arizona-locationWhat better way is there in 2018 to get away from the scorching desert heat in Arizona than by playing a game of Texas Hold’em Internet poker or live real money poker? Thankfully, players from Arizona have a multitude of legal live poker betting options, primarily through its range of tribal casinos. On the down side, the state’s gambling laws essentially prohibit Internet gambling websites. That, and Arizona is one of only five states that dissuade players in AZ from gambling real cash on fantasy sports.

Yes, Arizona’s lawful gambling stance appears to be at odds with itself, evident by former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl’s decision to back a Federal Internet gambling bill a mere six years after supporting the UIGEA. So, whether or not Arizona throws its sand covered hat into the real money Internet poker and gambling arena in 2018 or at a later stage remains a big question mark – a mystery that may not be deciphered anytime soon and leaves residents of The Grand Canyon state staring into an abyss of legit Texas Hold’em uncertainty.

We’ve found real money US poker sites that accept Arizona gamblers. Creating an account couldn’t be easier, and it’s free.

Arizona Lawmaker Looks To Legalize Fantasy Sports Wagering

In February 2014, Senator Adam Driggs (R-Phoenix, AZ) introduced a bill calling for the legalization of real cash fantasy sports wagering [1]. Arguing that hundreds of thousands of Arizonans already participate in the widely popular game, Driggs believes that it’s kind of inconsistent to discriminate against them by not offering a lawful gambling option to the people of Arizona for 2018.

Apparently, other members of legislature share Driggs’ sentiments, as SB 1468 received no opposition from the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Energy and Military. The bill is slated to be brought before the Senate floor shortly and it could pave the way for legal poker.

Arizona’s residents, along with inhabitants of Arkansas,Louisiana, Iowa and Tennessee, are currently prohibited from participating in real-money fantasy sports betting on websites such as DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo Sports.

The UIGEA of 2006 [2] introduced a clause exempting fantasy sports real cash gambling, in so long as providers adhered to certain guidelines. Yet, states with a clause relating to games of chance technically violate the parameters of the Act.

Should SB 1468 pass, fantasy sports would be deemed a game of skill and hopefully that could clear the way for real money poker Internet betting.

Can Players From Arizona Play Online Poker?

YesYes. While not all US-facing 2015 real cash poker websites accept players from the Grand Canyon state, AZ’s poker gambling brethren shouldn’t experience any trouble signing up via one of our top, most recommended,international Internet poker websites for 2018 on our homepage.

Not since the pre-Black Friday days that doomed lawful real money poker websites has creating an account, making a deposit and finding an Internet poker game been so easy. So why drive through the desert heat, when the best poker betting action is only a mouse click away?

Is Online Poker Legal In Arizona?


Arizona’s general legal gambling statues are moderate in nature as they stand now in 2018. Well, mostly.
The state takes a firm stance against online poker websites, one it would have to amend should legislators ever consider legalizing Internet gambling within the state. For now, it appears that all forms of unregulated real money Internet betting are against the law, although it is unclear how widely enforced AZ State’s anti-real cash gambling provisions actually are in 2018.

As always, it’s best to talk to a lawyer or other professional versed in lawful Internet poker gambling law before making a presumption regarding the legality of online poker. For now, let’s take a look at AZ’s real money betting law’s finer points, kicking things off with how the state of Arizona defines the act of gambling:

“Gambling means one act of risking or giving something of value for the opportunity to obtain a benefit from a game or contest of chance or skill or a future contingent event…” Section 13-3301.

legal-lawNotice the usage of the term skill. Arizona makes no allowances for skill games, rendering the argument as to whether winning real cash during betting on poker play requires more skill or luck irrelevant.

A player who knowingly obtains any benefit from gambling is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. Illicit online gambling and land-based betting operators face more severe charges. Anyone who conducts, organizes, manages, directs, supervises or finances real cash poker gambling or betting of any other kind in Arizona is guilty of a class 5 felony.

The law makes exceptions for regulated, legal gambling, amusement gambling and most notably social gambling, such as playing real money poker with friends. Social gambling is defined as:

Gambling that is not conducted as a business and that involves players who compete on equal terms with each other in a gamble. This includes real money poker games like Texas Hold’em. If no player receives, or becomes entitled to receive, any benefit, directly or indirectly, other than the player’s winnings from the gambling, then the act constitutes social gambling, in so long as the player in AZ is at least 21 years of age and no player enjoys an advantage over any other player in the gamble under the conditions of rules of the game or contest. Section 13-3301(7).

In other words, Arizonans are free to hold home poker games, in so long as a house fee or rake isn’t being charged on the real cash poker gambling.

In regards to Internet gambling and poker betting websites specifically, the law states that Indian tribes and state committees are banned from opening or conducting Internet betting operations. That being said, the law does not explicitly prohibit real cash poker players in AZ from playing at poker websites online in 2018, although the definition of gambling could easily be interpreted to imply that lawful Internet poker can’t exist.

There are no accounts of Texas Hold’em real money players in Arizona being charged for playing and betting on poker websites online. To read the AZ state’s full code [3], please refer to the “References” section. Tip: search for the term gambling.

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The Facts

The History Of Gambling In Arizona



Arizona became a state and one of their first laws was to ban all forms of gambling where the house makes a profit, which is an incredible law in comparison to the present day. This law did not apply to any form of social gambling (e.g. home games).



Legislature approves a State lottery, proving to be one of the most popular gambling forms for people throughout the state of Arizona.



Indian gaming was introduced to the state after pushing through the “Cabazon Court Case”



A number of tribes in Arizona installed slots on their land, which caused a backlash with the governor of the state and ultimately led to legal challenges. The tribes were under the impression that regulation of other gambling formats implied that permission for slots to be installed was granted. These legal complications would last for 10 years.



After years of tension, ‘compacts’ were signed by the tribes and agreements were met with the state.



Following these agreements, sixteen tribes had signed compacts. This ultimately led to more casinos in operation, approximately 10 by the end of 1994. These compacts last for 10 years and then terms would have to be re-negotiated.



The Governor starts negotiation for the renewal of the tribal-state compacts.



Compacts were renewed and 5 more tribes were added. This brought the total to approximately 21 and potential for more casinos to be built.



The Tribal-State Gaming compacts were about to be renewed for an additional 10 years for the tribes that signed them.



Two new casinos were opened in 2013 after construction had finally been completed. In May, the Navajo Nation opened its first Arizona Casino which was called Twin Arrows. Also, in July the grand opening of the Vee Quiva Casino was launched.

historyArizona was the last of the lower 48 states to be accepted into the Union. Given the general anti-gambling sentiment of the early 1900s, Arizona was required to take a firm stance against real cash poker rooms and casinos in order for government to accept its application for statehood. Arizona’s officials obliged, and Arizona became a state in 1912.

Before that time, betting on what can’t strictly be called legit poker games and other gambling games was prevalent throughout AZ. And just like prohibition did little to quell the spread of alcohol, even when it was deemed not to be legal poker gambling remained a staple of Arizona’s underground scene for years to come.

In 1950, voters chose not to legalize casinos or real money poker. However, that decade horse and dog races as well as some forms of charitable betting were approved.

By the 1980s, charitable gambling houses were making use of slot machines but still not offering legit real cash poker to Arizona residents.

In fact, the manufacturers were also selling said slot machines to organizations located through Nevada. Social gambling received an exemption from the law in the late 80s. Bars and other public institutions quickly took advantage of the state’s leniency, eventually leading law enforcement agencies to crackdown on what people thought were lawful poker games.

In 1991, a statewide lottery was implemented in Arizona, followed by the launch of an influx of tribal casinos and real cash poker betting rooms. However, because the proper compacts were not in place, AZ State’s tribes were forced to fight a long and drawn out battle with Arizona’s state officials before receiving sovereignty over the casino industry. The first compacts were signed in 1992, and many more were forged in the years that followed. Voters chose to renew existing tribal compacts in 2002, and to date nearly all of the state’s 22 tribes enjoy the freedom to operate casinos and legal poker games.

Regulated Gambling Options In Arizona

There is no shortage of regulated gambling and betting options in Arizona in 2018. Charitable gambling is permissible in all forms, poker included. Pari-mutuel wagering and various forms of the lottery are also legal; the latter including popular multi-jurisdiction formats such as Mega Millions and Powerball.

The state’s Indian tribes operate 22 casinos, the largest of which are operated by the Gila River Indian Community [4]. Most tribal casinos operate full-scale poker rooms that let Arizona residents enjoy legit real money poker at their convenience.

The Future Of Regulated Online Gambling In Arizona

fun factsThere’s a multitude of opposing factors at play when it comes to regulating Internet poker gambling in Arizona this year or in the future. The state’s politicians are generally conservative by nature, and have yet to seriously broach the issue of legal real cash poker betting websites. Compounding matters further, Arizona’s many tribes seem content to stay away from online Internet poker, fearing that its presence will have a negative impact on their brick and mortar poker gambling casino revenues. And let’s not forget that former Senator Jon Kyl was a major proponent of the UIGEA and that currently, Arizona does not permit fantasy sports wagering.

Oh, and Arizona is one of the only states to feature anti-iGaming clauses against lawful real money Internet poker and casino gambling in its statues.

Yet, there are also firm indicators that Arizona could be entering the legit betting websites mix sooner rather than later. Let’s not forget that two of its closest neighbors are California and Nevada; states that have either already legalized online poker websites or are close to doing so. And then there’s the fact that Mr. Kyl worked with Sen. Harry Reid on a Federal Internet poker bill [5]. That particular iteration of the lawful real cash Internet poker bill failed, but since working with Kyl, Reid’s battle has continued to gain momentum and it started off 2015 in a strong position. Thus, it seems unlikely that Arizona would opt out of a Federal act involving legal poker websites, should one be passed in 2018 or later years.

Fun Fact

2012 WSOP Main Event 3rd place finisher Jake Balsiger hails from Tempe, Arizona [6]. At the time of his real cash poker score, the fearsome 21-year-old was still attending Arizona State University. Pocketing nearly $3.8 for his astonishing run, Jake would recently prove that his high poker betting finish was no fluke by placing third in the 2014 Aussie Millions AUD$10,600 No-Limit Texas Hold’em event. His finish down under was good for over $582k in real money poker winnings.

The Bottom Line

arizonaArizona’s future, at least with regards to regulated online poker websites and Internet Texas Hold’em games, is marked by uncertainty. In order to host gambling operations, state officials would first have to amend the state’s current Internet gambling laws. It’s exceedingly unlikely that this will happen in AZ before an interstate compact relating to legit real cash poker websites with Nevada and California is in place.

If we had to categorize Arizona’s chance of entering the Internet poker betting market, we’d placed them somewhere between unlikely and wait and see.

There are certainly states far less likely to make legal Internet poker for real money happen in 2018. But while Arizona’s population of 6.55 million could support a thriving Internet poker gambling industry, it just doesn’t feel like Arizona will be compelled to do anything about it before others take the lead on lawful real cash poker websites.


[1] Lawmaker: Make playing fantasy sports legal under state law

[2] Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006

[3] Arizona State Legislature

[4] Gila River Gaming Enterprises

[5] Reid, Kyl join forces on Internet gambling, pen letter to AG

[6] Jacob Balsiger

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