The NHL's Arizona Coyotes seek a change in the state's gambling law

 | March 30, 2022

The change requested allows them to continue the operation of their mobile sports betting app in a new arena

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In an interesting request, the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL are looking for a change in Arizona's gambling law. Their hope is that they'll continue to operate their mobile sports betting app when they move from Glendale to Arizona State University's hockey arena next season.

However, the Coyotes are being met by opposition on multiple sides. The Arizona Indian Gaming Association and other Native American tribes opposed the last-minute measure approved by the Arizona Senate's appropriations committee.

The argument now is that the 2021 law that legalized sports betting was part of a complex deal they negotiated with Gov. Doug Ducey that updated the tribal gaming compact.

The Coyotes argue that change is needed because ASU's arena holds 5,000 people, and the law allowing professional sports teams to run retail sportsbooks and mobile gambling operations requires facilities to seat at least 10,000. 

The move to the university is only expected to last for three years while the team develops a new $1.7bn arena. The arena will include restaurants, shops and apartments, and a new hockey arena on a 40-acre site in Tempe. 

The plan isn't to open a retail sportsbook within the university but continue running their mobile betting app. Coyotes' Andrew Diss, who testified for the proposal has noted the confusing nature of the change.

Diss said, "When you ask 10 different attorneys the same question, you get 10 different answers. That does not give us a sense of comfort that we're going to be able to maintain our online gaming license if we move to a facility with less than 10,000 people. That is what this comes down to."

Bradley Bledsoe Downes noted the law shouldn't be changed based on a choice by the Coyotes, "That was a compromise by the tribes and as well as the professional leagues and teams, and to go back and change that understanding, especially less than a year later, for something that is really self-created...shouldn't land at this body to address."

Downes was referring to a dispute between the Coyotes and the city of Glendale that led the city to refuse to extend its lease on the Gila River Arena.

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The Author

Ricky Gray

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