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Betting inside Suns Arena could happen as soon as next season

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HB 2772 & SB 1797 = $$$

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While the Suns have done nothing but make bettors money during the 2020-21 NBA season, Arizonans have had to utilize more creative means to turn their money into more money.

But soon, perhaps as early as next year, fans at Suns arena could bet on the purple and orange during a beer run.

Arizona is moving closer to in-person wagering as well as the legalization of online sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings. At the heart of the discussion are two bills, HB 2772 and SB 1797.

Those bills have had a journey. HB 2772 is the work of Rep. Jeff Weninger (R-Chandler, Sun Lakes, and Gilbert) who has Governor Doug Ducey in his corner. The bill got a thumbs up from an Arizona House Committee on February 10th.

“This bill is modernizing the current gaming compacts,” Weninger said. “It will allow event wagering inside and outside of tribal casinos. It will also allow online fantasy sports to operate in parts of the state as well.”

Two weeks later, SB 1797 hit a roadblock when it was pulled by the Senate Appropriations Committee. It was later added as an amendment to a bill related to horse gambling. That bill passed. On Wednesday, March 10th another committee vote will take place. If that’s a success, the bill now known as SB 1794 will go to the entire floor.

The bills are unpopular in some circles, as their passing would likely mean having to renegotiate the 2002 gaming compact. That agreement addresses the regulation of gaming revenue between tribal communities and the state. Presently tribes pay about eight percent of casino revenue to Arizona.

State Attorney General Mark Brnovich is among those opposing the bills.

“Wagering on historic racing through the use of player terminals has been prohibited in Arizona since before May 1, 2002. Any change to Arizona’s pre-May 1, 2002 gaming laws could cause one of the signatories to the Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compact (the “Compact”)[1] to initiate action under Compact section 3(h)(1), which would limit the State’s ability to regulate some aspects of tribal gaming and dramatically decrease the revenues the tribes must provide to the State.”

Watch what happens on Wednesday. That’s a big day. HB 2772 is moving more briskly, making its way through the Arizona House of Representatives, unaltered. Once that hurdle is cleared, it’s on to the Senate.

The biggest challenge has been, and will continue to be, those negotiations with tribal leaders.

“Governor Ducey has been working with tribal leaders to renegotiate the current compacts,” Weninger said. “We want to make sure that this benefits them as well as the state. We will just have to wait and see what that looks like in the coming weeks and months.”