Arizona Poker Laws

Entering_Arizona_on_I-10_WestboundArizona has an extensive history of gambling and poker, going back even before it became a state, although over the years they haven’t been the most permissive state when it comes to gambling, and have especially paled in comparison with their neighbors Nevada and California.

The coming of the Indian Casinos did change things a lot though, once the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed by Congress, forcing states to tolerate Indian gaming (1).

There are currently 21 different Indian casinos operating in the state of Arizona (2), and this has not only stimulated interest in gambling. Many of these casinos offer live poker in addition to slots and other casino games. A good directory of the various Indian casinos in the state along with the games each one offers can be found here (3).

Poker is thriving in Arizona, both at the live tables and online, where Arizona online poker players are said to comprise a good sized portion of American players who partake in online poker these days.


Arizona Gambling Law And Online Poker

Arizona’s Revised Statutes (1), in Title 13, “Criminal Code”, Chapter 33, deals with the legality of gambling in the state. Within this chapter, various offenses are set out which are prohibited by law, such as promotion of gambling, benefiting from gambling, betting and wagering, possession of a gambling device, and possession of gambling records.

Many of these types of offenses are clearly directed at gambling promoters or gambling houses, although at first glance at least the offenses of benefiting from gambling may seem to apply to individual participants, and the offense of betting and wagering surely may.

When we look at the classification of betting and wagering though as defined (2), we can clearly see that it is directed at those who are taking bets and wagers, not those making them. In particular, it defines the offense here as “knowingly accept for a fee, property, property, salary, or reward” the taking of bets or wagers.

The classification of benefiting from gambling is less clear though and more interesting, and some have speculated on whether this classification prohibits people from making wagers (3). Among the various offenses listed, this is the only one with any potential to make gambling itself illegal in Arizona. The text here is very vague, as it only specifies that the offense is committed if anyone “knowingly benefits from gambling.”

The issue here is of course what benefiting from gambling actually means. It could mean anyone participating, and this is the reading that those who believe this prohibits it use, but if merely participating was meant here then there is no reason why that term would not have been used instead.

So in other words if the intention here was to prohibit people partaking in gambling where items of value are wagered, it makes sense that this would be set out plainly. The term “benefiting” is more likely to apply to obtaining benefits beyond the wagering itself, from making a profit from offering the gambling for instance.

Some may think that winning at gambling would involve benefiting, and while that may be true, it would be bizarre to punish only those who became lucky and not the majority of players who have not.

So this would seem to better belong in the category of facilitating gambling, like the rest of the classifications, and there is no classification that clearly or perhaps even vaguely applies to prohibiting the act of placing bets or wagers itself.


How This All Cashes Out For Arizona Players

Keep in mind that, as is the case with most states as well, Arizona’s gambling laws were not written to contemplate the reality of the internet, and have not been updated as of yet to consider situations where the gambling itself is offered not only outside the state but outside the country. So those willing to partake in online poker can be reasonably assured that they are likely not running afoul of the law, especially since no one is being prosecuted for this.

This is really what it comes down to as far as the practical side deciding whether you can play online poker legally in a state, not just what the legality may be, which is often far from clear anyway, but whether or not these laws, if they do exist, are being enforced. It is likely no law exists in Arizona therefore, and even if it did, it is not being enforced at this time. So players do appear to be in the clear here.

Among online poker rooms which offer action to residents of U.S. states, and do prohibit players from certain states where it is either illegal or unclear, none have any qualms or restrictions on players residing in Arizona, which is not only a benefit from being able to play at any of them freely, it also may add a sense of comfort and reliability to the matter.

So if you are from Arizona and either are looking to get involved in online poker, or are already playing it and are looking for the best online poker rooms which accept players from Arizona, you are welcome to check out our top recommendations for you by simply clicking here.



(1) Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
(2) Arizona Indian Casino Directory and Map
(3) Indian Gaming
(4) Arizona Revised Statutes
(5) Betting And Wagering
(6) Benefiting From Gambling

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