Arizona Casinos and Gambling Laws

Arizona is a conservative state in many ways, including with regards to gambling.  Gambling is generally illegal unless noted in a statutory exclusion in which such an exclusion or exclusions are explicitly described so as not to lead to loopholes.  Similar to states such as Alaska and others, while public gambling is illegal, social gambling is not. Additionally, amusement gambling is not prohibited.  Fundamentally, gambling refers to games or activities in which chance is the primary factor determining whether a person will win.  Despite the fact that it is common knowledge that “the house mainly wins” when engaging in gambling at casinos, gambling is ultimately about chance, which is otherwise known as luck.  When statutory exclusions exist, they exist because the noted game or activity is not fundamentally about luck but rather, about some other factor.

Gambling Allowed in AZ

In Arizona, amusement gambling is gambling in which luck is not the overarching factor in whether a player wins.  Instead, skill is the greatest determinant as to whether someone will win a game or activity. Statutory exemptions are also granted for social gambling, which refers to gambling that per the law “is intended to permit casual, friendly wagering among people, over the age of 21, that are competing on equal terms with each other.”  Arizona state law allows for raffles, and neither the legislature nor the Supreme Court have defined the term.  Nevertheless, most people understand it to mean activities in which individuals provide money for a ticket for the chance to win a prize.  Raffles are typically associated with philanthropic endeavors and events.

Gambling Online

Funny enough, Arizona’s laws prohibiting online gambling are directed towards gambling operators rather than gamblers.  This is a large gap in terms of the state’s legislation on the matter.  It causes considerable confusion and can scare off state residents and visitors away from certain gambling activities that are actually legal for fear that they may be illegal.  Millions of football and other sports fans participate in weekly fantasy football betting pools during their sports’ respective seasons.  That is not the case in Arizona where most gambling activities are prohibited.  However, very recently – late last year and early this year – attitudes have been changing, leading to the possibility of laws changing.  Supported by companies such as ESPN and CBS Sports, which already permit Arizona residents to participate in pools even though, by law, they are ineligible to win prizes, Arizonans may soon be allowed to win prizes, including money.

While a law permitting fantasy football or other fantasy gambling games will be a step in the right direction for sports fanatic gamblers, it should be noted that many Arizona residents already engage in such games and do not realize that as it stands, such games are currently illegal. Although this may concern or scare some Arizona residents, this sort of gambling is a very low and often overlooked offense, and definitely something that prosecutors could care less about when compared to more pressing matters such as violent crimes and felony financial crimes such as money laundering or theft.  More traditional gaming, however, has been stalled by state representatives as well as Congressional representatives.

Recent Updates with AZ Gambling Laws

In September 2013, a bill was presented that would have permitted a new tribal casino to be developed in Glendale, Arizona.  It was defeated, however, with the rationale being that the state it could have been a slippery slope in which the state could potentially become a “full-scale gaming state” in contradiction of the conservative values of the people in the state.  Although representatives have seen to stall such legislation, it appears as if Arizona residents are interested in having more gambling opportunities both for recreational as well as economic growth reasons.

Despite the fact that it is a conservative state, attitudes are ultimately changing, especially since the government, including the Department of Gaming has indicated that tribal gambling revenue has brought in substantially more revenue than in years past.  This past year, that amount was 13.5 million dollars.  Based on historical figures, that amount is almost 3% more than the year prior.  As a result, more bureaucrats are beginning to see the growth and public works funding possibilities by promoting further gambling opportunities in the state.  Already, more than a million dollars has gone toward Department of Gaming operations as well as wildlife conservation, the latter of which is a central concern for state residents.

Casinos in Arizona

The state’s casinos include the following:

  • Apache Gold Hotel-Casino
  • BlueWater Resort and Casino
  • Bucky’s Casino
  • Casino del Sol
  • Casino of the Sun
  • Cocopah Casino and Bingo
  • Desert Diamond Casino
  • Desert Diamond Hotel-Casino
  • Fort McDowell Casino
  • Gila River Casino – Lone
  • Gila River Casino – Vee Quiva
  • Gila River Casino – Wild Horse Pass Hotel-Casino Chandler
  • Golden Ha:sañ Casino
  • Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino
  • Hon-Dah Resort Casino
  • Mazatzal Casino
  • Paradise Casino
  • Casino Arizona
  • Talking Stick Resort
  • Spirit Mountain Casino

They are all tribal casinos.  In other words, they are all owned and operated by American Indians.



  • Arizona Daily Star. (2014, January 31). Gaming Revenue for State about $13.5M for Quarter.
  • Dinell, S. (2014, February 5). Arizona Bill would Legalize Fantasy Sports . Retrieved from
  • Fitzpatrick, J. (2013, September 17). House Passes Bill to Block Tohono O’odham Casino in Glendale. Retrieved from Cronkite News
  • Office of General Counsel – Arizona State University. (2014). Gambling

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