Arizona Sportsbook Feeling Blue Thanks To BlueBet And BlueWater Deal

Written By Derek Helling on August 10, 2021
BlueBet and BlueWater Casino

BlueBet Arizona and the BlueWater Resort & Casino may just be made for each other, and for reasons beyond the similar names. The Australian bookmaker and the Colorado River Indian Tribes casino near Parker will work together to pursue a license to offer Arizona sports betting.

Provided the AZ Dept. of Gaming complies with their wishes, bettors in AZ could have access to the sportsbook as soon as next month. It’s part of a larger play for BlueBet in the United States.

What we know about BlueBet Arizona so far

According to a press release from the sportsbook, the Colorado River Indian Tribes and BlueBet have already applied for licensure. The parties could find out whether they qualify for licensure as soon as this weekend.

Should they qualify, the department could issue a license as early as Aug. 27. Upon selection, the two companies would be free to start registering bettors for accounts and rolling out their marketing the following day.

In the current timeline, the first possible date that BlueBet Sportsbook could start taking wagers is Sept. 9. Bettors should note that’s merely a goal though. There’s nothing in state law that mandates sportsbooks’ launch by then.

If and when BlueBet becomes licensed and approved to launch, bettors will have access to both online and retail wagering. The aforementioned release is scant on details about the components or location of the brick-and-mortar book. More details should be forthcoming after licensure, provided that happens.

That’s no foregone conclusion at this point. State law allocates only 10 licenses for tribal casino operators. Regulators expect to receive more applications than that number, meaning some applicants will get nothing but disappointment.

Although there might be somewhat of a “workaround” to a license denial in partnering with other tribal license holders, the preferred option for BlueWater is obviously its own license. For BlueBet, though, Arizona is just one part of the plan.

BlueBet’s Arizona-first US strategy

BlueBet also has designs on taking its sportsbook live in:

    • Colorado
    • Iowa
    • Maryland
    • Tennessee
    • Virginia

It has also already applied for a license in VA and secured a market access deal into IA. However, the company from down under seems highest on AZ.

“We’re very excited to be announcing this agreement within two months of BlueBet’s IPO,” said BlueBet CEO Bill Richmond. “We see Arizona as a fantastic next step for BlueBet in the US. The opportunity is particularly advantageous because Arizona is such an unpenetrated market, with no existing operators despite it being a state of sports fanatics. Arizona’s population is twice that of Iowa, where we have our first US skin and where the sports betting market is estimated to have gaming revenue worth more than a billion US dollars per year, so this agreement represents a significant escalation in our push into the US.”

If regulators acquiesce, that means BlueBet will cut its teeth in the US in AZ. Arizonians should be the first to experience and respond to the app’s interface, odds, and promotions. In that way, they’ll have an opportunity to influence the product for the rest of the nation.

Before that can happen, though, they need to convince AZ bettors to place their bets with them more than just once in a blue moon.

Photo by Andrea Haase | Dreamstime.com
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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