Arizona Sports Betting And Lottery Thrive Side By Side

Written By Adam Hensley on October 11, 2022
Lottery gambling in Arizona continue strong even with sports betting boom

Despite an uptick in sports betting, the Arizona Lottery is alive and well.

The Arizona sports betting industry is relatively new – legalized in 2021, to be exact. So, long-term effects have yet to rear their head. But as of now, it’s business as usual for the Arizona Lottery.

In fact, business is better than before. Arizona Lottery public information officer John Gilliland told the Tucson Weekly:

“I can’t say that it has changed the lottery in terms of the money we’ve seen coming in because sales have steadily increased despite the appearance of sports betting. It’s a different kind of person that gets into sports betting, which is all about small bets placed frequently with some skill and some knowledge that can give you an advantage.

Whereas the lottery is entirely random and played for fun by everyone. You know, there’s a much lower skill requirement to playing the lottery than to sports betting.”

The most recent lottery in September surpassed $1 billion. September marked just the third time in the last two decades Arizona’s lottery crossed that line.

Arizona sports betting could grow to $7 billion next year

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2772, dubbed the “gambling expansion bill.” It legalized sports wagering, including daily fantasy sports contests, keno games, and a statewide mobile lottery draw game.

The process to become the 23rd state to legalize sports betting wasn’t a quick process, though. The state wanted to move things along quickly but needed the support of tribal casinos. Arizona’s professional sports teams chipped in as well.

But in just more than a year, sports betting hit it off with Arizona bettors. Gamblers in the state wagered more than $5 billion in the first year, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming. Arizona boasts 25 sportsbooks throughout the state.

“I can attest to Arizona being a big sports betting state,” The Premium Consulting Group Inc. CEO Cory Lindover told the Phoenix News Times. “Arizona is already leading the pack among a lot of states, and it’s positioned to make a really good run in the future.”

How good of a run?

Victor Matheson, a College of the Holy Cross professor of sports economics in Massachusetts, told the Phoenix News Times he forecasts Arizona’s sports betting industry to grow to $7 billion next year.

A look at Arizona Lottery sales numbers

Arizona’s lottery set a sales record of $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2021. The fiscal year 2022 included the time frame of Arizona legalizing sports betting. Still, the state inched close to its record set just one year prior: $1.37 billion.

According to the Tucson Weekly, 178 million lottery tickets for Mega Millions and Powerball made up FY22’s lottery sales. In-state games like The Pick and Fantasy 5 generated 85.6 million tickets. Gilliland continued:

“We’re just grateful to everybody that steps up and buys a ticket because they’re helping us to do a lot of good in the state – whether or not they win that big jackpot.

Whenever someone in Arizona claims a really big prize, that’s money that’s being brought into their community, those are taxes that are being paid to the state and the federal government. That’s money that’s coming into local businesses and charities in their communities. All kinds of good things come from a big win in the Arizona Lottery.”

Arizona Lottery should consider online options

Right now, in Arizona, you cannot buy a lottery ticket online. You must walk into a brick-and-mortar retail store to purchase one.

It’s a bit different than placing a sports wager, which any Arizona resident of legal age can do from their phone. Accessibility is one of the sports betting industry’s selling points, but there’s a chance the Arizona Lottery looks to change in the future.

“We’ve only recently been authorized legislatively to develop a mobile game, but we’re still sorting out how we want to do that,” Gilliland said.

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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, who currently works for the USA Today Network. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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