Arizona’s legal sports betting market is booming. Retail sportsbooks and mobile betting sites are going live all over the state. Now another competitor is joining the game.
The Arizona Coyotes and Meruelo Gaming LLC, which both share the same owner Alex Meruelo, have partnered up to launch a digital sports gaming platform called SaharaBets. The app went live Jan. 12.
Now, all four of Arizona’s major sports teams feature affiliated online sportsbooks accepting legal wagers in the Grand Canyon State. But will the Coyotes be able to find their footing as they skate into the action nearly three months after the launch of legal sports wagering in the Grand Canyon State?
Would the Coyotes have a retail sportsbook? And where would it even go?
Coyotes find their place in AZ sports betting landscape
The SaharaBets sportsbook launch comes ahead of some enormous sporting events Arizonans are eager to bet on, like the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl and the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“The Coyotes are dedicated to providing innovative and entertaining experiences for our great fans,” Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said in a press release. “Our partnership with SaharaBets will offer next-level gaming experiences for fans who want to unleash their competitive spirit.”
Fans will need to download the SaharaBets app, which president Andrew Patterson said the platform will feature Arizona Coyotes betting offerings that he believes will stand apart from other Arizona online sportsbooks in the market.
“SaharaBets brings the excitement and reputation of the iconic SAHARA Las Vegas to sports fans here in Arizona,” said Patterson. “As the sports betting landscape continues to evolve in the Valley, SaharaBets looks forward to collaborating with the Coyotes organization to engage and interact with sports fans in fun and unique ways.”
Alex Meruelo is the majority owner of the Coyotes. His company Meruelo Gaming is an affiliate of the two Nevada casinos he owns: Sahara Las Vegas and Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.
Crowded Arizona sports betting market gains another contender
The Coyotes are the latest of the eight Arizona sports teams that received a sports betting license from the Arizona Department of Gaming to announce a partnership with an operator.
The Arizona Cardinals (BetMGM), Phoenix Suns (FanDuel) and Arizona Diamondbacks (Caesars) already feature betting apps. Even the Arizona Rattlers (BetRivers Sportsbook Arizona) have entered the market.
To go along with that, the PGA Tour and TPC Scottsdale (DraftKings) and Phoenix International Raceway (Barstool) have also launched mobile operations. The Phoenix Mercury (Bally Bet) is the only other Arizona sports franchise to receive a betting license that has yet to launch operations.
Five of the eight sports teams/venues have opened or plan to open retail sportsbooks. FanDuel debuted at the Phoenix Suns’ Footprint Center. Meanwhile, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a temporary location for Caesars just outside Chase Field. The official site should be ready for its grand opening later this year.
The PGA Tour plans to open a DraftKings retail sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale, home to the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The Arizona Cardinals and BetMGM will open a retail sportsbook at State Farm Stadium in time for the 2022 NFL season.
But what about the Coyotes?
Still tons of questions regarding Coyotes’ future in Arizona
As of now, there is no set plan for the Coyotes to start up a retail sportsbook. That makes sense with the team set to leave Gila River Arena at the end of the 2021-2022 NHL season. However, most of the other professional franchises in the state are working on their own retail sportsbooks. So it would also make sense that the Coyotes would want to follow suit.
A physical sportsbook could be part of the new arena proposal the Coyotes presented to the city of Tempe. The team is proposing a $1.7 billion development with a hockey arena, hotels, apartments and shops.
Opening a retail sportsbook is another way to boost fan engagement and generate sports betting revenue. The Coyotes could use a boost when it comes to attracting fans. The ‘Yotes rank 30th out of 32 teams in fan attendance.
Whether or not the team stays in Arizona is also in question. Rumors have been swirling for a while regarding the potential relocation of the team. However, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the Coyotes are not a threat to relocate from Arizona. It remains to be seen what would happen to the team’s sports betting license if they moved.
For now, sports bettors can look forward to yet another mobile betting option: SaharaBets.