Arizona Enjoys Quarterly, Annual Boost From Tribal Gaming

Written By Martin Harris on June 24, 2021

Arizona casinos are back in action. So, too, are tribal gaming contributions to the state and its cities, towns, and counties.

Last week the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) reported total gaming contributions from the state’s tribal casinos for the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 were almost $33.8 million. That’s a 32% increase over the fourth quarter of FY2020, and almost twice the total from the previous quarter.

‘Strong rebound’ for tribal casinos and their beneficiaries, says ADG director

Last year at this time, the ADG was reporting $25.5 million in tribal gaming contributions for Q4 of FY2020.

Numbers for FY 2021 have alternated between decreases and increases with each report. In September 2020, the ADG reported $13.9 million in contributions for Q1. Then in December those figures went up to $31.7 million for Q2. In March of this year contributions fell again to $17.6 million for Q3 before jumping back up to end FY2021.

Ted Vogt, Director of the ADG, said it was “exciting” to see the year-over-year increase.

“Not only is it clear that Arizona Tribal Gaming has had a strong rebound, each of these additional gaming dollars will help support vital programs throughout the state like schools, trauma centers, wildlife conservation and more,” said Vogt.

According to the compacts, tribes contribute 12% of their Net Win to nearby cities, towns, and counties. The other 88% goes to the ADG. In particular, that money goes to the Arizona Benefits Fund which in turn subsidizes multiple state-wide funds.

For the Q4 contributions from FY2021, about $17 million or just over half of the overall total will go to the Instructional Improvement Fund designed to bolster Arizona schools. Another $8.5 million has been earmarked for Trauma and Emergency Services Fund.

Additionally, the Arizona Wildlife Conservation Fund and the Arizona Tourism Fund will also each receive just over $2.43 million.

Meanwhile about $2.74 million will go to cover ADG costs, with another $675K directed toward problem gambling education, treatment, and prevention.

Funding for state and cities ensured by tribal-state compacts

As dictated by the tribal-state gaming compacts, tribes operating the state’s 24 casinos must contribute 1 to 8 percent of their gaming revenue to the state, as well as to cities, towns, and counties.

Technically, the tribes contribute a percentage of their Class III Net Win. The Net Win represents the difference between the casino’s wins and losses before deducting operating costs.

A sliding scale determines the amount of contributions. Just 1% is contributed from a casino’s first $25 million in Class III Net Win. The percentage increases thereafter from 3% (for the next $50M) to 6% (for the next $25M) to 8% (for everything over $100M).

The tribes and Arizona amended their compacts earlier this year to authorize expanded gaming options, including sports betting and additional table games. In May the amended compacts received federal approval, thereby going into effect.

Currently the ADG’s timeline targets the start of the NFL season in September for sports betting to go live.

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