WASHINGTON – Border officials said they were “devastated” this week to find that the federal government has extended a COVID-19 ban on nonessential border crossings for another month, potentially crippling businesses there.
“The ban is a terrible and now-exaggerated response to the pandemic,” said Andy Carey, executive director of the U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Project. “It’s reinstated every month for another month, and it’s been going on for nearly a year-and-a-half now, it’s time for the ban to end.”
The ban was first imposed in March 2020 on nonessential travel – essentially tourists or family visitors – between the U.S., Mexico and Canada in response to the first wave of COVID-19. It was regularly extended but was set to expire Monday.
Customs and Border Protection said that the situation has improved in both Canada and Mexico, as vaccinations have risen and infections have dropped. But it announced Wednesday that things were still too uncertain, particularly given the rise of new variants, to lift the restriction, which was extended to 11:59 p.m. July 21.
CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. But border community leaders, who had been looking for the ban to end this week, were not happy.
Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said his city has lost billions of dollars in business from the ban that “should have been lifted months ago.”
“You know it’s going to hurt when 65% of our sales tax comes from residents in Sonora coming here and shopping,” Garino said. “That money keeps us afloat.”
Officials in Yuma and in San Ysidro, California, echoed his comments, saying border communities are suffering from a travel ban that has “outlived its purpose.”
“I represent about 800 businesses, and we would do $895 million in retail sales during a normal year,” said Jason Wells, executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. “We are estimating from March 2020 to March 2021 that the number is about $250 million. That’s about a 72% loss.”
PHOENIX – Sports is a billion-dollar industry, with revenue streams ranging from television rights to ticket sales. Add cryptocurrency and NFTs to the mix, and this latest gold rush has leagues, teams and players taking advantage of opportunities in an unlikely territory.
Former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taijaun Walker, now with the New York Mets, was the first known and active Major League Baseball player to create and sell a piece of digital art through a non-fungible token, otherwise known as an NFT, the New York Times reported. The piece of art sold for 2.35 Ether, a form of cryptocurrency, or roughly $4,275. Proceeds from the auction benefited the team’s charity, the Amazin’ Mets Foundation.
Walker’s NFT announcement opened eyes and raised eyebrows about this new way athletes could generate income.
“(It is) a piece of digital asset, which can be video, file, photo, really anything that you like, to be managed by smart contracts,” said Dragan Boscovic, director of ASU’s Blockchain Research Lab.
Simply, think of it as something intangible – something you can’t hold in your hand – such as Walker’s digital art, or a unique video or Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, which fetched a cool 1,630.58 Ether, the equivalent to about $2.9 million.
Boscovic added that with a smart contract “you can basically control certain properties of that digital asset.” If it’s a photo, for example, you can control who has access to it and how many copies of it can be made.
PHOENIX – The ability to attend a sporting event, place a bet on a team and possibly return home a winner will soon be a reality in Arizona.
So, too, could an uptick in gambling addiction, some worry.
Excitement surrounded Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision to sign a bill on April 15 that allows a significant expansion of gambling, including sports betting under licenses issued to tribes and professional sports teams. Gambling on fantasy sports and Keno games at horse race tracks will also be permitted.
But will accessibility increase detrimental behavior?
“Each state needs to take some responsibility and understand that a lot of people don’t gamble socially or don’t gamble like a normal person,” said a recovering gambling addict from Arizona who chose to remain anonymous.
Nearly 2.6% of the U.S. population, almost 10 million people, have an addiction problem because of gambling, according to the North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help. In WalletHub’s recent survey of “most gambling-addicted states,” Arizona ranked 41st, a number possibly impacted by the state’s newness to expanded gambling opportunities.
“I know it’s a revenue-making … function for the state but if they’re going to have places where you physically go and gamble like sportsbooks, they need to put right on the front door and visible that if you have a gambling problem, you need to call 1-800,” the recovering addict said, “because this is just going to open up a whole new can of worms for people, especially in today’s world with so many different stressors, so many different pressures on people whether economic, social, marriages, everything.”
PHOENIX – After years of resistance from tribes around the state, Gov. Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2772 on Thursday, legalizing daily sports fantasy and sports betting in Arizona. The development comes on the heels of ratification of a revised Tribal-State Gaming Compact.
“Today’s signing is the culmination of years of discussion and engagement among many diverse stakeholders, tribal communities, both rural and urban, gaming industry partners and more,” Ducey said at a news conference to finalize the legislation.
“We did it by bringing everyone to the table, pushing individual agendas aside and putting Arizona first. The legislation associated with this compact amendment is a historic bipartisan achievement.”
Senate Bill 1797, a mirror bill to HB 2772, was ratified by a bipartisan majority earlier this week by the state Senate. These amendments to the existing compact grant specific organizations and groups sports betting permits to create sportsbooks in their particular venue. Ten licenses will be granted to sports organizations to open these books in or near their sporting facilities. An additional 10 licenses will be given to tribal nations to open sportsbooks at their respective casinos.
PHOENIX – The Arizona Senate passed legislation Monday night that paves the way for legalized sports betting in the state, possibly as soon as summer.
Senate Bill 1797 and House Bill 2772 were passed with bipartisan support on the new gaming compact, which includes the legalization of daily fantasy sports, and now head to Gov. Doug Ducey to be signed into law. The bill includes an emergency clause, which would enact the changes immediately if Ducey signs the bill.
“We could possibly begin gambling and wagering on sporting events as the Cardinals kick their season off this fall,” said Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge. “That has been our aspirational goal from the beginning. It is my hope that we’ll go ahead and achieve that.”
Included in the agreement, 10 licenses would be granted by the state to sports organizations. They would have the ability to create their own sportsbooks within their respective venues. Golf courses, race tracks and other sports arenas would have the ability to apply and use one of these licenses.
Another 10 licenses would be provided to Native American tribes throughout the state to create a sportsbook at their respective casinos.
Co-sponsors of this bill – Shope and Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler – have been working directly with the Governor’s Office for a number of years to get sports betting legalized.