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Widespread legalized gambling comes soon to Arizona; here's what to know
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Widespread legalized gambling comes soon to Arizona; here's what to know

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PHOENIX — So you think the Cardinals are going to win their first game?

You should be able to bet on it by then. In fact, you should even be able to put money on how many yards either team will get.

And you may even be able to sit in the stands, or watch on TV, and wager from your phone whether the quarterback will make the next first down.

All this is because Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to sign legislation by the end of the week legalizing gambling on professional, college and fantasy teams.

There’s more:

Fans of keno, essentially a form of lotto, will be able to visit their local fraternal or veterans club to play there.

The Arizona Lottery is getting permission to run hourly online numbers games of its own, allowing people to essentially buy lottery tickets by phone.

Would-be general managers will be able not just to “draft’’ their own players and join fantasy leagues, but also win or lose money on how well their fantasy teams performed.

There will be new ways to gamble at tribal casinos, including roulette and, for those who have watched too many James Bond movies, baccarat.

But not just yet.

Pretty much all of this is linked to the federal Office of Indian Gaming within the Bureau of Indian Affairs approving new gambling compacts that already have been approved by 21 of the state’s 23 gaming tribes.

That agency has 45 days to act. And nothing is official until published in the Federal Register, which has to happen within 90 days of submission.

All of that should be in place by around the second week of August, just about when the Cardinals have their preseason opener.

But Arizonans won’t be limited to wagering on football — or even just the Cardinals. The new law will allow bets to be placed on anything sporting.

Golf or tennis more your speed? Sure. Even boxing or Australian football. Of course, that assumes that whoever is making the “book’’ is offering that event.

Some of the “how’’ details have yet to be worked out.

Professional sports franchises will take on-premises bets

What’s clear is that every professional sporting franchise will be entitled to a license to take bets on their premises. So someone at Chase Field could bet on the Diamondbacks while watching a game, but also place some money on a soccer game going on elsewhere, for instance.

Wagering will also be allowed on college games of all types across the country. But there’s a very specific restriction.

On professional games, gamblers will be allowed to place “prop bets.”

Short for “proposition bets,’’ this involves wagers on something other than the ultimate outcome. That could be yardage per game or the number of strike-outs by a given player.

But Arizona lawmakers have made prop bets off limits in collegiate games.

And the Gaming Department is allowed to impose other limits if wagers would be “contrary to public policy,’’ such as betting on whether a quarterback will be knocked out.

Using your phone to wager

How fast could any of this occur? As fast as the app on your phone, said Staie Stern, government affairs director for the firm Fan Duel.

Fan Duel already handles sports wagering for other states and could end up being under contract with any of the teams here to do the same for them.

“Let’s assume with the new 5G technology that you’re able to send and receive information quickly, you should be able to sit in a stadium and do in-game betting, just like you could at home where you would presumably have a good internet connection,’’ Stern said.

Wagering also will be available at up to 10 remote sites across the state. The idea is they likely would co-locate in bars and restaurants where there already is off-track betting on horse races.

Arizonans could also go to a horse track and place bets there on professional sports. This kind of wagering also could be conducted at tribal casinos.

Eligibility to wager

There’s some technological issues to be worked out.

For example, at any time Arizonans happen to be on tribal lands, they aren’t supposed to be placing remote bets through one of the sports teams that has a license to take wagers. And the reverse is true, with tribal casinos not allowed to take bets from gamblers not on the reservation.

That will require “geofencing,’’ essentially a method of determining where the player is located and, as necessary, blocking the connection.

There are other issues.

One involves players proving they are 21, the minimum age allowed.

That’s not a problem for someone making an in-person bet. But for mobile wagering, it likely will involve setting up an account and then providing some proof of age, like a copy of a driver’s license.

Addiction issues</&h6>

Then there’s the question of whether the state, by making it much easier to place a bet — and financially benefiting from it — effectively is encouraging gambling and its effect on people with an addiction.

The new law will require those with gaming licenses to provide people who are “problem’’ gamblers with a toll-free number and website established by the Department of Gaming.

Individuals can also place themselves on a list of “self-excluded’’ persons who are prohibited from wagering. Then, if they somehow manage to place a bet and happen to win, their earnings would be donated to charity.

Yet at the same time, the legislation provides some incentives, indirectly underwritten by the state, that could encourage people not sure about placing a bet on sports to try their hand.

It provides the companies that are operating the gaming sites with a deduction of up to 20% from their adjusted receipts — the figure that determines how much they have to pay the state — to compensate them for offering “free bets or promotional credits’’ to customers.

That deduction decreases to 15% for the third year of operations, 10% for years four and five, and evaporates in the sixth year on the premise that those free tastes will no longer be necessary.

Today the Reid Park Zoo celebrates the birthday of Penzi, the African elephant, who is one year old. This not-so-little elephant has captured the imagination of the community as she splashes in her mud wallow, gobbles up hay, and follows her big sister Nandi around to learn how to be an elephant. Video courtesy of Reid Park Zoo.


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