Contention developing over bill to legalize electronic bingo in Arizona

Contention developing over bill to legalize electronic bingo in Arizona

February 03, 2017 9:39 AM
by

In Arizona some contention has developed over State Sen. Sonny Borrelli’s bill to legalize electronic bingo, reports the News-Herald via its havasunews.com website. The Arizona Legislature, during this executive session, is to consider the bill, in a move reportedly causing concerns for the Arizona Gaming Commission.

Electronic bingo gambling devices are allowed at Class II gaming facilities in Arizona, but not available to public businesses, according to the Arizona Gaming Department. The Borrelli bill, SB 1312, would allow electronic bingo gambling devices to be offered for use at Series Six and Series Seven bars – those which sell wine and beer, and ban anyone under 21 from entering. In addition, the legislation provides regulations toward the maintenance of such machines.

Borrelli says the bill would place a 2.5 percent tax on such devices, which would be used to fund early childhood education and operations of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Although Borrelli has said that Class II gaming devices such as electronic bingo machines are not included in the tribal-state gaming compact, the Arizona Gaming Commission says that Class II gaming is regulated by the tribes and the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Arizona Department of Gaming spokesman Kristian Fasching, told havasunews.com, “While bingo is legal in Arizona for recreational purposes and for certain non-profits, electronic bingo machines – such as the ones Sen. Borrelli wants – would fall under the definition of a bingo gambling device or video lottery terminal, and would be covered under (Arizona regulatory statutes) and the Tribal-State Compact.”

At issue is the comparison of electronic bingo devices to “video lottery terminals” because video lottery terminals are classified as Class III devices, expressly forbidden in Arizona beyond the authority of Native American casinos.

According to Fasching, allowing electronic bingo machines could potentially pose a violation to the compact and could void the Tribal-State compact.