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Senate postpones debate on bill that would legalize sports betting across state

Fans attending sporting events could also be legally betting on them in the very near future in Arizona. (Kevin Jimenez/Cronkite News)

Fans attending sporting events could also be legally betting on them in the very near future in Arizona. (Kevin Jimenez/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Sports betting might be coming soon to the state of Arizona, but the wait will be a little longer than expected.

The discussion of SB 1158, a sports betting bill first introduced on January 23rd, was postponed Thursday at the Arizona Senate to a date to be determined later.

The bill brought forth by Republican Sen. Sonny Borrelli would introduce sports gambling to the state by giving the Native American tribes exclusive rights.

The Commerce and Public Safety Committee removed discussion for SB 1158 from Thursday’s agenda because, Borrelli said, there needs to be revisions and amendments made before any vote.

“Unfortunately, I kind of put the cart before the horse,” Borrelli said. “I have to take the emergency clause off the bill to give the Department of Gaming enough time to come up with the rules to implement this game. No doubt they will kind of cut-and-paste what Nevada does.”

Initially, Borrelli introduced the legislation with an emergency clause which means it would have required a two-thirds vote in both houses and would have become effective immediately upon the governor’s signing. Instead, by removing the clause, the bill only needs to receive a majority of votes and cannot go into effect until 90 days after the end of the legislative session.

Under the current Arizona Tribal-State Compact, the aggregate tribal contributions for the 2018 fiscal year totaled approximately $107 million, according to the Department of Gaming. Eighty-eight percent of total contributions, slightly more than $94 million, is paid to the Arizona Benefits Fund which allocates funds for public education, wildlife conservation, tourism as well as trauma and emergency services.

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