Shope defends gaming law he helped pass

The legislation, signed by the governor on Thursday, allows the sports franchises that are being given the licenses to take bets on professional and college games to give away free samples.

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services  

Gov. Doug Ducey and the two lawmakers who ushered through a new state gaming law are defending a provision that has the state effectively financing free games to entice people to gamble.

The legislation, signed by the governor on Thursday, allows the sports franchises that are being given the licenses to take bets on professional and college games to give away free samples. They or the outside firms they hire to run their gaming operations can provide free bets or promotional credits.

But the law also says that these operations can reduce what they report in adjusted gross receipts — the amount used to compute what they owe the state — by up to 20% for each of the next two years to compensate them for those free bets.

That drops to 15% on the third year of gaming and 10% in years four and five. Only after that are write-offs not allowed.

The provision was even though the legislation acknowledges that gambling can be addictive for some. The new law even has a whole section of what gaming operations have to do, from providing the phone number and web site information for where people can get help to actually allowing self-identified “problem gamblers” to voluntarily exclude themselves from the new type of wagering on professional, college and fantasy sports that the new law will allow.

But Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler, who was the sponsor of the House version of the legislation, rejected any suggestion that providing this kind of free “taste” of gambling can feed into someone’s potential addiction problems.

“It’s customer acquisition that helps introduce them to the product,” he told Capitol Media Services.

“There’s a cost to going out there and acquiring customers,” Weninger continued. “And this is one of the essentially marketing tools that’s used.”

And what of problem gamblers?

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