Just before Arizona proudly hosts its first Super Bowl in a legal-wagering jurisdiction, the state is proposing legislative changes.
The proposed bill comes at a time when Arizona is still in the process of launching its online sports betting sites, offering penny slots and daily fantasy sports. If the bill passes, it would bar government officials who worked on issues related to gambling legislation from taking any related jobs within two years after leaving office.
It also requires that state regulatory agencies must not prejudice decisions based on a person’s political affiliation or involvement with gambling operators. This bill seeks to make sure that Arizona does not become vulnerable to influence or abuse arising from public servants profiting by leveraging their experience and contacts which could be seen as a form of self-enrichment.
If passed, it would send a clear message that legislators and regulators will be held accountable for their actions regarding legal gambling in Arizona.
The Provisions of the Bill
This new bill tackling the gaming industry is a significant set of changes for those involved in enacting gaming legislation tied to tribal-state compact amendments. It seeks to prohibit current or former governors, gubernatorial staffers, lobbyists, lawyers, and legislators involved in these acts from having a financial interest or working in the gambling industry until April 2026.
In addition, it applies to any person who was involved in negotiating said amendments effective after January 1, 2021. This proposal is an important step towards creating more transparency surrounding the gaming industry and ensuring individuals are held accountable during this process.
Gonzales is Presenting an Array of Modifications to Consider
Legal sports betting in Arizona has been a reality since September 2021. A series of legislation signed compacts and industry changes were integral in providing the necessary infrastructure to launch and operate online betting services. There are now more than 15 online sportsbook providers operating in Arizona, as well as a handful of retail locations throughout the state.
The swiftness and scope at which these operations were created have come under increasing scrutiny, with media reporting conglomerates such as The New York Times and Bloomberg News highlighting potential conflicts of interest in the state’s regulations. In response to this, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey proposed a list of tweaks to ensure that public opinion is accurately factored into any future decisions surrounding the sports betting industry.
According to Bloomberg, Gonzales raised concerns about the rapid speed of Arizona’s Department of Gaming and its affiliation with the gaming industry. The state’s sports-betting law required that rules for event wagering be established in a mere 60 days. Astonishingly, everything was ready just as the NFL season kicked off in 2021!
Arizona Enforces Stringent Laws and Regulations
Despite being in a Republican-controlled state, the prospects for S.B. 1617 becoming law have a high chance of not materializing due to Arizona’s strict rules and regulations placed upon its public officials after leaving office. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, former officials are not authorized to utilize information obtained from their official duties for profit over two years post-termination.
Even with this in mind, the legislation proposed by Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales is more focused and comprehensive when it comes to sports betting than the existing laws put forth by the state itself. All things considered, the long odds that face S.B. 1617 could be too much to overcome for it to become law.