Arizona gambling laws embrace the state’s libertarian traditions. Arizona’s proximity to Nevada also affected its gambling laws. To keep residents’ gambling taxes from going to Nevada, it regulates most types of gambling. Thus, Arizona has 22 land-based tribal and commercial casinos, along with a horse racing industry. Read our guide to Arizona gambling laws to learn more about the state’s gaming industry.

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Arizona Gambling Law Overview

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Arizona Land-Based Casinos

Arizona has 22 land-based casinos. Most of the tribes received a maximum 475 gaming devices with periodic increases since 2002. The San Carlos Apache Tribe and Pascua Yaqui Tribe each received almost 100% more (900) gaming devices.

The Gila River Indian Community and Tohono O’odham Nation each receive 1400 devices. The Gila River casinos are Wild Horse Pass in Chandler and Vee Quiva in Laveen Village. The Tonoho O’odham Nation owns the three Desert Diamond casinos in Nogales Highway, West Valley, and on I-19 & Pima Mine Rd. The tribe also owns the Golden Ha:san Casino in Why, Arizona.

Some tribes have deals with commercial operators, such as the Ak-Chin Tribe’s deal with Harrah’s (Caesars) on Harrah’s Phoenix Ak-Chin Casino. Harrah’s handles day-to-day operations and uses its customer base to draw players from across the United States. The Ak-Chin share profits with Harrah’s

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Arizona Betting Tracks/Shops

Arizona has 6 horse racing tracks with pari-mutuel betting. These are located in the cities of Douglas, Globe, Phoenix, Prescott Valley, Sonoita, and Tuscon. It also has 2 dog tracks, which are found in Apache Junction and Tucson.

You’ll also find a total of 49 OTB facilities in a total of 26 Arizona cities. Phoenix has 12 OTBs, while Scottsdale has 4 OTBs. Mesa, Tucson, and Glendale have 3 off-track betting facilities apiece.

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Arizona Charitable Gambling

Arizona allows charitable gambling and has dozens of bingo halls. Many of these closed temporarily due to the coronavirus in March 2020, but began reopening in September 2020 and beyond.

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Arizona Social Gaming Laws

Arizona allows social gaming in the privacy of your home. Private poker games are allowed, but no one can collect a poker rake from the game. If a rake is collected, it’s illegal.

Arizona Online Gambling Laws and History

  • Arizona's Stance on Gambling

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    The Arizona Constitution allows most forms of gambling, but has strict rules for prosecuting illegal operators.

    Arizona’s lawmakers want players to gamble all they want to, but do so in a legal and protected environment. The Arizona Constitution has long passages describing what’s considered gambling and what’s considered legal gambling.

    These slides give an overview of Arizona gaming laws, plus a quick explanation of what it means for Arizona players.

  • Arizona Gambling Defined

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    The definition of gambling under Arizona law is “…one act of risking or giving something of value for the opportunity to obtain a benefit from a game or contest of chance or skill or a future contingent event but does not include bona fide business transactions which are valid under the law of contracts.”

    If residents risk their money on something that isn’t defined as a stock market investment, business investment, or purchase involving a contract, then it is gambling. Unlike some states, operators cannot argue that a game of skill is legal, because “games of skill” and “games of chance” are considered gambling.

  • 2002: Arizona Tribal Gaming Compact

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    The Arizona Trible-State Gaming Compact passed as Proposition 202 in November 2002 and lasts for 23 years (2025).

    The maximum slot machine allowed are 20,500 with roughly 15,000 currently allotted. The maximum wager limits for slots machines are $35 in most places.

    The maximum allotment of card and table games in Arizona is set at 3,600. Only 485 card and table games currently are in operation. The max wager limit varies between game type and tribe.

  • Definition of Tribal Gaming Activity

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    Section 2.  (k) “Gaming Activity” means all forms of Class III Gaming owned and operated by the Tribe and conducted within the Indian Lands of the Tribe.

    Arizona tribes that have a compact with the state can host all forms of Class III gaming. Video lottery terminals (VLTs) take the place of slot machines. At a glimpse, these look like slots, but the screen shows both the spinning reels and a bingo game (in the corner of the screen) play out at the same time.

  • Tribal Gaming Device Allotment in Arizona

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    Most Arizona tribes have an allocation of 475 electronic gaming devices. The tribes with 475 devices in the Cocopah, Fort Mojave, Quechan, Tonto Apache, Yavapai-Apache, Yavapai-Prescott, Colorado River, Ak-Chin, and Fort McDowell Yavapai tribes.

    The San Carlos Apache Tribe and Pascua Yaqui Tribe each receive 900 gaming devices, while the Gila River Indian Community and Tohono O’odham Nation each receive 1400 devices. Each has received an additional increase of 170 to 1020 devices since the original allotment.

    The non-gaming tribes as of 2002 are the Havauspai Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab-Paiute Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, and San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe.

  • Definition of a Gaming Device

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    Section 2. (l) “‘Gaming Device’ means a mechanical device, an electro-mechanical device or a device controlled by an electronic microprocessor or another manner, whether that device constitutes Class II Gaming or Class III Gaming, that allows a player or players to play games of chance, whether or not the outcome also is affected in some part by skill, and whether the device accepts coins, tokens, bills, coupons, ticket vouchers, pull tabs, smart cards, electronic in-house accounting system credits or other similar forms of consideration and, through the application of chance, allows a player to become entitled to a prize.”

    Class II Gaming (commercial) and Class III Gaming (tribal) are allowed — with a comprehensive definition of what thing of value qualifies as betting stakes.

  • Exclusions to Arizona Gaming Device Laws

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    Section 2. “(l) Gaming Device does not include any of the following:
    (1) Those technological aids for bingo games that function only as electronic substitutes for bingo cards.
    (2) Devices that issue and validate paper lottery products and that are directly operated only by Arizona State Lottery licensed retailers and their employees.
    (3) Devices that are operated directly by a lottery player and that dispense paper lottery tickets, if the devices do not identify winning or losing lottery tickets, display lottery winnings or disburse lottery winnings.
    (4) Devices that are operated directly by a lottery player and that validate paper lottery tickets for a game that does not have a predetermined number of winning tickets…”

    The list of banned gaming devices excludes EGMs that use bingo cards, lottery machines, and player activated lottery terminals (usually called “video lottery terminals”).

  • Definition of Lotto in Arizona

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    Section 2. (y) “Lotto” is the generic name for a type of on-line lottery game operated by the State of Arizona in which a player selects a group of numbers from a larger field of numbers and wins bymatching specific numbers subsequently drawn.”

    The Arizona State Lottery has a state drawings, but also allows players to bet on the Mega Millions and Powerball multi-state lotteries. Ironically, Nevada residents are known to cross the border to buy Arizona lotto tickets, because lottery gaming is banned in Nevada.

  • Definition of Card Game Table in Arizona

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    “‘Card Game Table’ means a single table at which the Tribe conducts the card game of poker or blackjack.”

    Tribal casinos are allowed to host poker and blackjack tables. Other table games aren’t allowed.

  • Definition of Wager in Arizona

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    Quote: Section 2. KKK. “’Wager’ means:
    (1) In the case of a Gaming Device, the sum of money placed into the Gaming Device in cash, or cash equivalent, by the player which will allow activation of the next random play of the Gaming Device.
    (2) In the case of poker, the sum of money placed into the pot and onto the Card Game Table by the player in cash, or cash equivalent, which entitles the player to an initial deal of cards, a subsequent deal of a card or cards, or which is required to be placed into the pot and onto the Card Game Table by the player entitling the player to continue in the game.
    (3) In the case of blackjack, the sum of money in cash, or cash equivalent, placed onto the Card Game Table by the player entitling the play.”

    Arizona closely defines wagers for gaming devices, poker, and blackjack. It’s legal but any illegal activity will be prosecuted strictly.

  • Definition of Social Gambling

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    Quote: ARS: 13-3301: “No player receivers, or becomes entitled to receive, any benefit, directly or indirectly, other than the player’s winnings from the gamble.

    (b) No other person receives or become entitled to receive any benefit, directly or indirectly, from the gambling activity, including benefits of proprietorship, management or unequal advantage or odds in a series of gambles.

    (d) Players ‘compete on equal terms with each other in a gamble’ when no player enjoys and advantage over any other player in the gamble under the conditions or rules of the game or contest.”

    Private poker games in the home or other location are allowed. The organizer cannot charge a rake or set up a house edge. Basically, poker games are legal, but anyone collecting a poker rake will be prosecuted.

  • Broad Definition of "Benefitting from Gambling"

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    Quote: ARS 13-3303: “Except for amusement or regulated gambling, a person commits ‘benefiting from gambling’ [a violation] if he knowingly obtains any benefit from gambling.”

    Comment: Regulated gambling inside licensed and regulated casinos is legal. Amusement gambling (without a poker rake) is legal. Any other form of gambling is illegal in Arizona.

Sources

  1. AZAG.Gov: Gaming Statutes
  2. ArizonaLottery.com
  3. AZRacing.gov
  4. AZCentral.com: Retired judge betting that his poker room is legal
  5. PhoenixPokerClubs.com
  6. CasinoArizona.com/
  7. TwoPlusTwo.com Forums: More strip mall busts in Arizona
  8. FoxNews.com: Dozens arrested in alleged online gambling ring