See related histories: Arizona Department of Racing and Arizona Racing Commission; Arizona State Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission.
The Arizona Department of Gaming was created in 1995 and assumed responsibility from the Arizona Department of Racing to monitor Indian gaming operations. In 2015, the duties of the Department were expanded to include regulation of commercial horse and dog racing, pari-mutuel wagering, boxing and mixed martial arts. Statutory authority for racing and pari-mutuel wagering is found at A.R.S.§§5-101 et seq.; authority for boxing and mixed martial arts is found at A.R.S.§§5-221 et seq.; and authority for gaming is found at A.R.S. §§5-601 et seq.
The Department regulates tribal gaming activities in accordance with the Arizona tribal-state gaming compacts. Tribes that have executed compacts with the state are required to pay a share of the regulatory costs incurred by the Department. A portion of the revenues received from tribal gaming is dedicated to programs to prevent problem gambling. The Department certifies casino employees and investigates and certifies vendors who provide more than $10,000 per month of goods and services to gaming facilities. The Department does not certify food and beverage personnel who are certified by the relevant tribe. See Joint Legislative Budget Committee Fiscal Year 2016 Appropriations Report, for detailed information.
In 2015, the Legislature transferred the responsibilities of the Arizona Department of Racing to the Department of Gaming. The consolidation conveyed regulatory authority for horse racing, dog racing, harness racing, pari-mutuel wagering, boxing and mixed martial arts to the Department of Gaming, effective July 3, 2015.
Legislation was enacted in 2016 prohibiting dog racing in Arizona, effective January 1, 2017. Additional information on racing and boxing may be found in the agency histories for the Department of Racing and the Boxing Commission.
The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 established the framework for operation and regulation of Indian gaming on Indian lands. The Act established three classes of games and outlined the regulations for each class. (25 U.S.C., §§ 2701- 2721; 18 U.S.C., §§ 1166-1168).
Formal agreements, known as tribal-state gaming compacts, must be negotiated between the state and any tribe who wishes to conduct gaming activities on tribal land. The Department was created in 1995 to regulate the gaming industry and to ensure compliance with Arizona tribal-state gaming compacts.
A succession of legal challenges during the 1990’s eventually led to a series of tribal-state compacts executed by Governor Hull and Governor Napolitano. In addition, several ballot measures were proposed. In 1996, Proposition 201 was approved by the electors at the November 5, 1996 general election. In 2002, three measures were placed on the ballot. Proposition 202, which provided that gaming compacts would last for 10 years with subsequent automatic renewals, passed. Proposition 200 and Proposition 201 failed. See the Tribal Gaming History page on the Arizona Department of Gaming website: https://gaming.az.gov/tribal-gaming/history
Laws 1992, Chapter 286 authorized the state to enter into negotiations to develop compacts which would permit gaming on Indian lands. The Arizona Department of Racing was designated as the state gaming agency, and was authorized to administer the compacts. The Permanent Tribal-State Compact Fund was created, consisting of monies received from tribes as their share of the regulatory costs incurred by the Department of Racing to implement the compacts.
Laws 1993, First Special Session, Chapter 1 prohibited promotion and participation in specific gambling activities and classified a violation as a class 5 felony. The law’s statement of purpose read: “It is the policy of the State of Arizona to criminally prohibit any type of casino activities conducted by any person, organization or entity for any purpose.”
Two measures were enacted the following year. Laws 1994, Chapter 285 repealed Laws 1993, First Special Session, Chapter 1. The measure also prohibited the Governor from concurring with any determination made by the U.S. Secretary of Interior that would permit gaming on lands acquired after October 17, 1988.
The second measure enacted in 1994 outlined the licensing and certification process for persons engaging in activities associated with tribal gaming. The state gaming agency was authorized to employ hearing officers and investigators, to issue subpoenas and to receive criminal history records information from the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to evaluate the fitness of applicants for licensing, certification and renewal. See Laws 1994, Chapter 123.
Laws 1995, Chapter 76 established the Department of Gaming, administered by a Director appointed by the Governor, to carry out the duties and responsibilities related to tribal-state gaming compacts. The law transferred all matters, contracts, personnel, property, records, equipment and monies related to gaming from the Arizona Department of Racing to the Department of Gaming.
Laws 1996, Chapter 203 exempted the Department from rulemaking requirements.
Laws 2000, Chapter 14 raised the legal gambling age from 18 to 21 (for pari-mutuel wagering, lottery and Indian gaming facilities).
Laws 2000, Chapter 305 required tribal-state compacts to include guidelines regarding automated teller machine use, credit card use and availability of other forms of credit; established guidelines for treatment and prevention of problem and pathological gambling; and prohibited advertising and marketing to minors.
Laws 2002, Chapter 111 required tribes to certify employees and take steps to prevent corrupt influences from infiltrating Indian gaming. The law also authorized the Department to determine the suitability of individuals and companies who apply to engage in Indian gaming activities.
Laws 2015, Chapter 19 transferred the responsibilities of the Arizona Department of Racing to the Department of Gaming, and established a Division of Racing and a Division of Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts within the Department of Gaming. The law conveyed regulatory authority for horse racing, dog racing, harness racing, pari-mutuel wagering, boxing and mixed martial arts to the Department of Gaming, including all administrative matters, contracts, property, assets, and personnel, effective July 3, 2015.
Laws 2016, Chapter 246 prohibited live greyhound racing in Arizona after December 31, 2016. Existing dog tracks are allowed to conduct simulcast and advance deposit wagering. Conforming legislation was required to be drafted by Legislative Council staff for consideration in 2017.
Two horse racing measures were enacted in 2019. Laws 2019, Chapter 197 allocates monies from the in-state pari-mutuel handle to an Arizona breeders’ award fund and to the Retired Racehorse Adoption Fund. The allocation is phased in over three years with full distribution in fiscal year 2021-2022. The measure also authorizes racing authorities to eject or exclude a person from a racing meeting or racetrack enclosure and outlines an appeals process.
The second measure modifies conditions related to wagering on simulcasting of horse races; outlines requirements related to agreements among commercial live racing permittees in Arizona; and requires simulcast agreements to be approved by the Arizona Racing Commission. The measure also allows a permittee in Pima County to own or lease up to six new additional wagering facilities that open between August 2019 and June 2022. See Laws 2019, Chapter 293.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§5-101 et seq.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§5-221 et seq.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§5-601 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1992, Chapter 286
- Laws 1993, First Special Session, Chapter 1
- Laws 1994, Chapter 123 and Chapter 285
- Laws 1995, Chapter 76
- Laws 1996, Chapter 203
- Laws 2000, Chapter 14 and Chapter 305
- Laws 2002, Chapter 111
- Laws 2015, Chapter 19
- Laws 2016, Chapter 246
- Laws 2017, Chapter 41
- Laws 2018, Chapter 318
- Laws 2019, Chapter 197 and Chapter 293
Arizona Auditor General Performance Audit: Department of Gaming. Report No. 99-5, April 1999.
Arizona Department of Gaming website
Arizona Department of Gaming: Committee of Reference Report: House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary and Senate Committee on Judiciary. Sunset review final report. January 6, 2010.
Joint Legislative Budget Committee FY 2016 Appropriations Report, pages 177-180.
Related collections at Arizona State Archives
- Record Group 41 – Arizona Gaming Commission
- Record Group 190 – Arizona Racing Commission