Two pieces of legislation that would alter the rules governing Arizona sports betting are making their way through the state Legislature.
House Bill 2509, which would form the Arizona Gaming Commission to replace the Arizona Racing Commission, the Arizona State Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission and the Arizona Department of Gaming, advanced through the Arizona House Rules Committee by an 8-0 vote Monday.
On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed SB 1459, which would reduce the percentage of fund monies from 10% to 8% the Arizona Department of Gaming could spend on enforcing fantasy sports and sports betting statutes. An amendment to that bill would also cap the current fantasy sports contest tax rate at 10%.
Andrew Diss, Meruelo Gaming’s Chief Strategy Officer, spoke in favor of the amendment during Tuesday’s meeting. Meruelo Gaming is owned by Alex Meruelo, the managing partner of the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes/Meruelo Gaming mobile sports betting platform, SaharaBets, launched in Arizona in January.
The Senate version of HB 2509 — SB 1458 — was altered by amendment into a bill focusing on the counting of absentee ballots during elections.
How Consolidation Would Work
If the consolidation bill becomes law, the Gaming Commission would assume authority over Arizona betting apps on July 1, 2023.
The new Gaming Commission would have one governor-appointed member who is a certified public accountant licensed by Arizona or another state with at least five years of experience in general accounting, one governor-appointed member with at least five years of experience in law enforcement and a Director of the Gaming Commission with at least five years of public or business administration experience.
There would be three other members of the commission, one each to be appointed by the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Arizona’s Current Oversight Structure
Arizona currently has three different agencies to oversee gaming, racing and boxing/MMA.
The Arizona Department of Gaming, which was established in 1995, has overseen sports betting in the state since its inception last fall. The department also regulates tribal gaming, including the certification of casino employees. The ADG has divisions that work with the Racing Commission and Boxing & MMA Commission.
The state Racing Commission began in 1949. It issues racing dates, along with adopting and enforcing rules to protect horses.
The Boxing & MMA Commission manages licenses for fight officials, including referees, judges, matchmakers, promoters, trainers and ringside physicians. The commission was established in 1982, and MMA was added in 1997.