Arizona Gambling Laws

Arizona casino

When it comes to gambling, this state was the first one in the whole Western Mississippi to legalize lottery. Arizona is considered to be quite progressive in this area, compared to other more conservative states.

This state has a long history. Once upon a time, it was actually a part of Mexico, and today, it’s a home of 22 Native American tribes, among others. At first, this state was quite strict regarding gambling. Though horse racing has been present since the 50s, things really started to go in the right direction and move forward in 1988, when the first federal bill was passed giving the tribes permission to open land casinos.

This, however, only created more troubles, since the negotiations with the Native American people had only just begun. There were a lot of inconsistencies in the state documents, and Arizona found itself in the middle of a full-on battle regarding casino gaming.

Fast-forward to today — you can enjoy your favorite casino games in 26 tribal casinos in total, with no smoking ban for a fulfilling gambling experience. If you want to enter, however, you have to be at least 21, while for the lottery, that restriction is 18.

The Longest Road

Long Road in ArizonaWhile horse racing is legal in Arizona and is actually considered to be a tradition in this state since the early 1950s, other forms of gambling had quite a rocky start. This type of gaming is the only online gambling form to be allowed in Arizona. However, if you’d instead prefer fantasy sports betting, you’re not in luck. This is strictly forbidden in the state of Arizona.

On the other hand, if you want to enjoy all your favorite slots or table games, you can do so in any casino throughout the land. The main reason why online gambling is forbidden is to prevent money laundering.

When it comes to lottery, the state is quite progressive in this area. Arizona was the first one to legalize lottery, and not just for charitable purposes like many others in the US. So, you can fully enjoy a game of bingo in any casino you enter, no questions asked.

Though in 1988, a major step was taken in order to legalize gambling and open first land-based casinos, it was followed by a major turmoil. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was a different story, but it caused some troubles too. For 5 years, as the tribes developed their casinos, major legal threats were made.

Since all bad times eventually have to come to an end, Arizona came to a conclusion regarding the gambling industry in 1993, when strict regulations became somewhat looser, allowing more tribes to form casinos of their own.

Tribal Issues

Why did Arizona face so many complications in developing casino gambling? Well, the main thing you should know in order to understand this issue is that this state is home to many native Indian tribes. Indian reservations had different regulations applied to them, compared to the rest of the state. These differences created a major divide in the core of the gambling industry — one part of the state allowed alluring and practically limitless casino gaming options, while the other parts weren’t so independent.

Casino Gaming Library

Casino Gaming LibrarySo, when you take out online gambling options and sports betting, you are still left with a pretty satisfying gaming library to choose from. From slots to table games and lottery, you can enjoy all the biggest names in the industry. Charity casino games are also available, as well as betting on horse and dog races. There are 3 horse tracks and 2 grayhound tracks in total. They all have off-track betting facilities as well.

The state lottery is quite diverse. You can play bingo and other games for charity, but also as casino games. Additionally, you can buy scratch-offs and lotto tickets. Raffles and pull-tabs can be played for charity too.

When it comes to video poker, this option gathers around a lot of passionate players. Social poker games are also available, and they do not require any additional fees or donations.

What Do Official Documents Say?

Since the beginning of the casino gaming industry development in this area, there were a lot of conflicts between the tribes and the state. That’s why Arizona tried to create more detailed laws and terms so that wouldn’t happen again.

First, they defined that table games are only allowed if they are games of skill. This definition excludes many beloved games, such as craps and roulette. This doesn’t mean that these games are forbidden altogether — only in the form of a physical table game. When it comes to electronic table games, they are treated as slot machines, therefore, they’re allowed as well.

The interesting thing about the Arizona law regarding gambling is that they forbid social poker games that involve any fee, rake, or even a ‘voluntary donation,’ as well as any game that allows the house to keep at least a small amount of your winnings. That’s why most poker games are actually not allowed including online poker, as well as betting on many sporting activities.

When it comes to the amusement and social games, they are only allowed as part of the state, county, or district fairs, and even then, they have to obtain permission.

The Gray Area

In gambling, as much as in any other industry in Arizona, some cases prove that the social divide is still real. The most notable example of it is one of Cochise County’s former judges who has been hosting social public games since 2005. Whenever asked about him being an exception, the judge claims that he endures in the battle for social gambling, and against the Indian monopoly over them.

The Charges

The main reason why Arizona banned online gambling throughout the state, with the exception of pari-mutuel horse racing, is the fact that many money-laundering activities occurred this way. In addition, there were many cases of creating illegal international gambling rings, forcing the Attorney General to freeze over 100 bank accounts and make several arrests over the years.

The Other Side

Despite the initial troubles regarding gambling, Arizona today offers a lot of options for enjoying casino games. Though there are still some illegal activities happening from time to time, the state is working hard on creating strict and more efficient laws in this area so that gambling would be safe and enjoyable for everyone in Arizona.