December 16, 2021

Arizona's Gambling Laws – Are They Too Tough?

By Sona Mathews

The United States is often heralded as the most forward-thinking, modern country on the planet; for example, California has one of the most diverse economies around; when it comes to types of business ideas, this is an area in which they excel.

There are several areas in which the US lags behind its neighbors.

Arizona's Gambling Laws – Are They Too Tough?: eAskme
Arizona's Gambling Laws – Are They Too Tough?: eAskme

One of those such areas is gambling, an activity that is so synonymous with America and Las Vegas that many from outside the country would assume it is a vital part of American day-to-day life.

Despite America's deep association with gambling, the legal landscape of the activity is full of blurred lines.

In New Jersey, for example, all forms of mainstream gambling are perfectly legal, whereas here in Arizona, things are a little different.

In this article, we will examine Arizona's gambling laws and explore the possibility that they may be too tough, especially in comparison with nearby States.

Arizonan Gambling Overview:

Despite being so close to Nevada – the spiritual home of global gambling – Arizonans struggle to enjoy the same gambling freedoms as their Nevadan neighbors.

Arizona's tough stance on gambling means that inhabitants are only legally allowed to gamble on State-sanctioned lotteries and racing.

Beyond that, there are a few Tribal areas within the State where casino gambling and poker are permitted.

In general, though, lawmakers frowned upon gambling within Arizona, and that attitude spreads to online gambling too, which is also illegal in the State.

Why Is Arizona So Tough On Gambling?

There are several reasons why Arizona takes such a tough stance toward gambling, but the two biggest reasons can be surmised with an analysis of the following famous gambling quotes:

"The next best thing about gambling and winning is gambling and losing." 

Nick Dandolos

Former Greek professional gambler Nick' Nick the Greek' Dandolos summed up this quote's essence of gambling.

'The idea of winning is completely fetishized by a section of gamblers, to the point where the prospect of losing never comes into their minds. However, the very essence of gambling is that players will most usually lose more than they win.'

This fact is feared by Arizonan lawmakers, who tend to take the view that gambling poses a threat to society. Legalized gambling, they would argue, would lead to huge swathes of desolate players down on their luck.

However, to fear that is to miss the point of gambling entirely.

Rather than being an activity that is all about money, gambling is a hobby, a pastime and a form of relaxation to most.

Sure, money is won, and money is lost, but to most gamblers, this is a secondary concern.

Very few gamble beyond their means, and those who don't do so as a way to relax and unwind with their friends.

They accept losing as a necessary part of the process and limit their spending to ensure the losses never impact their enjoyment.
Losing is as vital a part of gambling as winning, and just as laws should not be made based on when gamblers win, they should not be made based on the fact that they also lose.

"Poker has the feeling of a sport, but you don't have to do push-ups."Penn Jillette

This famous poker quote from internationally renowned magician Penn Jillette strikes right at the very heart of the legalized poker argument.

In Arizona, lawmakers classify poker as a 'game of chance,' allowing them to outlaw it as an activity – outside of protected Tribal areas.

Whereas in most American States, this assertion has proved incorrect, even by High Court Judges.

By their very definition, games of chance are games in which the player cannot influence the difference between winning and losing.

To say this of poker is wrong, as the quote from Penn Jillette illustrates.

Poker is a sport in which players of all abilities battle it out against each other, using their experience and knowledge to come out on top.

For example, the rules of showdown poker utilize all of these qualities mentioned.

If we were to accept that poker is a game of chance, we would inadvertently be writing off the success of Phil Hellmuth, Bryn Kenney and Phil Ivey as nothing more than luck.
The idea that poker is a game of chance would be downright offensive to professionals who have dedicated their lives to studying and mastering the game.


There are several complex arguments to be made about the legality of gambling and online gambling in general.

However, evidence from other States and further afield places like the UK suggest that a well-regulated industry can be a safe and enjoyable one for everyone.

Online gambling can thrive financially while remaining socially conscious if the government is interested in regulating and monitoring it.

It seems bizarre that gambling should be legal in one part of Arizona and not in another regarding the land-based sector.

Even more bizarre is the reasoning behind the prohibition on a game like a poker, which is incorrectly defined as a game of chance by lawmakers.

What can't be argued, though, is that Arizona's tough stance on gambling looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Up until the time of writing, there appears to have been no watershed moment that could lead to changing attitudes.

That isn't to say that won't happen, though. As more and more American States continue to legalize more forms of gambling, the pressure will rise on Arizona to do the same.

Until then, Arizonans can continue to gamble in Tribal areas or make the trip to Nevada to enjoy the flashing lights of Las Vegas.

If you still have any question, feel free to ask me via comments.

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