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Supreme Court sports betting ruling doesn’t change status quo in Arizona

(Facebook Photo/Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino)

PHOENIX — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling may have opened the door for sports gambling in all states, but it didn’t make it legal for you to run out and place bets in Arizona right away.

It just put the issue in the hands of state lawmakers, where it belongs, according to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

“It would take a change in state law and for the legislature and the policymakers to effectuate that change before we see any sort of gambling on sports,” Brnovich told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday after the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that outlaws gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.

“It’s still illegal in Arizona.”

Brnovich said he was “very pleased” with the ruling and that Arizona had been involved in the New Jersey lawsuit that led to it.

“We actually filed a brief supporting the state of New Jersey because we thought the case was really about more than even sports gambling,” Brnovich said.

“It was about federalism, it was about state sovereignty, and issues like gambling were things that historically were supposed to be left to the states.”

Plenty would need to happen before sports gambling could be legalized — and hence taxed — here.

“Should Arizona decide to go forward and legalize sports betting like New Jersey, a comprehensive scheme of regulations and laws would need to be enacted regarding zoning, taxing and include gaming boards,” KTAR legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said.

While Brnovich supported the ruling, he said policymakers should approach the issue “with eyes wide open.”

“While sports gambling can be lucrative, it’s not a panacea,” he said. “It’s not going to solve every ill of our society.

“It’s not going to provide a huge increase, for example, in teacher funding.”

For example, Brnovich said that while $150 million was legally wagered in Las Vegas on the last Super Bowl, the sports books’ profits were only a small fraction of that total at $1.1 million.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The 1992 law barred state-authorized sports gambling with some exceptions. It made Nevada the only state where a person could wager on the results of a single game.

One research firm estimated before the ruling that if the Supreme Court were to strike down the law, 32 states would likely offer sports betting within five years.

The American Gaming Association estimated that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Martha Maurer and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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