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A major expansion of gambling is coming to Arizona, following approval by the Legislature this week and a signature from Gov. Doug Ducey Thursday. Negotiations had been going on for a while with the big players involved, mainly Native American tribes and professional sports owners. Everyone seems happy, including many residents, who are expected to spend billions more per year.

Even the horse and auto race tracks are involved. This follows years of complaints about how the horse tracks had been hurt by casino gambling in Arizona. A major part of the deal involves betting on sports games.

There will be new casinos, and also an increase soon by about 50% in the total number of slot machines. And more will be coming in the future, along with table games and all the sports betting. The Tohono O’odham Nation will get a second casino in the Valley, and the Gila River Indian Community will get a fourth one, near Casa Grande.

All of this will provide more entertainment for Arizonans and some from out of state. Fewer of them likely will be going to Las Vegas and other out-of-state entertainment spots. The state also will get substantial new revenues.

Experts are saying the total in sports book betting alone will be more than $3 billion a year.

As we’ve said before, Arizona’s Indian tribes have used their gaming benefits to improve conditions for their people. The on-reservation nature of casinos has had the effect of keeping the action somewhat limited. That is changing somewhat in the new law, however.

Now the state will get more revenue, which can be put to good use. Unfortunately, some of that will need to be used to address the social cost of gambling. Most people who indulge do so as a harmless means of entertainment. For some, though, the losses mean they or their children do without things. Sometimes it leads to crime.

For good or bad, Arizona is going to be a bigger player in the world of gambling. It will provide plenty of fun, but also some pain.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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