Arizona gambling law is among the most liberal in the country, thanks to the presence of Native American casinos, as well as the popularity of national and state lottery games. The State’s journey into the realm of gambling has been a rollercoaster, and it even involved an armed standoff between a group of casino supporters and law enforcement. Nowadays, all legalized gambling within the state is limited to Tribal casinos, horse and greyhound racing, and the official state lottery.

This page is a detailed guide to gambling laws in the State of Arizona. We’ll talk about the history of gambling laws, and discuss the legality of various forms of gambling within the Valley of the Sun state.

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Online Gambling in Arizona

Laws in Arizona are somewhat outdated and don’t address online gambling, and the local lawmakers don’t seem particularly interested in changing the status quo. There are no prohibitions against playing on offshore sites, as the local officials focus more on punishing unlicensed gambling operators instead. However, the legality of such activities is questionable due to the state’s land-based gambling regulations.

So, while the state could theoretically go after individual online players, the Arizona authorities have never pursued this course of action. Several offshore sites like BetOnline and Bovada accept Arizona-based gamblers. To sum it all up, online gambling is present in Arizona, but it exists in a legal grey area.

History of the Gambling Laws in Arizona

Arizona became a state in 1912, though the population of this State boomed in the years after WW2. Unlike many other states in the US, there was no gambling legislation to kick start the gambling establishments after the great depression here.

Arizona’s casino scene really rose to prominence after 1988, when the tribal lands were first granted permission to build casinos. When the state issued a few tribal groups the right to provide games of chance and skill for profit, a new industry was born. And because the state earned a substantial amount of tax money from existing tribal gambling properties, its approach to gambling legislation has been more relaxed in recent decades.

Here’s a timeline of significant legal events in Arizona.

1912: Arizona became a state, and the government banned all forms of gambling where the house makes a profit. Certain gambling activities were excluded from the prohibition. These included amusement gambling (which involves no prizes beyond more play) and social gambling (home games in which no one makes a profit).

The 1950s: Horse and greyhound racing started.

1958: The Arizona Racing Commission was created. The racing industry flourished while it held the monopoly, but it declined when other forms of gambling were legalized.

1980: Arizona voters approved a state lottery in November. It was the first time a state west of the Mississippi River approved a lottery. AZ residents could purchase the tickets in the following year. The state started participating in interstate lottos such as Powerball and Mega Millions.

1988: Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed due to a court ruling known as California vs Cabazon band of Mission Indians. The Court’s ruling stated that Arizona doesn’t have the authority to regulate gaming on tribal land. The Indian Regulatory Act required tribes to sign a pact with the state before casinos could be operated on reservations. Only games that were legal off the reservations could be offered without a gaming pact. At the time, this included off-track betting, bingo, and lottery-type drawings.

1990: Several AZ tribes opened slot parlors. Fife Symington, who was governor at the time, asked the FBI to raid all Indian gambling venues. The Indians decided to defend their property, which led to a three-week standoff.

1992-1994: The state signed Tribal-State Gaming Compact with 16 tribes (17th joined in 1998), which allowed them to provide casino gaming and slot machines.

2002: Arizona voters approved Proposition 202, which initiated new gaming compacts between the State and Native American tribes.

2003: Compacts were renewed, and an additional five tribes were added — bringing the total number to 21.

2017: Governor Douglas A. Ducey signed a Compact with the Hopi tribe.

Forms of Gambling That Are Currently Legal in Arizona

Arizona state permits many forms of gambling. In the following section, we’ll give a quick overview and a legal status for each.

Sports betting: Racetracks are permitted to offer live horse and greyhound racing betting services. Taverns and tracks may simulcast wagering. Licensed internet companies are also allowed to provide off-track betting services. All racing wagers must go through pari-mutuel pools. Fantasy sports betting is not legal in AZ.

Lottery: The Arizona lottery is permitted to sell lotto and scratch-off tickets and participates in inter-state draws such as Mega Millions. The minimum legal age for lottery buyers is 18.

Land-based casinos: There are numerous legally licensed casinos in Arizona, but they are all located on tribal land. To run casino operations, the tribe owning the casino must have a gaming compact signed with the state. You can find slots at over 20 lavish casino resorts around the State. Charity casino games nights are also allowed, but these events are strictly controlled in terms of prizes and need to be licensed in advance.

Live poker: Poker rooms are legal in tribal casinos. All major forms of poker games are permitted except No Limit poker. The maximum bet is $500, which includes the original bet and any raises. Social poker games are allowed, though these can not involve any rake or fee or even “voluntary donations”. The social poker exemption also covers home games.

Online poker: There are no licensed AZ poker sites. Though the law doesn’t directly mention online gambling, there have been busts in the past for online gambling activity.

Table Games: Only table games that rely on skill are permitted. That means that most table games are legal (including blackjack), but roulette and craps are not. Electronic table games fall into the category of a slot machine, so these may be licensed. This also means that roulette and craps are legal when not in table game format.

Bingo: Bingo is legal on Tribal lands and via charity purposes. Permissible games on this type of charity events are raffles, bingo, and pull-tabs.

Where to Gamble in Arizona?

Gaming in AZ is governed by the Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compacts between the state and all 22 federally recognized Arizona tribes. Under the compact, a maximum of 20,500 slot machines is allowed within the state. It’s estimated that there are over 15,600 slot machines across land-based casinos in Arizona.

The maximum wager limit for a slot machine is $35 per play for most tribes. Furthermore, a maximum of 3,600 table and card games is allowed in AZ (poker, blackjack, house-banked poker). There are currently around 500 table and card games in operation. The maximum wager limit for these games varies from tribe to tribe.

Sixteen Arizona tribes operate 24 Class III casinos in the State. Another six tribes do not have casinos but have slot machine rights that they may lease to other tribes with casinos.

The popular brick-and-mortar casinos owned by Indian Tribes in Arizona are:

Apache Gold Casino Resort

Apache Gold Casino Resort is located on 777 Geronimo Springs Blvd, San Carlos, AZ and is only a short drive from the city of Phoenix. The luxurious resort is equipped with a wide range variety of amenities, including 146 rooms, five restaurants, a sports bar and a top-notch casino floor.

The casino boasts a splendid collection of over 482 slots machines of various themes and game styles. The table games portfolio is quite impressive as well, with several 3-card poker and blackjack varieties on offer 24/7. You can also try your luck at the 200-seat bingo hall and compete for hefty awards. On top of that, the casino operator frequently runs promotions, offering players a chance to win cash prizes for even more ways to play.

Cocopah Casino & Resort

With plenty of entertainment, promotions, and booking options, Cocopah Casino & Resort is a great place to visit if you’re visiting the Yuma area. Located at 15268 S Avenue B, Somerton, the resort has 101 sleeping rooms, several Jacuzzi suites, Fitness Center, Business Center, and many other luxurious amenities.

Casino floor steals the spotlight here — slots lovers are spoilt with choice, as Cocopah casino features over 500 state-of-the-art video and reel slot machine games. There are also four blackjack tables with limits from $5 to $200 and a fantastic bingo hall. What’s more, players can sign up with the Cocopah Rewards Club, earn points from playing casino games and redeem them for valuable prizes.

Mazatzal Hotel & Casino

Mazatzal Hotel & Casino is a first-class resort located in the mountain town of Payson, just 90 minutes from Phoenix. Apart from offering a mind-blowing view at the majestic Mazatzal mountains, the lavish resort features the best gaming action around, spa, an indoor swimming pool, conference room, and an outdoor swimming pool. With over 400 slots machines that can be found on the casino floor, you’ll have plenty of options to keep you entertained for hours. If blackjack is your game, you can enjoy the area’s professional dealers while playing this casino classics in an opulent environment. Poker aficionados can give it a go at Texas Hold’em tables, as well as the Omaha Hi/Lo variant with a progressive Scoop-a-Doop jackpot.

FAQ

Are casinos legal in Arizona?

Casino establishments that are located on Indian reservations are legal. There are 24 legally-owned land-based casinos in the State.

Can I play roulette in Arizona?

Roulette is not legal in AZ casinos. However, electronic versions of the game may be legal if authorized by the regulatory bodies.

Can I play daily fantasy sports in Arizona?

Unfortunately, you can’t. The state law forbids betting on daily fantasy sports contests, and no legitimate sites operate within the state.

Can I play online poker in Arizona?

You can, but only at unlicensed offshore poker sites. Online poker is not licensed in Arizona.

What is the minimum gambling age in Arizona?

The minimum gambling age for lottery sales and charity gambling is 18. Racing wagers and casinos have a minimum gambling age of 21 years.