Legal sports betting is on its way to Arizona.
Just a few months after the Senate passed a bill to regulate wagering in the Grand Canyon State, followed swiftly by Gov. Doug Ducey signing the bill and updated compacts with tribes in the state, the Arizona Department of Gaming opened the window for sports betting applications on July 26.
And they anticipate launching the first Arizona mobile betting apps (and potentially retail sportsbooks) by Sept. 9 — opening day of the 2021 NFL season.
Arizona sports betting launch updates
9:15 a.m. — TwinSpires Sportsbook goes live in Arizona
A week after the Arizona sports betting industry went live, the state now has its eight online sportsbook.
Owned by Churchill Downs Inc., TwinSpires Arizona launched, courtesy of a partnership with the Tonto Apache Tribe.
With additional plans to open a retail sportsbook at the tribe’s Mazatzal Hotel & Casino, TwinSpires joins an ever-growing list of mobile betting operators in Arizona:
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- Barstool Sportsbook
- Unibet Sportsbook
8 a.m. — Yavapai-Prescott amends complaint against Arizona sports betting
Mere days after a judge ruled against the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe in its quest to derail legal sports betting in Arizona, the tribe filed a notice of lodging and an amended complaint.
The tribe attempted to block the launch of regulated wagering in the Grand Canyon State, but a judge ruled against the Yavapai-Prescott. Now, the tribe is back at it again.
As the Yavapai-Prescott did in its first lawsuit, the tribe named both Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt as defendants. While the tribe does provide additional detail into the process it went through regarding the new compacts signed by Ducey earlier this year, the plaintiff still faces an uphill battle.
Our own John Holden broke down the amended complaint and what could happen next.
9 a.m. — Arizona sports betting starts red-hot
The first few days of legal sports betting in Arizona was a time to remember, for sure.
According to GeoComply, a company that provides geolocation services to sportsbooks, the Grand Canyon State featured 6.1 million bets or log-ins between Sept. 9 and the first Sunday of NFL action. Among jurisdictions with regulated wagering, only New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan reported higher totals.
Of all legal betting transactions across the country, Arizona accounted for 10%, with users creating 271,000 new accounts over the first four days.
1:45 p.m. — Unibet joins crowd of Arizona sports betting apps
Unibet also went live with its mobile betting app on launch day, doing so just hours before opening kickoff of the first NFL game of the season.
Partnered with the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, Unibet made Arizona its sixth state in which it legally offers sports wagering. With its betting app live, Unibet Arizona expects to open a retail sportsbook “shortly,” according to a press release. That operation will set up inside the tribe’s Paradise Casino.
With Unibet now in the fold, Arizona features seven betting apps on the first day of regulated wagering:
- Barstool Sports
8:30 a.m. — Caesars, FanDuel open retail sportsbooks in downtown Phoenix
With front office members of the Arizona Diamondbacks on hand, alongside Gov. Doug Ducey and Caesars representatives that included comedian JB Smoove and former ESPN anchor Trey Wingo, Caesars Arizona debuted a retail sports betting space at Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks.
Not to be outdone, FanDuel Sportsbook also introduced its brick-and-mortar area at nearby Footprint Center. While Caesars’ operation remains temporary until it finishes up the permanent spot in Game Seven Grill, FanDuel opened its permanent location at the Suns’ arena.
8 a.m. — Sports betting launches in Arizona
When Sept. 8 closed, Sept. 9 naturally arrived. And with that turn of the daily calendar page, so, too, came the official launch of legalized sports betting in Arizona.
Hours before the NFL season opener, six mobile betting apps made their debuts in the Grand Canyon State, offering a variety of bonuses for Arizona bettors:
- FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona
- DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona
- Caesars Sportsbook Arizona
- BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona
- WynnBET Arizona
- Barstool Sportsbook
This is certainly just the beginning for regulated wagering in Arizona. Another 12 entities have obtained event wagering licenses, including three professional sports teams and venues as well as nine tribes.
Over the next few weeks and months, the Arizona sports betting market will continue to expand.
8:30 a.m. — Not all tribes supported Yavapai-Prescott lawsuit
Before the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe made its arguments on Labor Day, a motion to intervene emerged. From two other Arizona tribes.
The Tonto Apache Tribe of Arizona and the Quechan Tribe of the Ft. Yuma Indian Reservation filed a notice of intent to intervene in opposition of the Yavapai-Prescott’s attempt to stand in the way of legalized sports betting in the Grand Canyon State.
Obviously the Yavapai-Prescott’s lawsuit failed in Maricopa County Superior Court, though the tribe could go the appellate route if it intented to continue its fight.
As for the motion to intervene, the two tribes argued that 18 of the state’s 22 federally recognized tribes negotiated with the state for over five years to amend their gaming compacts, the result of which opened the door for legalized sports betting in Arizona.
It should be noted that both the Tonto Apache and the Quechan tribes each secured event wagering licenses that allows them to offer regulated wagering. As such, the Yavapai-Prescott’s lawsuit perked up the other tribes’ ears.
Full details of the motion to intervene, as well as which routes the Yavapai-Prescott could take now, can be found here.
6 p.m. — Judge denies temporary restraining order request from Yavapai-Prescott
As Monday came to a close, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith registered a ruling in the case brought forth by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe. In short, Smith denied the tribe’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the launch of Arizona sports betting.
“The Tribe argued that the hardship is losing the ‘exclusive right to gaming on Indian lands’ under Proposition 202,” Smith ruled. “But Proposition 202 did not purport to freeze in perpetuity the scope of lawful gambling in Arizona.”
Smith also emphasized that his decision “is not a final, appealable judgment. But Parties may appeal orders granting or dissolving an injunction or refusing to grant or dissolve an injunction.”
While the Yavapai-Prescott could appeal, the path appears clear for Arizona sports betting to move forward with its scheduled Sept. 9 launch of legal sports betting.
10:15 a.m. — Wait is on for future of legal sports betting in Arizona
Judge James Smith has heard the arguments from both sides. He has read testimony, declarations, depositions and any other evidence provided by plaintiffs and defendants over the weekend.
Now, the waiting game is on for Smith’s ruling.
The Maricopa County Superior Court was the site of an emergency hearing for a lawsuit filed by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, which has called into question the constitutionality surrounding the passage of legislation legalizing sports betting in Arizona.
For an hour, attorneys for the tribe, Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt made their arguments via a virtual hearing. After it was all said and done, Smith adjourned. He expects to file a decision by day’s end.
If he rules in favor of the Yavapai-Prescott, which seeks a temporary restraining order preventing the Sept. 9 launch of legal betting, the future of regulated wagering in Arizona faces quite an uphill battle.
3 p.m. — Emergency hearing begins for Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe
An emergency hearing was held today regarding the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe lawsuit that could halt legalized sports betting in Arizona.
While no decision was made, that doesn’t mean the Sept. 9 launch date is out of the woods. Lawyers for all parties will be working through the weekend to prepare their cases.
A preliminary injunction hearing has been set for 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 6. The virtual hearing is scheduled to only last one hour. Plaintiffs and defendants will have 30 minutes each to make their arguments, have their witnesses testify and cross-examination. All witnesses planning to testify must be available.
The complaint filed by the Yavapai-Prescott claims that the passage of HB 2772, which legalized sports betting in the state, takes away the gaming exclusivity enjoyed by tribes throughout Arizona. The tribe is pushing an injunction and declaration that the bill is unconstitutional. It also seeks a temporary restraining order to stop the launch of sports betting.
Judge James Smith noted that the deadline of the sports betting launch looms over the case. He added that he hopes to render a quick decision. Smith expects to let all parties know his ruling Monday night, although it won’t be processed by the courts until Tuesday morning. He said this will give the losing side the opportunity to quickly get started on the necessary paperwork needed to file an appeal, something that is expected no matter this case’s outcome.
If the judge rules in favor of the Yavapai-Prescott, the launch of legal sports betting in Arizona could be in serious jeopardy. It is unclear if an appeals process would sort everything out in time for the start of the NFL season. The Arizona Department of Gaming does face another lawsuit ahead of the launch. The case instigated by TP Racing will have an emergency hearing Friday.
12:15 p.m. — Caesars gives sneak peek of retail sportsbook
Things are falling into place for the Caesars retail sportsbook at Chase Field.
The sports betting operator and partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks revealed digital renderings of its planned brick-and-mortar operation in downtown Phoenix. It will take the place of Game Seven Grill outside the stadium.
Among the details announced, the 20,000-square-foot sportsbook will boast indoor and outdoor dining areas, a full-service bar and wall-to-wall TVs. The two-story complex will also feature betting windows and self-service kiosks.
Open year-round, the retail sportsbook will not be accessible to fans inside Chase Field. However, while those individuals could visit the brick-and-mortar before and after games, they can also place wagers online via the Caesars Arizona betting app.
8 a.m. — Ak-Chin chooses Fubo Gaming for sports betting
The Ak-Chin Indian Community has selected Fubo Gaming to power its online and retail sports betting in Arizona.
Operator of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, the Ak-Chin received one of 10 licenses carved out for tribes in the state, allowing the tribe to launch an Arizona mobile betting app. It was not clear which brand the tribe would select, but early Monday, it became official that Fubo Gaming would set up shop in the Grand Canyon State.
This is the fifth market access agreement for Fubo Sportsbook, a subsidiary of the sports-first live TV streaming platform fuboTV. It also has avenues into Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
According to the press release, Fubo Sportsbook expects to offer “a differentiated and industry-first integration of streaming and sports wagering.” By integrating the sportsbook and fuboTV, the platform would feature “an interactive omniscreen entertainment ecosystem.”
8:30 a.m. — Another lawsuit challenges Arizona sports betting
The Arizona Department of Gaming faces a second legal challenge, the latest submitted by Phoenix-based racetrack Turf Paradise.
Naming the ADG and director Ted Vogt as defendants, Turf Paradise’s lawsuit argues that it should be qualified to receive a sports betting license in Arizona.
As reported by the Arizona Mirror, the horse-racing facility said in its filing that its application was denied by the ADG. The department cited that Turf Paradise did not meet the qualifications as a professional sports franchise.
As written, the state’s sports betting law limits non-tribal event wagering licenses to owners or deisgnees of professional sports franchises or facilities that host annual PGA tournaments or stock car racing events. However, Turf Paradise argues that the state does not further define “team” or “franchise.” In fact, on its website, the ADG calls Turf Paradise, which opened in 1956, as “one of Arizona’s first sports franchises.”
Turf Paradise has appealed the ADG’s decision to reject its application. Until that process is complete, the track is asking the court to prohibit the ADG from allocating licenses and launching legal sports betting in the state. A similar request came from the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, which filed a lawsuit against Vogt and Gov. Doug Ducey, arguing that lawmakers illegally passed legislation that opened the door for regulated sports betting in the state.
Both cases will go before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith, who scheduled emergency hearings for Sept. 3.
Stay here for all the latest updates and developments as regulated wagering sits at the doorstep of the Grand Canyon State.
4:20 p.m. — ADG releases full list of sports betting operators
As promised, the Arizona Department of Gaming released its full list of approved operators on Friday.
The group awarded eight out of ten possible licenses to the following groups and partners:
- Arizona Cardinals (BetMGM)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (William Hill)
- Phoenix Suns (FanDuel)
- Arizona Coyotes
- Phoenix Mercury (Ballys)
- TPC Scottsdale (DraftKings)
- Phoenix Speedway (Penn National)
- Arizona Rattlers (Rush Street Interactive)
The following tribal groups received the ten allotted tribal licenses:
- Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (SuperBook Sports)
- Navajo Nation
- Quechan Tribe (Unibet Arizona)
- Tonto Apache Tribe (Churchill Downs)
- Tohono O’odham Nation
- Hualapai Tribe (Golden Nugget)
- Ak-Chin Indian Community (Fubo)
- San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe (Digital Gaming)
- San Carlos Apache Tribe (Wynn)
- Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation (BetFred)
While these licensees are all approved by the ADG, it is not a given they will all be launching on Sept. 9.
3:00 p.m. — BetRivers partners up with the Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers
The top-tier sports leagues already have deals, but arena football is about to get in the sports betting game. The Arizona Rattlers partnered with BetRivers for a commercial online sportsbook license.
As part of the announcement, BetRivers and the team also noted that they received approval from the Arizona Department of Gaming to operate in the state.
What was not part of the press release was whether or not the tandem would be ready to launch next Thursday.
2:30 p.m. — WynnBet confirms it is coming to Arizona
We know some tribes will be on the outside looking in when sports betting launches in Arizona. One tribe that will be taking part is the San Carlos Apache Tribal Gaming Enterprise. Friday afternoon, WynnBet confirmed it will in the Arizona sportsbook marketplace via its partnership with the tribe.
In the announcement, Wynn confirmed it plans to have the app live in the state for the Sept. 9 launch date.
8:30 a.m. — Yavapai-Prescott files sports betting lawsuit
With legal sports betting in Arizona expecting to launch in less than two weeks, a lawsuit has emerged challenging the legality of the law that passed in April.
Attorneys for the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe filed a lawsuit this week, against both Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt, stating that lawmakers illegally passed legislation that authorized regulated wagering in Arizona.
According to the tribe’s attorneys, the law’s passage violated the state’s Voter Protection Act because it allows non-tribal gaming operators to offer gambling off tribal land. Per the lawsuit, the Indian Gaming Preservation and Self-Reliance Act aimed to allow tribes to operate limited forms of gambling in tribal-owned casinos. By expanding the state’s gaming laws, lawmakers violated the state’s ban on laws authorizing special benefits to specific parties.
What’s more, the tribe’s lawyers argue that passing the law as an emergency measure was unconstitutional.
11:30 a.m. — DraftKings, Penn National each licensed for sports betting
Two more sports betting operators have received licenses from the Arizona Department of Gaming.
Both DraftKings Sportsbook and Penn National, which owns Barstool Sports, confirmed that their applications to the state were approved.
As a result, both sportsbooks could begin accepting bets as soon as Sept. 9. DraftKings and Barstool each has an avenue to launch mobile and retail betting courtesy of partnerships with TPC Scottsdale and Phoenix Raceway, respectively.
8:30 a.m. — Casino Del Sol announces retail sportsbook
Guests at Casino Del Sol will see a new addition to the property.
The Tuscon casino announced it will build a retail sportsbook in the former Paradiso Lounge area of the property. SolSports, as it will be called, will feature more than 60 TVs and will sit more than 100 patrons.
In addition, the brick-and-mortar will offer a full bar, food servce, luxury seating and six betting windows.
Pending approval from the Arizona Department of Gaming, Casino Del Sol has targeted a September opening of the retail sportsbook.
7 a.m. — BetMGM receives license for AZ sports betting
Another sports betting operator has been licensed by the Arizona Department of Gaming.
Citing “many exciting things in store for sports fans in Arizona,” BetMGM announced that its application was approved by state regulators, allowing BetMGM Arizona to launch its mobile betting app Sept. 9.
Partnered with the Arizona Cardinals and Gila River Hotels & Casinos, BetMGM also intends to open retail sportsbooks at State Farm Stadium as well as at the three Gila River casinos in the state.
3 p.m. — FanDuel awarded sports betting license
When legal sports betting goes live in Arizona Sept. 9, FanDuel Sportsbook appears ready to be among the first to accept bets.
The operator received approval from the Arizona Department of Gaming, allowing it to potentially deploy the FanDuel Arizona sportsbook betting app on the first day of the NFL season.
FanDuel’s access to the Grand Canyon State comes courtesy of a partnership with the Phoenix Suns, which will also allow FanDuel to integrate a retail sportsbook at the NBA team’s Footprint Center. There, FanDuel intends to open a 7,400-square-foot brick-and-mortar operation complete with several betting windows, 26 self-service kiosks, 40 televisions and a 35-foot video wall.
9 a.m. — Fiesta Bowl/Caesars form first bowl game-sports betting partnership
Seen as the first-of-its-kind deal, Caesars Entertainment and the Fiesta Bowl Organization have teamed up to further expand Caesars’ reach in Arizona.
As part of the multi-year deal, Caesars will feature in-stadium fan lounges at both the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (at State Farm Stadium) and the Guaranteed Rate Bowl (at Chase Field). Additionally, Caesars will move into a title partner position of the Fiesta Bowl’s pregame parties.
This partnership “focuses on fan engagement,” according to a release, as well as “expanding sports gaming and education in Arizona.”
For Caesars, the Fiesta Bowl Organization deal deepens its roots in the Grand Canyon State. The Arizona Diamondbacks partnered with the company to bring in a Caesars Arizona sportsbook. This would allow not only for a mobile app in the state but also a retail sportsbook at Chase Field. The interesting tidbit regarding a Caesars fan lounge at State Farm Stadium is that the Arizona Cardinals, who play at the venue, have teamed with BetMGM to potentially set up a brick-and-mortar book at the stadium.
7:30 a.m. — Gila River making room for retail sports betting
It seems as if the Gila River Indian Community is confident as ever that it will receive a sports betting license in Arizona.
After all, the owner of three casinos in the state has already started work on setting up BetMGM retail sportsbooks. Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte and Vee Quiva casinos each expects to boast a brick-and-mortar operation.
Gila River is carving out 15,000 square feet on casinos floors to integrate BetMGM sportsbooks, each of which will offer a number of amenities. That includes at Wild Horse Pass, which will feature two separate sports betting spaces.
The Arizona Department of Gaming announced that it has received 16 applications for its available 10 tribal betting licenses. As such, the regulatory body will spend the next week determining which applicants are more suited for licensure. That evaluation period will end Aug. 26 — just two weeks before the state intends to launch the first legal betting options.
By law, the ADG cannot reveal which parties have applied or which have been deemed qualified. However, Gila River’s latest plans certainly imply that the casino operator expects to receive regulatory approval.
4 p.m. — ADG nearing end to qualification evaluation period
The Arizona Department of Gaming announced that it has received 16 applications from entities looking to capture one of 10 sports betting licenses allocated for tribes. Another 10 submissions came from applicants seeking licensure as a professional sports team or organization.
The department expects to complete its qualification evaluation by the end of the business day. At that time, the ADG will notify each qualified applicant.
That said, the ADG will not announce which operators receive the green light.
Please note that in accordance with A.R.S. § 5-1305(H), ADG will not be disclosing who qualified for licensure and will not announce which applicants are granted a license until the entirety of the application process is complete.
Simplified, until the department completes all of its due diligence (such as background checks, tech testing, etc.) and gives the official go-ahead for a sports betting operator to move forward, which platforms are deemed “initially qualified” will remain a mystery.
As the ADG received more applications than available tribal licenses, it will spend up to eight days determining which applications are most qualified for Arizona sports betting. According to the department, that evaluation period will end Aug. 26.
9 a.m. — MaximBet lands Arizona access deal
Familiar with Maxim magazine? Then you’ll recognize a sportsbook in Arizona if it receives approval to launch down the road.
MaximBet, obviously affiliated with the men’s lifestyle brand, announced a partnership with the White Mountain Apache Tribe, which operates the Hon-Dah Resort Casino.
If approved by the Arizona Department of Gaming, MaximBet Arizona could join the coming regulated wagering industry in the Grand Canyon State.
Arizona is part of MaximBet’s goal of expanding in several jurisdictions across the country, including in nearby Colorado.
7:30 a.m. — FanDuel gives sneak peek into retail sportsbook
Nearly four months after landing a partnership with the Phoenix Suns, FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona released renderings for its retail sportsbook at the Suns’ home arena, Footprint Center.
The brick-and-mortar will also feature five betting windows, 26 self-service betting kiosks, 40 HD televisions and a 35-foot video wall.
10 a.m. — Betfred partners with Arizona tribe
The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation has provided an avenue for Betfred Sports to potentially launched in Arizona.
The tribe’s We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort near Scottsdale partnered with the UK-based sportsbook. All that remains is for the Arizona Department of Gaming to decide which tribal casinos in the state are most deserving of sports betting licenses. Should the ADG deem We-Ko-Pa Casino as qualied, Betfred will have a clear path to an Arizona launch.
Betfred will aim to roll out a mobile betting app as well as open a retail sportsbook at the casino. If accomplished, Arizona will join Colorado and Nevada as states in the region featuring Betfred.
5 p.m. — BlueBet makes a splash with BlueWater deal
The Grand Canyon State could become the first forway into the US sports betting market for BlueBet, which has partnered with BlueWater Resort & Casino to gain access to Arizona.
Based in Australia, BlueBet looks to enter the Arizona market alongside the Colorado River Indiana Tribes, which has already applied for a regulated wagering license in the state. The expectation is for BlueBet to set up a retail sportsbook at the casino as well as launch a mobile betting app.
BlueBet also looks to go live in neighboring Colorado, as well as four other jurisdictions.
9:00 a.m. — BetMGM, Gila River, and NFL’s Cardinals are in the betting game together
Long after most other leagues in Arizona found a betting partner, the Arizona Cardinals finally announced their sportsbook plans. Unlike the Suns and Diamondbacks, the franchise is not only working with a major online betting brand, but it will also bring a tribe into the fold.
The Gila River Indian Community will work with the team and BetMGM to provide and promote sports betting at its three Arizona casinos. In addition to providing retail sportsbooks at the casinos, BetMGM will also build a retail book on-site at State Farm Stadium.
However, though the plan is to still get sports betting launched next month, don’t expect that State Farm sportsbook until the 2022 NFL season.
11:30 a.m. — TwinSpires partners with Tonto Apache Tribe
Add TwinSpires to the list of sports betting operators partnering with tribes in Arizona.
Owned by Churchill Downs Inc., TwinSpires entered into a deal with the Tonto Apache Tribe to potentially launch retail and online sports betting in the Grand Canyon State.
TwinSpires is already live in six states, including in neighboring Colorado. Churchill Downs also owns BetAmerica, which operates in New Jersey and expects to rebrand as TwinSpires later this year.
While the Tonto Apache, which runs Mazatzal Hotel & Casino, provides TwinSpires with an access point, it’s not a guarantee that the brand will go live in Arizona. With more applications than available licenses expected to come in from Arizona tribes, it will be up to the Arizona Department of Gaming to determine which applicants are most qualified.
11 a.m. — Barstool Sports lands Arizona Bowl
Barstool Sports, the ever-popular digital media company and legal sports betting operator, has expanded its presence in Arizona.
The company announced that it has secured a multi-year deal to become the title sponsor of college football’s Arizona Bowl starting with the Dec. 31, 2021 game.
What’s more, the newly named Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl will only air exclusively on Barstool’s digital and social media platforms. The game had previously aired on CBS Sports.
This news comes on the heels of Barstool becoming the exclusive sportsbook of Phoenix Raceway.
So not only will Barstool sponsor a college bowl game, but it also expects to enter the Arizona sports betting market this fall.
10 a.m. — ADG opens up application process for sportsbooks
Applications have started rolling into the Arizona Department of Gaming. Three days after finalizing its set of rules for legal sports betting in the Grand Canyon State, the ADG sent those rules along for final approval by the Arizona Secretary of State on Monday. In doing so, the department opened the application window for qualified parties to seek licensing for both regulated sports betting and daily fantasy sports.
Applicants will now have until Aug. 9 to get their paperwork into the ADG. Once the initial application period closes, the department will spend up to five days determining which applicants are “initially qualified” to receive licenses. Another eight days will follow if the ADG receives more applications than available licenses.
According to the ADG timeline, fantasy sports operators can begin accepting players Aug. 28, the same day that sports betting platforms can start marketing and allow customers to create online sportsbook accounts. The ADG continues to stand by a Sept. 9 launch for legal sports betting.
Starting Monday, the Arizona Department of Gaming will accept sports betting applications.
The ADG released its final set of draft rules Wednesday, which the regulatory body finalized and approved two days later. As such, the ADG said it will open the application process July 26.
On its surface, that would still mean regulators would need to move quickly in order to get the legal wagering industry off the ground in time for its intended Sept. 9 launch.
The last draft of rules, though, shows that the ADG expects to act at a breakneck pace.
Starting Monday, the division of gaming will accept applications for a minimum of 10 days. The following five days will feature the ADG deeming which applicants are “initially qualified” to offer legal sports betting in Arizona. Another eight days will be spent sussing out applications should the number of submissions exceed licenses available.
This means that the ADG could notify “initially qualified” applicants by Aug. 13, while approval for applications needing extra consideration could arrive by Aug. 25.
Penn Interactive, a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming, and NASCAR announced a multiyear market access partnership in Arizona. Part of the agreement authorizes Barstool, owned by PNG, to become the exclusive sportsbook of Phoenix Raceway.
In being afforded the opportunity to open retail and online sportsbooks in the Grand Canyon State, while also gaining prominent signage at the track, Barstool will “take an active role” in promoting NASCAR odds, according to the announcement, while offering “unique promotions and odds boosts.”
This agreement comes a year after Penn National became the first authorized gaming operator of NASCAR. Barstool currently has sports betting operations up in four other states with eyes to expand even more.
It appears the Yavapai-Apache Nation is ready to bring PointsBet to Arizona.
The Australia-based sportsbook partnered with Cliff Castle Casino Hotel, operated by the Yavapai-Apache, to potentially launch online and retail sportsbooks in the Grand Canyon State.
If all goes to plan, Arizona will become the 16th US jurisdiction in which PointsBet operates.
Before PointsBet Arizona can launch, of course, it must receive licensing from state regulators. While the state has carved out 10 licenses for tribal gaming operators, it’s expected that 16 tribes could apply.
As such, nothing is necessarily a given when it comes to AZ tribal sports betting partners. The Arizona Department of Gaming will determine which applicants are more qualified to offer regulated wagering.
That said, as detailed by our own Derek Helling, PointsBet certainly gives the Yavapai-Apache a leg up. After all, experience in the gaming and sports betting world is among the factors taken into account by regulators, as is the ability to launch in relatively quick order.
With PointsBet in its corner, the Yavapai-Apache could have an inside track to licensing.
After two drafts of rules for the coming Arizona sports betting industry, the Arizona Department of Gaming has finally addressed how it would consider license allocation.
While provisional, and subject to potential changes based on public input, these rules detail how regulators would decide which applicants would be authorized to offer legal sports betting should more parties apply than licenses exist.
In particular, this proposal addresses how the state would determine which tribes would receive licensing. State law carves out 10 licenses for tribes in Arizona, which features 16 tribes. So, should at least 11 tribes apply, how would regulators determine which parties qualify most?
According to the proposal, the ADG will take into account a number of factors. First and foremost, however, is the experience of applicants in gaming as well as legal sports betting. From there, regulators will assess how applicants address responsible gambling, how they contribute to communities and how ready they will be to launch sports betting in relatively quick order.
That last factor obviously favors tribes that have formed partnerships with betting operators, such as the San Carlos Apache Tribe, which teamed with Wynn Resorts to bring WynnBet to Arizona.
It is still a ways off from launching in Arizona, but DraftKings Sportsbook will have an added perk once it does, courtesy of a new deal with Major League Baseball.
The operator, which has partnered with TPC Scottsdale, expanded its existing partnership with MLB, making DraftKings a “co-exclusive” sports betting partner of the league alongside BetMGM.
Part of the deal includes a collaboration between the two parties to create a “Bet & Watch” feature integrated into the DraftKings app. According to a press release, this feature would be accessible to fans with “open and active MLB.com and DraftKings accounts.” Those viewers would be able to watch a live MLB game within the DraftKings app.
In addition, DraftKings and MLB will work on “sports betting-themed game broadcast experiences” that will exist within the MLB.TV product.
Two drafts of sports betting rules have been released, and now the second round of public feedback is in the books.
The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) heard from a variety of parties, including sports teams and operators.
While discussion did surround the proposed fees and tax rates for the industry, much attention was still paid to mobile betting skins. After all, during the last public comment period, stakeholders expressed an interest in having only one online skin. The latest drafts, though, allow for two online skins. The ADG, however, did not include the word “skins.” Rather, it used the term “event wagering platforms.”
This caused some confusion. Andrew Diss, representing the Arizona Coyotes, wondered if that meant both the NHL team and its AHL affiliate could brand a mobile betting app. The answer: “That’s potentially something you could do.”
Our Derek Helling detailed other concerns regarding skins, as well as the use of official league data and how the ADG will allocate sports betting licenses for tribes in Arizona.
Ted Vogt, director of the ADG, indicated that a refined draft of rules and a proposal for license allocation will come “shortly thereafter.”
The San Carlos Apache Tribe showed its interest in taking part in the Arizona sports betting industry, as the tribe partnered with Wynn Resorts to provide WynnBet access to online wagering in the Grand Canyon State.
The San Carlos Apache Tribal Gaming Enterprise, which operates the Apache Gold Casino and Apache Sky Casino, will collaborate with WynnBet in a deal that marks the first sportsbook-tribe agreement in Arizona.
The WynnBet brand has already been introduced in six other states.
With this news, the number of operators that have market access deals for sports betting in Arizona now sits at xxx:
- DraftKings (TPC Scottsdale)
- FanDuel (Phoenix Suns
- Caesars (Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Bally Bet (Phoenix Mercury)
- WynnBet (San Carlos Apache Tribe)
It seems regulators are looking to get as much out of the Arizona sports betting industry as possible.
Despite stakeholders stating during the public comment period that they would prefer one mobile skin for online wagering, the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) included language in its latest set of draft rules that would afford each licensee up to two skins.
As a result, the mobile betting landscape in the Grand Canyon State could feature 40 online sportsbooks.
According to the 13-page draft, license holders “may use more than one” and “up to two event wagering platforms” as approved by the ADG.
Of course, the draft set of rules included much more, including setting application fees and tax rates (otherwise known as “privilege fees”). The ADG also added credit cards and wire transfers to its list of acceptable forms of payment for betting.
The ADG will hold another public comment period through July 7. It will host a virtual hearing that morning while also accepting written feedback. The department still lists Sept. 9 as the go-live date for AZ sports betting.
It seems as if Phoenix Suns Arena will now have two retail sportsbooks once sports betting in Arizona launches.
Bally’s announced today that it has reached a deal with the Phoenix Mercury to launch a mobile betting app in the state as well as open a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at the arena, which the Mercury share with the Phoenix Suns.
You might recall that the Suns already have an agreement in place with FanDuel Sportsbook to also open a retail operation as well as roll out a betting app.
State law allows for owners of professional sports teams and facilities to apply for one of 10 sports betting licenses in Arizona. Robert Sarver owns the Suns as well as the Mercury, so it was not clear if the WNBA franchise would be able to participate in regulated wagering.
However, the law does include a provision that an already-licensed owner can appoint a designee to apply for licensing, which likely is what happened in the case of the Mercury.
As a result, pending regulatory approval, the Mercury will become the first individual women’s franchise to go all-in with legal sports betting.
The Gila River Indian Community has plans to open a fourth casino in Arizona.
In April, Gov. Doug Ducey signed off on an agreement with the state’s tribes that not only legalized sports betting in the state but also authorized the construction of at least four new casinos in the Grand Canyon State, including at least two new properties in the Phoenix metro area.
That is where the Gila River Indian Community is targeting, as the tribe intends to build the casino on community trust land just outside the southern border of Chandler. The property is expected to open within two years. Gila River also operates three casinos, two in Chandler and one in Laveen.
Among the amenities offered at the new casino is retail sports betting. While there are only 10 mobile betting licenses available for tribes in Arizona, all tribes can house brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at their casinos.
The new casino expects to cost $100 million, and the tribe could explore plans to add a hotel.
Written comments submitted to the Arizona Department of Gaming regarding the first draft of sports betting rules were released recently. And plenty of suggestions came about.
Similar to suggestions provided during virtual meetings earlier this week, much of the written feedback regarded requests for clarification.
For example, Tom Auther, owner of Arizona Downs, noted that the newly passed law authorizing Arizona sports betting requires that a racetrack partner with an event wagering operator, aka a licensee, in order to participate in regulated wagering.
Auther called this an “extremely onerous” task for racetracks, “as there is really not a large amount of money in this for us and having to negotiate with a professional team and further water down our income seems unfair.” Auther requested that the ADG eliminates that requirement.
Among the other concerns, Jordan Rose, representing Phoenix Rising FC of the United Soccer League, asked for the organization to be included as authorized professional sports teams to obtain sports betting licenses.
The law details that “professional sport” in this sense means a sport conducted at the highest level, league or organization play for its respective sport. It specifically notes baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, soccer and motor sports.
Rose noted that Phoenix Rising stands as the state’s highest-level pro soccer club playing a stadium with a capacity of 10,000 “with room to grow.” She conceded that it is possible to interpret the law to exclude USL teams, as Major League Soccer is obviously a superior league. But MLS doesn’t have a franchise located in Arizona, nor does it plan to for now.
Therefore, Rose said, Phoenix Rising is in fact the highest-level pro soccer team in Arizona and should be allowed to participate in legal sports betting.
Certainly more suggestions were submitted, which we outlined here.
It’s time for the Arizona Department of Gaming to reconvene and hash out its next draft of regulations for the Arizona sports betting industry. And there are some big vacancies to fill from the first draft.
The department sought feedback regarding those omitted portions of the rules, which included licensing fees, number of skins per licensee and license allocation for tribes.
During a virtual meeting with the ADG recently, stakeholders expressed an interest in just one mobile skin. In fact, that was the assumption. As Amilyn Pierce of the Arizona Diamondbacks said:
“As somebody who was involved in the conversations about the legislation, I can say with 100% certainty that it was always our belief that it would only be one skin.”
While the law says an event wagering operator “may use more than one event wagering platform,” Pierce argued this meant a licensee can use one platform for retail and a different one for mobile.
Only one speaker, Matt Olin of Apache Gaming Enterprise, favored multiple skins. If each licensee only has one, Arizona could feature up to 20 betting apps.
As for tribal license allocation, each tribe in the state can offer a retail sportsbook at its casino. For mobile, though, only 10 such licenses exist. Our Matt Kredell broke down how tribes could band together to make the most of limited online licenses.
The Arizona Department of Gaming is a step closer to finalizing rules and regulations for the Arizona sports betting industry.
A week after releasing its first draft rules, and following several days of public discussions and testimony, the ADG heads back to work to potentially nail down the regulatory framework.
While certainly a step in the right direction, Ted Vogt, director of the ADG, noted that the department will hold another brief public comment period once the ADG updates its draft. That said, confidence remains that the first sportsbooks in AZ could crop up by Sept. 9.
The initial set of draft rules had a few glaring omissions, which the department hopes to correct during its next few meetings. Those include:
- Number of skins per licensee
- Tax rate paid by operators
- License allocation
That last item mostly concerns tribal involvement. The new sports betting law authorizes 10 licenses to be doled out among Arizona’s 22 gaming tribes. Obviously, the ADG must figure out how to distribute those licenses.
What’s more, there are 10 licenses available for racetracks and off-track betting facilities, otherwise known as “limited event wagering operators.” In order to get in on the action, those properties have to align with one of the 20 event wagering operators in the state. Details of this aspect of the industry, however, are still being developed.
Regardless of how much work is left on the department’s plate, it is taking a step in the right direction. And even with another public comment period awaiting, it has not deterred regulators from keeping the confidence of a Sept. 9 kickoff for Arizona sports betting.
According to the Arizona Department of Gaming, tribes in the Grand Canyon State made nearly $33.8 million in gaming contributions to the Arizona Benefits Fund during the fourth quarter of the state’s 2021 fiscal year.
That total represents a 32% increase compared with the same quarter in the fiscal year 2020.
|Instructional Improvement Fund/Education||$17,012,363|
|Trauma and Emergency Services Fund||$8,506,181|
|Arizona Department of Gaming operating costs||$2,737,248|
|Arizona Wildlife Conservation Fund||$2,430,337|
|Problem Gambling Education, Treatment and Prevention||$675,846|
Ted Vogt, director of the ADG, emphasized how that total is obviously beneficial to Arizona but also reflects the state of tribal gaming.
“Not only is it clear that Arizona Tribal gaming has had a strong rebound, each of these additional gaming dollars will help support vital programs throughout the state like schools, trauma centers, wildlife conservation and more.”
Tribes operating casinos in Arizona contribute a percentage of their gross gaming revenue to the state, cities, towns and counties.
Nearly 24 hours exactly after the Arizona Department of Gaming said it was still working, the department released draft rules for sports betting in the Grand Canyon State.
The 13-page document provides an overall outline as to what the state’s sports betting industry might look like, although few details are actually revealed. For example, the ADG did not specify how much licensing fees would cost operators nor did it mention the monthly tax rate.
In addition, the regulatory body noted that each licensee would need to submit lists of events it would like to offer betting markets on and await ADG approval. What’s more, when it comes to the use of official league data, operators would need to request the use of “non-official data.”
Along with the draft rules, the ADG included feedback forms, as the public comment period has officially begun. According to the department, the final hearing for this window is June 21. From there, the department would reconvene and make amendments as needed.
The start of the third week of June was supposed to bring us the first drafted rules and regulations for the Arizona sports betting industry.
The Arizona Department of Gaming, though, is still working on that task.
The regulatory body took to Twitter at the end of the business day and noted that it is “finalizing details for draft event wagering rules to ensure completeness and accuracy, which will be available for public comment when this process is complete.”
That public comment period was expected to begin June 14 and last a week. After that, the Department of Gaming can amend rules as necessary and then begin reviewing operator applications. Regulators still expect to launch AZ sports betting by Sept. 9.
Gila River Hotels & Casinos has introduced a new amenity to its gaming offerings.
The free-to-play social casino PlayGila launched recently, the product of a partnership between Gila River and gaming software provider GAN.
Visitors to Gila River properties can access the social casino via any mobile device and play games such as slots, blackjack, roulette, video poker and other casino games.
While players cannot win real money playing these free games, they can pile up rewards that can be redeemed at any of the three Gila River casinos.
When the 2021 NFL season kicks off between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bettors in Arizona could have access to the state’s first legal wagering options.
In an updated timeline, the Arizona Department of Gaming indicated that the state is on track to approve and roll out the first AZ sportsbooks by Sept. 9, the date of the first NFL regular-season game.
This comes as welcome news, certainly. Just over a week ago, the US Department of the Interior signed off on renewed compacts between Arizona and tribes operating casinos in the state. A few weeks earlier, three sports betting operators landed partners to introduce their sportsbooks in Arizona.
On top of the timeline announcement, the Arizona Department of Gaming noted that it should complete its process of drafting rules and regulations for the industry by June 14, thus opening up a public comment period. Once that weeklong timeframe concludes, regulators can amend and finalize rules as necessary.
Nearly a month has passed since two professional teams and a pro facility (TPC Scottsdale) locked up sports betting partners in Arizona. The waiting game continues for the next domino to fall. And speculation abounds as to which piece it will be.
One legal betting operator, BetMGM, may have an inside track to teaming with the Arizona Coyotes, simply by existing associations within the NHL.
For starters, in 2018, the league brought in MGM Resorts International as an official sports betting partner. What’s more, MGM holds a prominent presence in Las Vegas, home of Coyotes division rival Golden Knights. The company owns T-Mobile Arena, which itself is surrounded by MGM properties.
Then today, BetMGM signed NHL legend Wayne Gretzky as a brand ambassador. Obviously the Great One’s legacy ties back to his playing days with Edmonton, Los Angeles, St. Louis and the New York Rangers.
But, if you recall, Gretzky bought a 10% stake in the then-Phoenix Coyotes shortly after retiring in 2000. He later became the team’s head coach in 2005, a position he held until 2009 while amassing a 143-161-24 record.
Certainly, MGM will be looking for an access point to launch BetMGM in Arizona. With such strong roots in the sport already, it would make sense for the brand to partner with the Arizona Coyotes.
The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe has picked back up on its plans to open a new casino in Prescott at the junction of Highway 69 and Yavpe Connector.
Initially started in 2014, the new casino plans have stalled. But with Arizona expanding legal gambling this year, the tribe now has some urgency to get property up and running. As Bob Ogo, president of the tribe’s board of directors, said: “The gaming market in Arizona is changing and the tribe is preparing for the future.”
The Yavapai already owns Bucky’s and Yavapai casinos. Seven years ago, the idea was for this new property to replace the other two. There has been no confirmation as to whether that remains the case.
If the tribe sticks with all three casinos, the Yavapai will certainly be a tribe to watch as the state has allotted 10 sports betting licenses for Arizona tribes.
The tribal compact expanding gaming and legalizing sports betting received federal approval, putting the ball back in the state’s court to navigate from law to launch. The next step is for the Arizona Department of Gaming to start drafting the first round of regulations and release them to the public for feedback.
In actuality, the department has already been hard at work on regulations, so expect that first draft to hit the public sooner rather than later. Usually, states allow for a 60-90 day comment period to generate feedback. At that pace, final regs could be in place by the end of the summer.
What does that mean for launch? It keeps Arizona on pace to launch retail sportsbooks in time for football season. Moreover, if the Dept. of Gaming can act quickly, it keeps online betting launch happening in 2021 as a possibility.
The Arizona Coyotes and Gila River Hotels & Casinos provided a helping hand to the Arizona homeless earlier this month.
The philanthropic arms of each party, the Arizona Coyotes Foundation and Gila River Cares, teamed up to present a $50,000 check to Human Services Campus Inc., a nonprofit committed to helping individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition, Gila River donated 4,000 towels, all part of the global initiative “Pay It Forward Day.”
Human Services Campus operates a 13-acre campus in Phoenix that also features 16 independent nonprofit organizations providing resources to the homeless. On a nightly basis, according to a count by Point-in-Time in January 2020, some 7,500 individuals experience homelessness in the county, including 3,700 that do not have shelter.
With the donation, Human Services Campus can help stem that rise. The nonprofit will be able to enhance the likes of temporary shelter, behavioral health services, housing navigation and day-to-day campus operations.
Another pro team has found its sports betting partner, as the Arizona Diamondbacks teamed with Caesars Entertainment to not only launch a mobile betting app in the state but also open a retail sportsbook at Chase Field.
Caesars will build a “first-class sportsbook and bar concept on the plaza adjacent to the team’s home,” according to a press release. The space, which will also include a broadcast studio, will exist at a location formerly known as Game Seven Grill.
In addition to the agreement with the Diamondbacks, Caesars also finalizes a multi-year agreement with Major League Baseball to become an “Authorized Gaming Operator of the league.”
Caesars will integrate its Caesars Rewards loyalty program that will allow bettors to earn credits and redeem them for experiences like entertainment, food and beverage and gaming experiences like VIP seating at a Diamondbacks game.
A “tentative rule drafting and operational timeline” emerged out of the Arizona Department of Gaming, which will act as the primary regulator for sports betting in Arizona.
While the ADG noted that it has not determined a tentative start date for the industry, it did provide some insight into the steps necessary before AZ sports betting can go live.
The department noted it has begun drafting rules for the industry and will spend 60 days creating a regulatory framework. After a public comment period, the ADG will amend rules as necessary and then prepare for an operational start date. However, Arizona sports betting cannot begin until the federal government looks over the amended tribal-state compacts. The US Department of Interior Office of Indian Gaming has 45 days to review and approve the compacts, followed by up to 90 days for the Federal Register to publish them.
A day after DraftKings gained market access to Arizona, FanDuel did the same.
FanDuel Group and the Phoenix Suns entered into a multi-year partnership that tabs FanDuel as the team’s “Official Sportsbook and Daily Fantasy Sports Partner.” This will allow the operator to set up a retail FanDuel Sportsbook inside the Phoenix Suns Arena, which is expected to open in time for the 2021-22 NBA season.
As expected, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a bill to legalize sports betting in Arizona. The governor also signed off on an amended tribal-state gaming compact to complete the process. The countdown to Arizona sports betting launch has officially begun.
DraftKings became the first sports betting operator to officially gain access to the coming Arizona sports betting market, announcing a deal with the PGA Tour and TPC Scottsdale to bring DraftKings Sportsbook to the course that hosts the ever-popular Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Taking advantage of soon-to-be-signed legislation that allows venues to partner with sports betting operators, DraftKings will create a “19th Hole” experience that features eating, drinking and gambling. The sportsbook will be open to the public year-round.
The first official betting partner of the PGA Tour in 2020, DraftKings did not reveal plans of where the brick-and-mortar will be located. But as our Eric Ramsey noted, the iconic 16th hole is not a bad place to start.
And that was (relatively) quick. The Senate moves the bill to third reading and votes instead on the identical House Bill 2772, passing it by the needed two-thirds majority. It passed 23-6, with one no vote.
The bill now heads back to Gov. Doug Ducey, who has previously indicated his desire to sign it. It appears sports betting is coming to Arizona.
After a series of amendments were considered, the Senate only amended the sports betting bill to match the House version.
That sets up the Senate for a final up-down vote on the bill, possibly later this evening.
The sports betting legislation hit the Senate floor. The conversation opened with a discussion on several amendments, including several from Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales. Her amendments aimed primarily to protect tribal exclusivity of gambling in the state. One amendment also included a ban on college sports betting.
She also stated she believed 17 of the 23 tribes affected by the sports betting bill will be adversely economically affected by the legislation given their rural locations and other considerations. Additionally, she stated the governor-appointed Executive Director of Indian Gaming Ted Vogt had far too much power under this bill.
All were defeated on the floor.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita proposed two different amendments about where state revenue from sports betting would go. The first amendment is to flag an unspecified percentage of money to help supplement school teacher salaries. The second amendment similarly asked for 10% of sportsbook tax money be used for nonpartisan voter outreach.
Both of those amendments failed as well.
Ugenti-Rita also proposed an amendment expanding the scope of non-tribal licenses beyond the 10 allocated for sports franchises and arenas. She suggested a more open application process to any qualified entities versus a pre-selected group of people. A Senate vote defeated that measure as well.
The Senate Rules Committee advanced SB 1797 without opposition. In fact, the committee took only a few minutes to do so before adjourning, no doubt so the legislation could make its way to the entire Senate later in the day.
SB 1797 would legalize online sports betting and allow the issuance of up to 10 licenses for sportsbooks at or near stadiums, race tracks, and golf courses. So, for example, if you were at Chase Field to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks, you could potentially have access to brick-and-mortar sports betting at the site.
Another 10 licenses would go to tribes in Arizona that express interest in opening retail sportsbooks or operating an online sportsbook outside of tribal land. Tribes that want to obtain sports betting licenses must agree to new compacts with the state. The proposed tax rate for the bill is at least 8%.