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Legal Arizona Poker Laws

Arizona Gambling Legislation
Legal Arizona Poker Laws
Last Updated November 17, 2018

Tourists in Arizona can stand on a unique spot while visiting the state – a spot where the borders of four states collide, meaning you can literally be in all four states at once.  When both of your feet are planted on Arizona land, however, you’ll be in a place that takes a complex attitude toward gambling.

In this guide to AZ poker and gambling laws, we’ll talk about legal issues, online poker sites in Arizona and provide some analysis of the future for all types of betting in the Grand Canyon State and whether or not you can play online poker in AZ.

Is Gambling Legal in Arizona?

Type/CodeSummary
State Code Section(s)13.3301-3312; 5.101-131; 5.401-604
Definition of GamblingGambling: 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.
Definition of Exception to Gambling LawsException to gambling laws: Skill and not chance is clearly the predominant factor in the game and the odds of winning the game based upon chance cannot be altered, provided the game complies with any licensing or regulatory requirements by the jurisdiction in which it is operated, no benefit for a single win is given to the player or players other than a merchandise prize which has a wholesale fair market value of less than ten dollars or coupons which are redeemable only at the place of play and only for a merchandise prize which has a fair market value of less than ten dollars and, regardless of the number of wins, no aggregate of coupons may be redeemed for a merchandise prize with a wholesale fair market value of greater than five hundred fifty dollars.
Online Poker/GamblingArizona lawmakers have not considered online poker or gambling legislation, primarily due to the opposition of such internet games by the majority of tribes.
Live PokerLive poker is permitted in Indian-run casinos, via cash games and tournaments.
CasinosFull-fledged casinos are permitted on Indian reservations with slot machines and table games, including poker.
Sports BettingThere have been no attempts to legalize sports betting in Arizona.
DFSThere was a bill in 2016 to consider daily fantasy sports, but it did not pass and has not been introduced again since then.
Other Forms of GamblingLottery, bingo, amusement gambling, charitable casino nights, raffles, horse and harness racing, dog racing only if not on the same day as horse racing activities.

Arizona and Online Poker

Arizona has become a bit of a poker hotbed over the last decade or two, and that interest in poker transitioned online as more and more sites began offering real money poker games in Arizona.  That situation continues to this day, with thousands of players from Arizona signing up to play poker online.

AZ gambling law is almost exclusively focused on individuals or organizations that operate or promote illegal gambling.  As a result, players face comparatively little risk when engaging in illegal gambling simply as a participant.  With that said, Arizona law – like most gambling law – is quite vague and obviously subject to interpretation.

Let’s highlight a few parts of Arizona code that could be relevant to online poker players:

What constitutes gambling in Arizona? From the state code: “Gambling” or

“gamble” means 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” (Section 13-3301)

Players could have some exposure to the charge of

“benefiting from gambling” (class 1 misdemeanor): “Except for amusement or regulated gambling, a person commits benefiting from gambling if he knowingly obtains any benefit from gambling” (Section 13-3304).

There’s also the distant potential that some activity related to playing online poker could be considered “promotion of gambling,” a felony charge.  Section 13-3303 covers one who

“Furnishes advice or assistance for the conduct, organization, management, direction, supervision or financing of gambling”.

Arizona does not have a law that specifically outlaws playing poker online, but poker would seem to clearly fall under the definition of “gambling” enshrined in Arizona law.

With legal issues, it is imperative that you educate yourself (you can review the Arizona code directly – just search for “gambling” first.  If you have any doubts or questions, or if you are planning on drawing substantial revenue from online gambling, your next step should be to contact a legal professional with a background in gambling or internet gaming.  We are only trying to provide you with a starting point for your larger research regarding online gambling and the law in Arizona.

Is It Legal To Play Online Poker in Arizona?

Online poker players who reside in Arizona shouldn’t encounter too many restrictions when it comes to choosing an online poker room.  All of the major US-facing online poker rooms accept players from AZ, so getting to play poker online is simply a matter of choosing which room you think will best meet your needs.  The story is different in other states – like Washington – but when it comes to Arizona and online poker, players should find relatively few bumps in the road.

Will Arizona Try to Regulate Online Poker?

Our research did not reveal any initiatives related to online poker regulation in Arizona.  It’s always possible that the state could come along as other states choose to regulate poker player online, but we do not expect Arizona to be a leader on the issue of regulating online poker.  For the time being, players will have to be content with online poker sites that are not directly regulated by the state of Arizona.

Arizona Gambling Facts & Figures

Gambling was a part of Arizona history prior to statehood, but the casinos were shuttered in an effort to win entrance into the union.  In the century that followed, Arizona swayed back and forth on the issue of gambling expansion, with some forms winning acceptance (such as charitable gambling and the lottery) and others meeting sustained resistance (such as commercial casinos).  Tribal gambling exploded in Arizona during the 1990s, and ignited an extensive legal battle that spanned much of the next decade.  The result: Arizona is now home to nearly two dozen casinos offering games that rival the menus of their Las Vegas counterparts.

Regulated Gambling Choices in Arizona

There are a litany of choices for gambling seeking regulated options in Arizona.  The primary source of regulated gambling in the state are the 22 tribal casinos spread across Arizona, and you’ll also find a state lottery, horse racing and charitable gambling within Arizona’s borders.

All Poker and Gambling Laws by State

Arizona in the News

The junior Senator from Arizona, Jon Kyl, has been working for some time on a bill to regulate online poker at the federal level.  This bill is reportedly being developed by Kyl and Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who has been a long-time proponent of regulating online poker and online gambling.

Arizona Gambling Resources

Arizona Gaming Summary.  Prepared by the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, this brief provides an excellent overview of the commercial gambling industry in the state of Arizona.  Those interested in the facts and figures (and the economics) of gambling in Arizona will find a solid starting poker here.

Gambling Rules at ASU .  Students at Arizona State University should review this document, which covers both state law and university policy regarding gambling.  Remember, state law is only one part of the picture – your school, workplace and other environments may have additional rules and regulations regarding gambling.

Gila River Casinos   The Gila River Indian Community operates some of the largest casinos in the state of Arizona, and is an excellent starting point for gamblers looking to plan a trip to the state.  You can get more information about the tribe and the casinos they operate from this central resource.

Arizona and Poker

While not as rich in poker history as a Texas or California, Arizona plays an important role in the modern tale of the game.  The Arizona State Poker Championship has become a marquee event on the US tournament circuit, and the prowess of Arizonian poker players was proven yet again in 2012 when ASU student Jake Balsiger took 3rd place in the World Series of Poker Main Event.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has been followed the US market closely for the last 7 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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