Final Sports Betting Rules Draft Released, Application Window Could Open July 26

Posted By Grant Lucas on July 23, 2021 - Last Updated on August 18, 2021

Just when it seemed potentially unrealistic for Arizona to launch legal sports betting by the start of the NFL season, we now see just how determined regulators are to meet that goal.

The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) released what could stand as the final draft for event wagering rules in the Grand Canyon State. Within that draft, a timeline for license application submissions and for regulatory review and approval.

If agreed upon by the ADG during its Friday meeting, the regulatory body will send the rules along to the Arizona Secretary of State for final approval. The application process could open as soon as July 26. And the ADG could issue licenses as soon as mid-August.

Details of AZ sports betting application review, approval

The ADG released its latest draft of rules Wednesday night and expects to approve it at its Friday meeting. The intent is for AZ sports betting to go live Sept. 9 — the first day of the 2021 NFL season.

Such an aggressive timeline seemed unlikely. However, the ADG detailed in its draft of rules how quickly it expects to issue licenses to operators.

Should the division of gaming sign off on the rules, and if the Secretary of State approves, the ADG will open the application process on Monday. From there, the ADG will open a minimum 10-day application period for interested parties to submit licensing and supplemental allocation applications.

According to the draft rules, within five days of the conclusion of that window, the ADG will notify applicants deemed “initially qualified” for licensing. Should submitted applications exceed the number of available licenses, the ADG will make its determination within eight days following that five-day period.

So, if the application window opens July 26, initial qualification notices should go out by Aug. 13. And final approval would come down Aug. 25. Just in time for NFL opening week.

Not much else different in latest AZ rules draft

Elsewhere in the rules, not much else has changed.

Regulators maintained that sports betting license holders can operate up to two AZ betting apps. This has gone unchanged despite some industry players lobbying for just a single skin per license.

In addition, the ADG laid out procedures for how it would determine which applicants are more qualified for licensing should the regulatory body receive more applications than available licenses. This area particularly relates to tribes in Arizona. State law carves out 10 licenses for tribes in the state, of which there are 16 that operate casinos. It’s expected that more than that allotment of 10 will apply.

Of the 19 criteria considered by the ADG:

  • Business ability, experience and track record of an operator within sports betting
  • Experience and track record of the applicant in gaming
  • Contributions to surrounding tribal, local or state community
  • Competency to conduct sports betting
  • Ability to launch within six months after receiving a license
  • Lack of opportunity “to benefit from event wagering type activity in some manner or location without a license”

“We look forward to wrapping this up very soon and pushing the rules out and getting moving on the rest of the process,” Ted Vogt, director of the ADG, said during a public comment session last week.

“We will go ahead, once we have these rules in a final format, come up with a much more solid time frame that we will release publicly.”

Photo by AP / Ross D. Franklin
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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