Interview with Arizona State Senator T.J. Shope about Sports Betting

Q&A With Arizona State Sen. T.J. Shope on Sports Betting

Arizona is on the verge of introducing sports betting in time for the NFL season kickoff in September, with co-sponsor and rookie Sen. T.J. Shope playing a key role in making it happen.

Shope (R) discussed his role in legislation and its importance for the people of Arizona in an interview with

What factors have led to the legalization of sports betting in Arizona at this time? What specific aspects of the legislation motivated you to endorse the bill for sports betting within the state?

Senator T.J. Shope shared his enthusiasm for sports betting, mentioning that although he was not directly engaged in the initial talks regarding the bill and tribal gaming compact, he was regularly updated on the developments of those conversations.

The Gila River Indian Community and the Tohono O’odham Nation in my district have piqued my interest in this field significantly.

As a devoted Arizona Cardinals fan and season ticket holder, my love for the team led me to consider a new opportunity. When Governor Doug Ducey’s team approached me in late summer/early fall, I enthusiastically agreed to support the legislation without fully grasping its specifics, relying only on a verbal summary of the discussions.

As the start of our Legislative Session approached on the second Monday of January, the details of our legislation became more evident. We made a few adjustments before officially introducing it in late January.

What could the new law mean for Arizona’s economy and who is likely to benefit from it?

After intense negotiations, the legislation resulted in clear winners, including tribes who can now offer Las Vegas-style gaming at their casinos and sportsbooks, as well as Arizonans who now have access to sportsbooks and gaming apps off-reservation.

Arizona has the opportunity to establish itself as a major player in the betting market.

The funds generated from off-reservation activities as per this law will go towards the state’s General Fund. Tribes have come to an agreement with the governor’s office to uphold their current level of contributions to the state through gaming compacts, which involves annually providing a portion of their self-reported earnings to the state.

For more than three decades, tribes in the state have enjoyed the benefits of tribal gaming. Now, the entire state will share in the increased revenue without the necessity of raising taxes.

Tribes On Board

BAZ: With over 30 tribal casinos in the state, how important was their backing for this new legislation?

In 2002, Arizona voters approved an amendment to the state’s Constitution granting complete gaming exclusivity to Arizona tribes. This milestone achievement was made possible by the crucial role played by the tribes, marking a significant moment in Arizona’s history.

The governor’s office successfully negotiated a deal to grant off-reservation sportsbook licenses in exchange for allowing a substantial expansion of on-reservation gaming, including the addition of all table games found in Nevada and sportsbook licenses. Securing agreements from every tribe to sign their new compacts was a significant achievement for the governor.

BAZ: Are there any additional schedules we need to be aware of? When is the launch planned for?

Event wagering is scheduled to launch on September 9th, as announced by the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG).

Arizona Sports Betting: What Lies Ahead

BAZ: What do you think the landscape of Arizona sports betting apps will look like in two to three years after they are introduced?

I think it’s important to explore how tribal gaming has influenced Arizona’s culture. Despite tribal gaming being present for more than three decades and urban tribes in Phoenix and Tucson being deeply ingrained in the state’s culture through local events and sponsorships, I don’t believe it has had a major impact on our cultural identity.

I believe that it positively affects casual fans interested in betting on major sporting events and greatly benefits residents who wish to participate in fantasy sports for financial gain.

Only Arizona and Florida provide MLB spring training, which coincides conveniently with March Madness.

Arizona is famous for attracting over 60% of out-of-state visitors to the Cactus League. These visitors can enjoy betting on college basketball and other events during their stay in the state, showcasing the wide range of activities available to them.

Arizona has always been a favorite spot for tourists, and now visitors can also experience event betting and fantasy sports while they’re here. To all my friends from other states, why not come and enjoy the sunny weather and take in a baseball game!



Morgan Winston

Morgan Winston, a columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas, has accumulated more than three decades of sports experience, having previously worked at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form, and Oddschecker.

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