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Sat, Jan. 25

Miner Editorial | Sports betting: A pool of revenue for Arizona

Arizona can capture sports betting revenue lost to Nevada

It’s game on for legal sports betting in Arizona after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 Congressional act that lawyers argued was a violation of the Tenth Amendment anti-commandeering doctrine.

The High Court justices spent years reviewing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prohibited states from authorizing, licensing, regulating and controlling sports gambling.

On May 14, they ruled 6-3 that the federal ban was unconstitutional, and that states have the authority to legalize and regulate sports gambling.

PASPA granted an exception for Nevada, Oregon and Delaware, and further exempted New Jersey if the state enacted legislation within a year allowing sports gambling. It did not, continuing with the state constitution prohibiting sports betting.

The case, Christie v. NCAA, was initiated in 2012 after New Jersey voters supported amending the state Constitution to allow sports gambling. The Legislature legalized and regulated sports gambling in casinos and racetracks.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Basketball Association, National Football League and Major League Baseball, collectively the NCAA, sued the governor of New Jersey at the time, Christopher Christie.

The case carried broader implications beyond sports gambling. Had the NCAA prevailed, it could have seriously undermined constitutional federalism.

Like alcohol, cigarettes and medical marijuana, sports gambling will require extensive regulation and taxation, strict licensing qualifications and oversight of financial reporting.

However, the potential revenue could be worth the bureaucratic web that’s spun when the government gets involved with business.

Arizona would receive $35.8 million to $178.9 million in taxes from sports betting by 2023, according to a 2017 report from Las Vegas-based Global Market Advisors.

With an adult population of 5.4 million and average household income of $78,783, Arizona’s handle – or the total amount bet – would be $596.4 million on the low side to as much as $2.75 billion, GMA estimated.

One report predicts that 18 states will introduce sports betting bills this year.

We’ve been looking for a pot of gold to build I-40 interchanges at Rattlesnake Wash, increase teacher salaries and fund public health and safety programs. This may not be enough, but it’s a start.

And it’s better than leaking that revenue to Laughlin and Las Vegas.

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