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The Arizona legislature has yet to really tackle the issue of online poker, so we have to apply the land-based rules. So, since you aren't "artificially profiting" from playing online poker, it appears that online poker is legal in the Copper State.
As of 2013, online poker in Arizona is not 100% clear. Online gambling for entertainment purposes is illegal, and the UIGEA prevents banks from dealing with gambling transactions. However, there are no Arizona state laws specifically dealing with Internet poker sites. So what can you do? Let's go into more detail about legal Arizona online poker below.
There were several initial waves of gambling in Arizona's history at which points gambling was legal. But by 1910, most states were outlawing it with the exception of horse racing. Arizona chose to follow their lead on gambling and was even forced to take an official stance against casinos in order to gain Congressional support for statehood. Of course, there were still illegal gambling houses for many years. The residents of the state became accustomed to little gambling and voted against legal casinos gambling in 1950, though it was near that time that horse racing was joined by dog racing and charity gambling in the legal zone. In the 1980s, Arizona permitted the sale of slot machines to charity organizations and neighboring Nevada. At that point, no one could have imagined that legal Arizona online poker would ever become an issue.
Q. Couldn't Indian casinos make more money if they had online poker sites in Arizona?
A. The general sentiment from Indian casino operators around the country is that they would prefer not to tackle online poker. There is a fear that the online business will not only be costly, prohibitively to some tribes, but it will detract from their regular foot traffic in the casinos. Concerns of diminishing the much-needed revenue that the tribes receive from the casinos prevent them from embracing the idea of online poker in Arizona.
Q. How does Arizona feel about Nevada legalizing online poker?
A. Legislators from Arizona have yet to speak openly or publicly about their neighbor's decision to allow online poker in Arizona.
Q. Will Nevada attempt to partner with Arizona for online poker?
A. Nevada is currently in the process of awarding licenses and establishing an online poker framework for the state. As of August 2012, there have been no public efforts to reach out to legislators about Arizona online poker. Intrastate poker could become interstate poker, with larger player pools and more opportunities for growth in the future, should the states decide to work together.
Q. Wasn't UIGEA proponent Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona?
A. Yes. His strong stance against online poker in Arizona or online gambling of any kind led to his support of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. As a federal legislator, though, he likely had little effect on the state laws.
Q. How difficult is it to change the state law against online gambling?
A. Changing a law requires an amendment, but there would need to be broad support among the legislators and voters to push for such a change. With no current push for any type of new or amended legislation, Arizona poker sites are a distant hope for many players.
It didn't for some time. Gambling laws were reinforced with stricter penalties in the late 1980s, but social gambling was exempted. That led to bar gambling and an eventual crackdown in 1990. Arizona established a lottery in 1991, at about the same time that Indian tribes began to fight for the right to transform their bingo halls into casinos, after they installed slot machines without proper compacts with Arizona. They took their fight to the courts, and a federal judge ruled that negotiations must happen. That led to the eventual conversion of casinos for more than 20 tribes, with compacts beginning to be signed in 1992 and moving forward for several years. Indian gaming compacts were then brought to the voters of the state for renewal in 2002, and it was approved to allow Indian gaming to continue. A total of 21 of the 22 tribes in Arizona have gaming compacts with the state. Native American casinos have not yet embraced online poker in Arizona.
Arizona law has addressed online gambling in general in allowing it to be done for entertainment purposes only. The outcome must not be in control of any person other than the players, meaning the house cannot have an edge in the games, and players cannot be separated from their money in order by the lure of a prize. Players must also compete with no one having an advantage over another. It is complicated but comes closer than most states in clarifying a stance on Arizona online poker. Further, the state has an unusual exemption to its horse racing law, in that wagering is allowed in person but not online. This puts the state even further apart from others and less likely to accept Arizona poker sites in the near future. To contact your legislators about these laws, click here: Arizona Legislature.
There are more than 20 Indian-run casinos in Arizona, some of which are bingo halls but most being casinos with table games like poker. The most well-known to poker players is Casino Arizona, as it hosts a number of live poker tournaments each year and attracts players from around the United States. Others have smaller tournaments and charity poker events. None have indicated any type of support for Arizona online poker, though most Indian tribes in most states have opposed the idea unless forced to deal with it by lawmakers.