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Massage Today
August, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 08

Arizona Cities Hit With Additional Massage Regulations

By Editorial Staff

Less than one month after Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, signed SB 1103 - a bill that would regulate the practice of massage therapy ( - into law, Scottsdale and Phoenix have adopted their own massage regulations.

On June 3, the Scottsdale City Council voted unanimously to tighten the reigns on the massage therapy profession in an effort to close illegitimate massage sites and bring an end to prostitution masquerading as massage.3,4

Shortly following the Scottsdale decision, which took effect July 3, the city of Phoenix followed suit, voting on June 25 to implement new rules governing the profession for the same reason.

The Phoenix ordinance is scheduled to take effect July 25.

The regulations will likely affect many massage therapists legitimately practicing in both areas.

The Scottsdale City Council adopted the new regulations in response to citizen complaints about the proliferation of illicit activity and illegitimate massage parlors, specifically in the city's southern region. Likewise, authorities in Phoenix contend that prostitution posing as massage continues to be problematic.2

According to Phoenix police Lieutenant Larry Jacobs, officers frequently uncover prostitution activity in massage parlors during sting operations. "If we hit five places, four of them have violations," he said.

Although the passage of SB 1103 would have naturally addressed these issues, that law will not go into effect until July 1, 2004. According to Scottsdale City Manager, Jan Dolan, that is too long to wait. "We think it's important to have these controls in place now," she said. "We don't think it's prudent to wait a year."5

According to the Scottsdale police department, about 15 percent to 20 percent of establishments that bill themselves as massage parlors are illegitimate.

Among other stipulations, the Scottsdale regulations will require that massage therapists complete a minimum of 500 educational hours or demonstrate equivalent training and experience; take a national certification examination; submit to annual fingerprinting and background checks; refrain from practicing between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.; and carry or wear their licensee identification cards while engaged in or available for massage. Additionally, license fees are expected to increase.1

Licensed massage therapists currently practicing in Scottsdale will be "grandfathered" in under some of the new regulations, which would include exemption from taking the national exam.

The new Phoenix regulations will concentrate more on massage businesses and require that massage business managers have their own permits in addition to the business owners. Phoenix massage establishments will be prohibited from having more than one license and will also be required to submit floor plans showing which rooms are designated for massage.6,7

What remains unclear is how the new Scottsdale and Phoenix regulations will be affected once SB 1103 goes into effect next year. Look for continuing updates in future issues of Massage Today.


  1. Official Web site for Scottsdale, Arizona.
  2. Go K. Massage therapists worried about new rules. The Arizona Republic. May13,2003.
  3. Go K. New massage rules criticized. The Arizona Republic. June 3, 2003.
  4. Wright L. Scottsdale tightens massage rules. The Arizona Republic. June 4, 2003.
  5. Wright L. Scottsdale puts massage parlors on shorter leash. The Arizona Republic. June 5, 2003.
  6. Warchut K. Phoenix to vote on massage-parlor rules. The Arizona Republic. June 25, 2003.
  7. Warchut K. Phoenix OKs new massage parlor rules. The Arizona Republic. June 26, 2003.


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