First On The Tee: DraftKings Gains Access To Arizona Sports Betting Via TPC Scottsdale

Posted By Eric Ramsey on April 14, 2021 - Last Updated on April 22, 2021

With the enabling bill still sitting on the governor’s desk, national sports betting operators are already scrambling for position in Arizona.

DraftKings this morning became the first company to secure its access, revealing a multi-faceted alliance with the PGA Tour and TPC Scottsdale. The course, an annual destination for the Tour and a modern-day hotspot of golf fandom, is eligible to receive a primary sports betting license under the terms of the bill that will soon become law.

In a press release issued before Wednesday’s opening bell, DraftKings announced that it will create a “19th Hole” experience built on eating, drinking and gambling. The “premium retail sportsbook” will be open to bettors year-round. The deal also unlocks statewide online betting in a sneaky-big, sports-heavy market of around 5.5 million adults.

The Tour’s senior vice president of media and gaming, Norb Gambuzza, commended the state for its innovative approach to sports betting policy.

“We are thrilled to work with DraftKings – along with the City of Scottsdale and the Thunderbirds – to explore a one-of-a-kind sportsbook experience at TPC Scottsdale and the world-class Waste Management Phoenix Open. ‘The People’s Open’ is one of the most attended events in golf and with this announcement we look forward to taking the fan experience to another level.”

The announcement expands an existing partnership under which DraftKings became the PGA Tour’s first official betting operator in 2020.

Here comes DraftKings Arizona

There was never any doubt DraftKings would find a way into Arizona. And the swift announcement is indicative of its broader ambitions nationwide. DraftKings serves nearly every US state with legal sports betting and is among the top operators in all of them.

The partnership also features an exclusive partnership with the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Organizers hope this will enhance its reputation as one of the most exciting events on the PGA Tour. Although they haven’t chosen an exact location for the sportsbook’s footprint yet, the iconic 16th hole is certainly among the most amusing to consider.

Wherever it is, DraftKings Sportsbook AZ at TPC Scottsdale will be one of the most exciting places to place a bet.

DraftKings Chief Business Officer Ezra Kucharz called the opportunity a “testament to the vision of both organizations.”

This type of implementation, he said, figures to become more common as time goes on. DraftKings is currently building a sportsbook adjacent to Wrigley Field in Chicago, for instance, while its primary rival FanDuel operates a book at Meadowlands in New Jersey – right in the shadows of MetLife Stadium.

The AZ sports betting bill additionally includes provisions to regulate daily fantasy sports, allowing both of those operators to offer their complementary product in the state for the first time.

AZ sports betting coming into focus

The legislation in Arizona is somewhat unique in that it expressly allows sports venues to have sportsbooks.

Stadiums and arenas with a capacity of more than 10,000 seats can do so in partnership with its home teams. Two other venues – TPC Scottsdale and Phoenix Raceway – may do so directly. The bill allows each licensee to partner with multiple operators. The wording of the press release makes it clear that only portions of the DraftKings deal are exclusive.

Whether or not TPC Scottsdale adds additional partners, competition is coming soon. FanDuel is also a complete lock to secure access to the market. In fact, the open nature of the licensing structure creates room for dozens of brands. There is, in fact, no apparent cap on the number of skins for each licensee.

Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to sign Arizona sports betting into law imminently, and the fiscal note attached to the bill projects at least $15.2 million in annual tax revenue by fiscal year 2024. Given its prime spot in Scottsdale and its performance elsewhere in the US, DraftKings will no doubt be responsible for a big chunk of the total.

You can bet on that.

Photo by AP / Ross D. Franklin
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Eric Ramsey

Eric is a reporter and writer covering the gambling industry, online poker, sports betting regulation and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.

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