Online gambling in Arizona is a work in progress, but the state has a relatively robust gaming industry. It is often overshadowed by its neighbor, Nevada, but Arizona is home to 25 tribal casinos. The state not only added online sports betting, but also legalized other forms of online gambling including daily fantasy sports, Keno, and mobile lottery-based draw games.
While online casinos are not legal yet in Arizona, the state as a whole has a variety of gaming options to choose from. If you want to know more about gambling in AZ (online or in person), you’ve found the right place here at PlayUSA.
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Are online casinos legal in Arizona?
No. But, you do have sweepstake and social casinos like Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots, and Funzpoints. Both Chumba Casino and Luckyland Slots provide players with social casinos while Funzpoints offers sweepstakes casinos. In a sweepstakes casino, players can enjoy many of their favorite casino games, such as slots, online blackjack, and video poker. Players can redeem “sweeps” coins won by playing online slot machines and collect real cash prizes.
If real-money online gambling is legalized in Arizona, expect the same offering of games as in other states that have embraced online casino gambling such as New Jersey and Michigan. They include:
- Online slots like Cleopatra, Wheel of Fortune and Quick Hits.
- Table games such as video poker and live dealer studios (where you bet on games dealt in real-time and shown via a video stream).
Can you play online in Arizona?
If you want to bet on sports through your mobile device, then you can do that as much as you like as of September 2021. If you want to play keno or a lottery game, you can do that, too. You can even play in daily fantasy sports contests. However, if you’re wanting to play online casino games or online poker, you’re not able to do so in Arizona.
Like many states, Arizona takes the default position that all gambling is illegal until or unless defined by a new law or statute. According to the Arizona Department of Gaming, “all gambling is prohibited” unless it falls into one of seven categories:
- Amusement gambling such as arcade games, marathon prizes, rounds of golf, and carnival prizes.
- Social gambling, which includes the “Friday night poker” games, and covers “gambling where the players compete on equal terms, only the players can receive winnings and no other person receives a direct or indirect benefit from the gambling.”
- Regulated gambling such as Indian casinos, dog tracks, bingo, and state lotteries (and as of 2021, sports betting).
- State fair gambling, which covers gambling “conducted at state, county or district fairs.”
- Tax-exempt organization gambling such as raffles operated by a tax-exempt company.
- Historical society gambling, which covers raffles conducted by “a designated state, county or local historical society which has been in existence for 5 years.”
- Nonprofit organization gambling, which covers raffles conducted by a nonprofit organization.
In order to offer online casinos, the state would need to not only renegotiate the compact but also write a new law. This is what they had to do in order to get legal sports betting off the ground.
Can you play online poker in Arizona?
No, not at all. As with online casinos, online poker rooms are not addressed specifically in state law and are, therefore, considered illegal. Since Arizona’s default position is all gambling is illegal unless it falls into one of those seven categories, poker cannot be played online.
Will Arizona regulate online gambling in the future?
The state’s ability to pull a sports betting and DFS bill together this year after several legislative hiccups gave a false appearance that things can happen there quickly. Note: DFS went live in Arizona on Aug. 28. Gov. Doug Ducey renegotiated the tribal compact for five years — including an expansion of retail casinos — and without such an agreement sports betting would not have happened.
There was scant mention of online casino expansion in Arizona during the process to pass the sports wagering bill and although it can be seen as a stepping stone, don’t expect a quick appearance of new online casinos in Arizona.
Who will regulate online gambling in Arizona?
The Arizona Department of Gaming oversees all gambling activities within state borders, including the relationship with tribal entities. The state compact is ultimately approved by the US Department of the Interior. If and when legal online casinos or poker sites arrive in Arizona, the ADG will be in charge of them as well.
What is the legal gambling age in Arizona?
You must be 21 or older to legally gamble in Arizona. This is standard for most states and applies to AZ tribal casinos as well.
Legal online gambling vs. offshore sites
Numerous sites will attempt to dance around the legality of online casino gambling in Arizona. There’s no law making it illegal, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal. Bottom line: Legal Arizona online casinos do not exist. Sites and apps that offer real money games to Arizona players are based offshore. Those sites come with certain risks:
- Players have no assurance their deposits or winnings will ever come back to them. As an unregulated offshore site, issues and complaints arise but there is no regulatory body to help address the concerns.
- Sites operating outside the US are beyond the reach of state and federal laws and consumer protections. Some of these sites claim to be licensed (and may be) in certain countries. That doesn’t help you in Arizona.
- Players will be providing sensitive information for identity verification to any gambling site. Do you want an unregulated offshore site beyond American laws in possession of bank account information, credit cards, and personal information? Account security is unknown on offshore sites vs. regulated sites. If the site is compromised or you run into an issue, the avenues for help are limited.
So be safe and play at sweepstakes casinos instead when you’re in Arizona.
Are there retail casinos in Arizona?
Yes, there are 25 tribal casinos in Arizona and zero commercially owned casinos. According to the ADG, 16 tribes operate Class III casinos in the state. As a result of a new Compact negotiated in 2021 – the one that brought Arizona sports betting – the Gila River Indian Community plans to open its fourth casino, this one near chandler, by 2023.
“Another six tribes do not have casinos but have slot machine rights they may lease to other tribes with casinos (Transfer Agreements). Under the tribal compacts, a maximum of 20,500 slot machines are allowed in the state, including transfer agreements (tribes with compacts may transfer their slot machines to other recognized tribes, allowing those that do not have casinos, or are located in remote areas, or receive gaming revenue). Currently there are about 15,600 slot machines in operation. The maximum wager limit is $35 per play for most tribes.”
The 2021 laws (HB2772 and SB1797) expand the casino count with up to four new casinos in the Phoenix area. Here is a full list of active tribal casinos in the state as of 2021.
|Apache Gold Casino Resort||928-475-7800||777 Geronimo Springs Blvd, San Carlos, AZ 85550||San Carlos Apache Tribe||Y|
|Apache Sky Casino||928-475-0077||777 Apache Sky Blvd. Winkelman, AZ 85192||San Carlos Apache Tribe||Y|
|Blue Water Resort & Casino||928-669-7000||11300 Resort Dr, Parker AZ 85344||Colorado River Indian Tribes (C.R.I.T.)||N|
|Bucky's Casino||800-756-8744||1500 AZ-69, Prescott AZ 86301||Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe||Y|
|Casino Arizona||480-850-7777||524 N 92nd St, Scottsdale, AZ 85256||Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community||Y|
|Casino Del Sol||855-765-7829||5655 W Valencia Rd, Tucson, Az 85757||Pascua Yaqui Tribe||Y|
|Casino of the Sun||520-883-1700||7406 S Camino De Oeste, Tucson, AZ 85746||Pascua Yaqui Tribe||Y|
|Cliff Castle Casino Hotel||928-567-7999||555 W Middle Verde Rd, Camp Verde, AZ 86322||Yavapai-Apache Nation||Y|
|Cocopah Casino||928-726-8066||15318 S Avenue B, Somerton, AZ 85350||Cocopah Indian Tribe||N|
|Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel||866-332-9467||7350 S. Nogales Hwy, Tucson, AZ 85756||Tohono O'odham Nation||Y|
|Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment||866-332-9467||1100 W Pima Mine Rd, Sahuarita, AZ 85629||Tohono O'odham Nation||N|
|Desert Diamond Casino||623-877-7777||9431 W Northern Ave, Glendale, AZ 85305||Tohono O'odham Nation||Y|
|Desert Diamond Casino||866-332-9467||Hwy. 86, Mile Post 55, Why, AZ 85321||Tohono O'odham Nation||N|
|Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino||480-802-5000||15406 N Maricopa Rd, Maricopa, AZ 85139||Ak-Chin Indian Community||Y|
|Hon Dah Casino||928-369-0299||777 AZ-260, Pinetop, AZ 85935||White Mountain Apache Tribe (W.M.A.T.)||Y|
|Lone Butte Casino||800-946-4452||1077 S Kyrene Rd, Chandler, AZ 85226||Gila River Indian Community||Y|
|Mazatzal Casino||928-474-6044||Highway 87, Mile Marker 251, Payson, AZ 85541||Tonto Apache Tribe||N|
|Paradise Casino||760-572-7777||450 Quechan Dr, Yuma, AZ 85364||Quechan Indian Tribe||N|
|Spirit Mountain Casino||928-346-2000||8555 AZ-95, Mohave Valley, AZ 86440||Fort Mojave Indian Tribe||Y|
|Talking Stick Resort||480-850-7777||9800 Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85256||Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community||Y|
|Twin Arrows Casino||928-856-7200||22181 Resort Blvd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004||Navajo Nation||Y|
|Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino||800-946-4452||15091 South Komatke Lane, Laveen Village, AZ 85339||Gila River Indian Community||Y|
|We-Ko-Pa Casino||800-843-3678||10438 WeKoPa Way, Fort McDowell, AZ 85264||Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation||Y|
|Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino||800-946-4452||5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85226||Gila River Indian Community||Y|
|Yavapai Gaming Center||928-445-5767||1505 AZ-69, Prescott, AZ 86303||Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe||N|
History of gambling in Arizona
As is often the case in a state with no commercial casino gambling, Arizona’s casino scene arose due to the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act of 1988. The act allowed federally recognized Native American tribes to negotiate agreements (denoted as “compacts” in the language of the act) with their resident state governments. This allows the tribes to operate casinos on reservation lands.
In Arizona’s case, that meant 22 tribes could potentially come to the state legislature in search of agreements allowing Vegas-style casinos on their property.
Many of Arizona’s tribes chose to move forward and install gaming on their reservations in the early 1990s. They did so without the benefit of negotiating compacts with the state. This ultimately resulted in a showdown between the state and the tribes.
Arguments between the state and the tribes continued until May 1992. At that time, the National Indian Gaming Commission clarified that tribes must have a compact with the state to operate slot machines. As a result, Gov. Fife Symington asked the FBI to raid the offending casinos. What happened at the Fort McDowell Casino was unprecedented in the movement toward gambling within a state.
The Yavapai Indians operated a casino with about 300 slot machines on their Fort McDowell reservation. At the time of the FBI’s raid, several other tribes already had their machines seized. So the tribe prepared for action when its turn came.
At dawn on May 12, 1992, federal agents converged on the casino. They loaded the machines into trailers to be hauled away. The tribe responded by blocking the only entrance road to the casino with heavy-duty machinery and large vehicles. After an eight-hour standoff that featured an agent with a rifle and binoculars keeping watch on the roof of the casino, the agents agreed to leave the machines behind for a cooling-off period. The incident ended up lasting three weeks.
Here are other key dates in the history of gambling in Arizona:
1992-1994: Arizona’s first set of compacts with 16 tribes were signed.
1998: A 17th compact was signed by Gov. Jane Hull. The compacts provided exclusive rights “to operate slot machines and casino style gaming, limited the number of slot machines and casinos, established comprehensive rules governing gaming, and set minimum internal control standards for casino operations,” according to the Arizona Department of Gaming.
2002: Voters approved Proposition 202, authorizing the continuation of tribal gaming.
Dec. 2002-Jan. 2003: Hull signs new compacts with 16 tribes.
2003: Gov. Janet Napolitano signs compacts with five more tribes.
November 2017: Gov. Doug Ducey signed a compact with the Hopi Tribe, the last remaining unsigned. All agreements are “substantially identical, lasts for 10 years and can be renewed for another decade and an additional three-year term,” according to the ADG.
April 2021: Ducey signs a new five-year compact with the tribes, ushering in legal sportsbooks in AZ. DFS games, Keno and online draw games are also given the OK alongside the potential for more casinos in the state. Arizona online casinos are not part of the gambling expansion, however.
August 2021: Daily fantasy sports goes live in Arizona and sportsbook operators begin signing up customers ahead of an anticipated Sept. 9 launch.
September 2021: Sports betting becomes an option for Arizona residents across the state as a host of online and retail sportsbooks open their doors. The launch occurs just in time for the beginning of the 2021 NFL season.
Responsible gambling in Arizona
With as much legal gambling that is allowed in Arizona, it is no surprise that the state equipped its tribal casinos and other gambling entities with a network of gambling addiction resources. The Division of Problem Gambling oversees intervention and self-exclusion efforts in Arizona. It works in tandem and in cooperation with the tribes. According to the state website form:
“The Department shall create and maintain a list of persons who voluntarily seek to exclude themselves from all Class III Arizona Gaming Facilities.”
The form also notes how the exclusion program works in Arizona. Self-exclusion forms are available at all tribal gaming offices, and the tribes have 72 hours to forward a self-exclusion application to the DPG.
In addition, the AZ Division of Problem Gambling subsidizes treatment for individuals with a gambling problem or those affected by it, too. It also lists state-backed treatment assistance programs. And of course, additional resources for problem gambling include:
- Gamblers Anonymous
- Smart Recovery
- National Association of Administrators for Disordered Gambling Services (NAADGS)