Arizona Tribes Sign Historic Gaming Compact With State, Opening Door for Casino Expansions, New Table Games, and Sports Betting

Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, middle, and Arizona tribal leaders put their signatures on a document at a bill signing allowing a major expansion of sports betting in Arizona at an event at the Heard Museum Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Phoenix. The measure approved by the Legislature adds additional types of table games at tribal casinos and for the first time allows sports betting under licenses issued to tribes and pro sports teams. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix, AZ — After more than five years of negotiations, Arizona Tribes and the state’s governor, Doug Ducey, signed a long-awaited tribal-state gaming compact in Phoenix last Friday. The compact agreement, which will run for 25 years until 2046, “allows casino expansions for tribes to operate thousands of more slot machines, open at least four new casinos, and take bets on new table games,” according to a press release from the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA).

Amendments in the agreement also include sports betting measures that will allow Tribes and professional sports organizations to open 20 sportsbooks in the state.

After the compact was finalized, NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. said, “What a great day for tribal government gaming and the tribes in Arizona. It was truly an honor to bear witness to this significant gaming compact signing ceremony between sovereign tribal governments and the state of Arizona.”

“First and foremost, tribal government gaming has always been about providing vital services to our tribal citizens towards ensuring future generations,” Stevens continued. “Further, it affirms that tribes are great neighbors and friends who continue to do our part to contribute to the economic growth and critical jobs for American families.”

“I can’t overstate the impact the tribal-state gaming compact amendment and its associated legislation will have on our state,” Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said in a press release after signing the compact. “Gaming employs thousands of Arizonans, and it generates millions in tax revenue that benefits areas like K-12 education, conservation, and treatment centers.”

“Today’s signing is a culmination of years of partnership and engagement among many diverse stakeholders—and we did it by bringing everyone to the table, pushing individual agendas aside, and putting Arizona first,” Ducey continued.”

In addition to the Governor and other political leaders from the state, the signing was attended by many Tribal leaders, including Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation President Bernadine Burnette.

“We argued before we agreed and we fought before we found middle ground, but here we are today, celebrating the most unique unicorn in political life—a genuine win for us all,” Governor Lewis told the audience at the event. Lewis was also “instrumental in tribal and state efforts to amend the compact,” according to Governor Ducey’s press release. Some of the amendments include event wagering, Keno through lottery, fantasy contests, and mobile lottery off-reservation.

Arizona first signed gaming compacts between Tribes and the state in 1992. Since then, all 22 of the state’s federally-recognized Tribes have entered into agreements. This update has been heralded as the most significant modernization in two decades. Gaming in the state now employs thousands of Arizonans and generates millions in tax revenue for state and local governments.

Native Business Magazine

Native Business Magazine

Carmen Davis - Founder, Publisher and Executive Editor

Mrs. Davis is the founder, publisher and executive editor of the only Native American wholly owned and operated national tribal business publication, Native Business Magazine, and the producer of the annual and nationally attended Native Business Summit.

Mrs. Davis is also president of Davis Strategy Group has over 23 years of service to Indian Country and as an entrepreneur she has successfully established, operated, managed and grown several businesses in multiple sectors. She is equal parts a strategic visionary and behind-the-scenes implementor, essential in guiding and overseeing every process of brand development, business expansion, nation-to-nation relationship building and more.

She was named in 2009 as one of the first recipients of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s, “40 Under 40” award which recognizes up and coming community and business leaders from across Indian Country.