revenue for the state.
“I look forward to learning about the ins-and-outs of the Department, building upon the Department’s strengths and determining where improvements can be made,” Johnson said in an email. “A large portion of the Department's work is in the field of tribal gaming regulation. My prior gaming and regulatory work with tribes will enhance the State-tribal gaming partnership and lead to more effective regulation in the state.”
Building a More Equitable Sports Betting Market
Hobbs’ office did not return requests for comment, though a tweet sent out from her official Twitter account Monday addressed the appointment of Johnson and other director-level members.
“I have full confidence that the expertise represented in this group of leaders will bring us closer to an Arizona that works for everyone,” Hobbs said in the social media statement. “These directors will rise to both the challenges and opportunities in their departments and in our state.”
Arizona launched sports betting in September 2021. The state handed out 20 online betting licenses, but only 10 went to Arizona tribes. There are 22 Native American tribes in the state, and 15 of those operate casinos.
The other 10 online licenses were designated for professional sports organizations — like BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona and its partnership with the Arizona Cardinals. But only eight of those licenses have been awarded.
And at least one tribal license — that of the Ak-Chin Indian Community — is in limbo. Its partner, Fubo Sportsbook, folded less than a year after launch.
Johnson said she’s excited to build upon the progress the state has made in implementing Arizona sports betting apps and bolstering its longstanding casino gaming options, taking the department to a new level in the year ahead.
The incoming ADG director expressed confidence that Arizona, which currently has the sixth-highest sports betting handle in the nation ($4.85 billion through October) can continue to prosper, as can the state’s casino, boxing and mixed martial arts activities.
“I look forward to developing strong relationships with the state's event wagering and fantasy sports, racing, and boxing & MMA stakeholders to further our vision of ‘world-class gaming regulation for a stronger Arizona and advance gaming in the state in a safe and responsible manner,” Johnson said in her statement.