Arizona Sports Betting Officially Legal as Texas Gambling Expansion Looks Doomed

  • The Department of the Interior gave final approval to the Arizona tribal gaming compact
  • HJR133 wants to bring casino resorts to Texas, but it was left pending by a House committee
  • Arizona authorities are already working on the sports betting regulatory framework
  • A number of local professional sports teams support betting legalization in Texas
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Sports betting is now officially legal in Arizona, while attempts to legalize casino resorts and sports wagering in Texas appear unsuccessful. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A historic day for Arizona

Federal authorities have given the green light to a tribal gaming compact that legalizes sports betting in Arizona. The US Department of the Interior approved the updated compact on Monday, publishing it in the Federal Register.

Governor Doug Ducey tweeted about the “historic” gaming compact after it became official:

This means that activities including sports betting and daily fantasy sports contests are now legal in Arizona. Tribal casinos will also be able to offer new types of games, such as craps and baccarat.

Meanwhile, in Texas, efforts to push through legislation to allow for Vegas-style casino resorts and sports betting are not looking optimistic.

House Joint Resolution 133 (HJR133) is looking to create Las Vegas-style casino resorts in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. The Texas House Committee on State Affairs left the measure pending on Monday after it missed the deadline for passage. Legislation that was attempting to legalize sports betting in the state is also pending.

The current legislative session in Texas ends on May 31.

The path to sportsbooks rollout

Getting the all-clear from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs was the last step in the approval process for the Arizona tribal gaming compact. The hope is that sportsbooks could be open in time for the beginning of the NFL season in September.

sportsbooks could be open in time for the beginning of the NFL season

The Arizona authorities are aiming to publish the draft sports betting regulatory framework in mid-June. The final draft regulations will be viewable online and will be open to public feedback. Once the feedback period is up, the department will make changes as needed before finalizing the regulations.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed the compact on April 15. The Arizona Department of Gaming could then begin creating the regulations for the sector. It took five years of negotiations to get the compact over the line.

Together with the tribal casinos, major sports teams will also be able to get retail and online sports betting licenses. Sportsbook operators were quick off the mark in securing access to the Arizona market. FanDuel signed a deal with the Phoenix Suns, while Caesars Entertainment is now an official partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

No action on Texas casino resorts, sports wagering

Industry analysts were never confident that gambling expansion measures in Texas would gain passage. Las Vegas Sands Corp. was one of the main backers of HJR133, providing funds to the Texas Destination Resort Alliance.

resort casinos would help to create tens of thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars

The Texan coalition is behind the push for a constitutional amendment that would see the rise of four new casino resorts, among other gambling projects. It claims that the allowance of resort casinos would help to create tens of thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in economic activity for the state.

HJR133 seeks to alter the state’s constitution and set up the Texas Gaming Commission. The regulatory body would be in charge of licensing and regulating a limited number of casinos in the four biggest cities in Texas.

Following the news that HJR133 was pending following Monday’s deadline, Las Vegas Sands senior vice president of government relations Andy Abboud reaffirmed the company’s long-term commitment to Texas. He said: “We have made great strides this session and have enjoyed meeting with lawmakers about our vision for destination resorts and answering all the questions they have.”

While the House State Affairs Committee held a hearing on a sports betting bill in April, a vote on the matter did not take place before the final deadline on Monday. A similar bill in the Senate failed to get a committee hearing. The Sports Betting Alliance was in support of this legislation, with a number of professional sports teams in Texas on board.