Arizona Gambling and Casinos

Short Summary:  There are only a few forms of legalized and regulated gaming in the State of Arizona, but believe it or not, nearly the full possible gaming experience can be found in the state by way of the wide variety (location and type) of games offered by the tribes through the Arizona Tribal compacts.  These are explored along with online gaming options here.

Arizona is definitely more liberal when it comes to gambling than states such as Alaska and Utah, but is far less liberal than states such as New Jersey and Nevada. Falling somewhere slightly more conservative than a state such as Ohio, Arizona tries to find a line between its semi-conservative moral compunctions and balancing the ability for the state to garner revenues. Specifically, these forms of gambling are legal in Arizona:

  • Charitable
  • Pari-Mutuel
  • Lottery
  • Tribal

Charitable Gambling laws in the State of Arizona consist of raffles, drawings as well as live bingo. In the case of raffles, any non-profit organization may conduct a raffle provided it is conducted in such a way that no monies are made in profits by anyone with exception to the organization itself.

When it comes to the conducting of live bingo, the State of Arizona requires that a bona fide non-profit agency apply to the state for a license for the conducting thereof and be approved. After this has happened, the requirements for the conducting of live bingo continue from there and are somewhat specific. However, if you would like to look into them, you can do so here.

In terms of the state itself, it is not the one to issue charitable bingo licenses or collect any taxes as both of those functions seem to be left for counties, towns or other municipalities. Therefore, it is legal in the State of Arizona, but only to such degree as the county or municipality deems appropriate. The State of Arizona only regulates that to the extent that they do set upper limits for the amounts of the revenues that can be taken by the counties or municipalities in the form of taxes. The percentages of the taxes vary depending on how much the non-profit organization makes in bingo profits.

Raffles in Arizona are not taxed whatsoever.

Arizona does conduct state lottery, which includes participation in national lottery games, such as Powerball and Mega Millions. The state lottery in Arizona is governed by the authority of the Arizona State Lottery Commission.

Arizona offers pari-mutuel racing, which takes place at Turf Paradise Race Course, located in Phoenix, Arizona. Both live and simulcast racing are permitted to take place at this location as both are authorized by the state. Rillito Park Racetrack, located in Tucson, also conducts live horse racing. Arizona Downs, located in Prescott Valley, currently offers simulcast and stopped offering live racing in 2010, but they plan to start live racing again in 2019.

Everything of or related to live and simulcast wagering is governed by the Arizona Department of Racing and/or the Arizona Department of Gaming Division of Racing.

Arizona Tribal Casinos are numerous and are governed by compacts with the State of Arizona. These are actually listed on the Arizona Government site.

As well as a separate listing for tribes who have compacts and the right to open casinos in certain areas, but presently have no operating casinos.

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Arizona Online Gaming Law

In the State of Arizona, no operator is authorized to conduct any form of gambling that has not been specifically licensed and authorized by the state, or in the alternative, governed by Tribal Compact. In the event that anyone operates any such unauthorized gambling, they could and probably would be found guilty of the offense of, “Benefitting from Gambling.

What is interesting about the offense of, “Benefitting from Gambling,” is that it does not apply to players, but merely to operators. Therefore, individuals who are merely playing online would not fall afoul of those laws in anyway whatsoever.

Arizona law enforcement has targeted illegal gambling cafes in the past as well as other unlicensed operations, but these targets have only focused on the operators, who were arrested in a few cases. Players were not arrested or fined for their participation.

From what we can tell, there is nothing in the Arizona code that makes it in any way illegal to gamble however you want to provide that you are acting as a mere player. For that reason, online gambling is just as good as legal within the State of Arizona if you are a player. Arizona is only concerned with operators and any offshore online operators are out of their jurisdictional reach.

Live Casinos In Arizona

The State of Arizona is unique simply because such a high percentage of its land is Tribal land. After all, this was not only Tribal Land going all the way back prior to European colonization of America, but Arizona also represents reservation land that other tribes that would otherwise be in the Eastern United States were moved to.

The State of Arizona is also quite friendly to Native Americans in the sense that any Native American tribe that can make a claim to land ownership or be in any way from Arizona may conduct any gambling operations that it wishes, provided that it has paid the necessary fees to the state. The State of Arizona does regulate the casinos to a limited degree by way of the tribal compacts, but it is fairly unrestrictive. Here is a paragraph from the Government’s website:

Under the Arizona Tribal-State Compacts a maximum of 18,158 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 that are located in remote areas, to receive gaming revenue). Currently there are about 15,000 slot machines in operation. The maximum number of slot machines allowed in any casino is 1,301, and there is a wager limit of $29 per play for most tribes.

Therefore, the State of Arizona limits the total number of machines by casino and by the total allowable amount within the state’s borders, as a whole. The tribes may also transfer the right to house machines (in terms of number) back and forth by whatever means and agreement they would like, provided that no individual casino exceeds the maximum number of machines allowed.

The State of Arizona also regulates the casinos in a few other ways, such as minimum returns to player. Those are mentioned on the same page, and are as follows:

A minimum theoretical percentage payout of 80 percent for slot machines during the expected life of the game.
A minimum theoretical percentage payout of 83 percent for video poker games, and 75 percent for keno during the expected life of the games.

Believe it or not, the percentage required payouts in all of these cases are greater than that required by the State of Nevada (except keno) as the State of Nevada has a required minimum theoretical return of 75% for all electronic games.

While Arizona may not want to enable its own lottery commission to license and regulate its own casinos, it seems that the state is extremely friendly and hospitable in working with the tribes to engage in mutually agreeable and beneficial compacts. The tribes (mostly) get to do whatever they want when it comes to gambling, and the State of Arizona gets to limit the total number of machines and casinos to ensure that the whole state is not overrun by gambling interests. The maximum number of theoretical casinos is 43.

Land Casinos In Arizona

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino

Operated by the Ak-Chin Indian Community of Maricopa, Arizona, the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino offers a HUGE variety of gaming options which includes Bingo, Keno, Poker, Slots and Table Games. This is a casino of such size as to rival many of the land-based casinos in other U.S. states with legalized and regulated gambling by the state lottery commissions. You probably wouldn’t even know the difference if you were to visit.

The casino’s website is located here.

And, they advertise that they have precisely 1,059 slot games, which would also include any video poker and video keno offerings. The casino also has an unspecified number of table games, but it does include at least six unique games consisting of Blackjack, Pai-Gow Poker, Three-Card Poker, Mississippi StudUltimate Texas Hold ‘Em and High Card Flush.

This casino also operates live keno as well as livepoker.

Cocopah Casino

Operated by the Cocopah Tribe and located in Somerton, Arizona, the Cocopah Casino (in addition to being fun to say) offers Bingo, Table Games and over 500 slot machines. Billing itself as a, “Resort,” the Cocopah Casino has a hotel as well as a wide complement of other amenities and activities in addition to the gaming.

In terms of, “Table Games,” this consists of four tables of Blackjack, according to its own website, which are operated only during limited hours.

Being smaller than the Harrah’s, it should come as no surprise that this casino does not offer live poker, though it does have live bingo during certain hours.

Blue Water Casino

Operated by the Colorado River Indian Tribes, this casino is located in Parker, Arizona and bills itself as Blue Water Resort and Casino.

Similar to Harrah’s, this casino offers the full gamut of gambling options to be found anywhere in Arizona with bingo, slots, table games and live poker. The only thing that Harrah’s has that this casino seems to be missing is live keno. As with Harrah’s, this casino offers a wide variety of amenities and other activities.

The table games consist only of Blackjack and Three-Card Poker, at least according to their website.

Which also does not list the number of slot machines they have in their slot machine section, nor does it even give an approximation.

Fort McDowell Gaming Center

Owned and operated by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, this place bills itself as a, “Gaming Center,” and is located in Fountain Hills, AZ.

This is another casino that advertises itself as a resort and offers slots, tables, poker and bingo, but unlike Harrah’s, no live Keno. It seems Harrah’s might be the only place to go if you are one of the fourteen people on Earth for whom Live Keno is a dealbreaker. It’s not for me, of course, though it is a fun thing to have.

This casino advertises itself as having in excess of 900 slots.

Additionally, this casino offers a wide variety of table games including Blackjack, Spanish 21, Free Bet Blackjack, Push Your Luck, Pai-Gow Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em and Three-Card Poker. Finally, the poker room must be fairly active, because according to their website, it is open around the clock.

Spirit Mountain Casino

Located on Highway 95 and operated by the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, the Spirit Mountain Casino is a popular gaming destination for passerby and one of the destinations that many people outside of the state have heard of, mostly by way of driving by and seeing it. This is not to be confused with the Spirit Mountain Casino that is located in Oregon, in fact, that casino is a totally different tribe called the Grand Ronde.

This casino includes 250 slots, according to its website.

Amongst these are slots, video poker and video keno. While off of Highway 95, the listed location on the website is the Mojave Valley.

Wild Horse Pass/Vee Quiva/Lone Butte

There are actually multiple properties, all owned by the Gila River Indian Tribe, named the Wild Horse Pass. We are listing all three of these together, because that is the way that the Gila River Indian Tribe chooses to do it on their website under the general moniker of, “Glia River Hotels and Casinos.

They say that Vee Quiva has over 900 machines, Wild Horse Pass has over 1,000 and Lone Butte Casino has more than 800 machines, for a total of over 2,700 machines across three properties, which again, is how they state it on their website.

Wild Horse Pass is located in Chandler, Vee Quiva is located in Lane Laveen and Lone Butte is also located in Chandler, Arizona.

Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort

Owned and operated by the Navajo Nation, this casino-resort is located in Flagstaff, Arizona and offers a hotel with amenities and entertainment as well as gaming. The gaming offerings consist of more than 1,100 slot machines, bingo and table games (which open at 10:00a.m.).

Some of the table games listed are Blackjack, High Card Flush, Cajun Stud, Pai Gw Poker and Heads-Up Hold ‘Em. Bingo is conducted from Wednesday-Sunday.

Casino of the Sun and Casino del Sol

This is owned and operated by the Pascua Yaqui Indian Tribe and claims to be the first of its kind west of the Mississippi. I’m not sure what that refers to because Nevada had gambling operations LONG before this place, unless they are just referring to tribal gambling specifically. Either way, this is located in Tucson, Arizona.

According to the website.

As with others, they offer slots, table games, bingo and poker. Unlike the Harrah’s, they apparently do not have any live Keno.

They say they have, “Over 1300,” slot machines, so presumably, they have exactly 1,301 as that is the legal limit proscribed by the compact they have with the State of Arizona. The table games include Blackjack, Three-Card Poker, High Card Flush, Pai-Gow Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em. Both poker and bingo operate daily, with bingo operating at varying times depending upon what day it is, we recommend you call or check the website for more information.

As with many other locations in Arizona, this is a full resort including a spa as well as several other amenities and entertainment options. It’s actually pretty easy to think of Arizona as being kind of like Las Vegas in this regard, just more spread out and with somewhat smaller places.

Paradise Casino

Owned and operated by the Quechan Indian Tribe and located in Yuma, Arizona, this casino consists of over 500 machines, as well as bingo. It does not appear to have anything else to it, so no keno, poker or table games.

They do have limited entertainment offerings and do not appear to have a hotel at this property.

Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort

These are owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community of Scottsdale, Arizona. Talking Stick is a full-on resort including a wide complement of entertainment and amenities even over and above the gambling. There is even a golf course at this location and the building is HUGE.

They offer poker, over 900 slot machines, table games and keno according to their website.

However, they do not seem to offer live bingo. Or, if they do, they do not advertise it. Table Games include Blackjack, Three-Card Poker, Let it Ride, Pai-Gow Poker and Casino War and would seem to operate around the clock, though not all games are always open. Even in Vegas, not every table game offered is necessarily available 24/7. Much like Harrah’s, this casino has a proper keno hall.

The Casino Arizona is located in Scottsdale, as well. This casino is substantially smaller than Talking Stick Casino and Resort, but it still offers slots, table games and live keno.

Apache Gold Casino, Apache Sky Casino

This casino is owned and operated by the San Carlos Apache Tribe and is located in San Carlos, Arizona. This casino offers slots, table games and bingo as well as a resort with full amenities and entertainment, including golf.

There are over 500 slot games located here as well as a few blackjack tables, as of the time of this writing, the blackjack tables are not open until 3:00p.m., but you can check their website anytime to see if that has changed.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe also owns and operates the Apache Sky Casino, which is located in Dudleyville, Arizona. This casino is slightly smaller than Apache Sky, offers over 300 slot machines and also has blackjack. Blackjack begins at 2:00p.m. at this casino as of the time of this writing, but you may want to check their website to see if that has changed.

Desert Diamond, Desert Diamond I, Desert Diamond II & Desert Diamond Why

The Desert Diamonds are owned by the Tohono O’odam Nation and are located in Tucson, Sahuarita, the West Valley and the Desert Diamond Why is located in Ajo, Arizona and is basically a slots parlor.

Desert Diamond West Valley has 1,089 slot machines, a food court and a bar. They are working on constructing a much larger casino in this location, you can actually watch it in (almost) real-time here, with a picture taken every ten minutes.

Desert Diamond Sahuarita has slots, table games and keno. There are over 600 slot machines, and their website, as of the time of this writing, reports that Blackjack and Spanish 21 are available from 10:00a.m. to 2:00a.m. seven days a week:

Keno hours are posted here.

And, this establishment appears to have more dining options than do the two listed above, as well as catering.

Finally, the Desert Diamond in Tucson is the largest of all of them and offers slots, table games, bingo and keno. You can easily navigate to the keno/bingo hours for this location by starting from any of the links that have already been included above. There are over 600 slots, Pai-Gow Poker, Blackjack, Three-Card Poker and live poker are also available at this location with varying hours dependent upon the game. This appears to be the only Desert Diamond with a hotel.

Matazal Casino

The Matazal Casino is owned and operated by the Tonto Apache Tribe and is located in Payson, Arizona. This property has a hotel and the gaming offerings consist of slots, table games and bingo. It bills itself as, “Hotel and Casino,” and other than dining, it does not seem that it would constitute a resort in terms of amenities.

They have over 500 slots, which is pretty limited and fewer than they theoretically could have. According to their website, as of the time of this writing.

They offer Blackjack and LIve Poker from 10:00a.m.-1:00a.m., bingo times are also posted on the website, so feel free to check those out if that is your game.

Hon Dah Casino

This is a casino owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe and is located in White River. It bills itself as a, “Resort, Casino & Conference Center,” and lists itself as officially being located in Pine Top. The theme of this place s outdoors, which makes sense, because the majority of this resort seems focused on skiing and other outdoor activities.

For those of you who see, “Skiing,” and are surprised that such is in Arizona, yes, it can get cold in the high mountains of Arizona at certain times of the year. This resort is also big on fishing, hiking and hunting, so it would be an excellent escape for outdoorsmen with an interest in gambling…I think I’ll just stick with the gambling, myself.

In addition to the machines, according to their website.

Blackjack and poker are offered during certain limited hours.

Cliff Castle Casino

Owned and operated by the Yavapai and Apache Nation, this is a casino that is located in Camp Verde, Arizona and bills itself, “Casino and Hotel,” as opposed to resort. This is a decent stop for people with kids as it offers a bowling alley and arcade in addition to the other gambling options. The website appeared to be down at the time of this writing.

Yavapai Gaming Center and Bucky’s Casino

Yavapai Gaming Center and Bucky’s Casino are both owned and operated by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe and are located in Prescott, Arizona. Bucky’s offers blackjack as well as machines while Yavapai Gaming Center only has machines. Bucky’s is the one that is connected to the resort.

Conclusion:

Online players have nothing to worry about when it comes to gambling in Arizona from their own homes as law enforcement has no interest in them and the code would not seem to make it illegal to be a mere player, just to be an operator. Aside from that, online gambling is not specifically licensed and regulated by the state, so it would not be a good idea to attempt to operate an online casino.

In terms of live gambling options, Arizona is not a whole lot different than most others states, in terms of net effect. By way of the Tribal Compacts, the tribes in the State of Arizona can basically offer as wide a range of gambling choices as you are going to find in most states with licensed and regulated casino gambling. The only exceptions to this are that some states have sportsbooks, racing and/or legalized and regulated online gambling while the casinos in Arizona do not offer any of those three things.

Beyond that, if not liberal, the charitable gambling laws are at least reasonable and Arizona operates a state lottery as well as its own racing and simulcast venues outside of the tribal casinos. In fact, it’s quite possible that the casinos do not offer anything related to racing as a favor given how fairly the Arizona compacts treat them.

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References