Arizona Casinos Start Unveiling New Table Games Ahead Of Possible Sportsbook Launches

Written By Derek Helling on August 18, 2021
New Arizona Table Games Tribal Casinos

In the very near future, casinos in Arizona will begin offering legal retail sports betting, courtesy of updated compacts with the state.

However, not to be overlooked, those properties will also be offering new table games to help bettors pass time between the sporting action. Some have already integrated those new games.

In fact, for those casino operators, the new gaming tables represent a win in more than one way.

They are one of the more valuable parts of the new gaming compacts with the state. They also tend to deliver more revenue than sports betting. For some casinos, though, sports betting will be what gets people in the door.

New Arizona table games available at several casinos

According to Jess Winters of KPNX, multiple properties have moved quickly on this front. New gaming compacts between tribal operators of Arizona casinos and the state gave them the option to offer:

  • Baccarat
  • Craps
  • Roulette

Among those with those tables already taking players’ bets are three properties owned by Gila River Hotels & Casinos. Not all casinos have moved on the same timeline here, though. For example, Talking Stick Resort has yet to announce its new tables.

The first-movers in this segment are already seeing gains. At Wild Horse Pass, for instance, they’ve seen tremendous demand for the games since opening the tables last Friday.

“Folks were lining up, waiting for games to open up so they could be the first to play here,” said Richard Strafella, chief operations officer for Gila River Hotels & Casinos. “The crowds have been nonstop.”

What they’ve seen so far could be just the tip of the iceberg. Sports betting could provide the impetus for a completely different crowd to come through the doors and then try the new games.

Can casinos convert sports fans into table game players?

Gila River is likely one of 26 applicants for sports betting licenses that should find out the fates of their applications this month. Earlier this week, BetMGM Sportsbook announced a new partnership with Gila River and the Arizona Cardinals.

Provided regulators acquiesce, that means retail sportsbooks could open in Gila River’s properties – and other casinos around the state – as soon as Sept. 9. While the new table games themselves have already driven in people looking for a Las Vegas-style atmosphere closer to home, the sports betting amenities could bring in a completely different crowd.

On its own, sports betting usually is a small-margin product for casinos. They’re fortunate if they can hold as much as 10% in a month’s time. In comparison, casinos can realize win as great as 20% or 30% on table games.

The real path to monetizing the offering is in convincing people who came to place a bet and watch games to try other things while they’re on-site. With these new games in place, Arizona casinos are prepared to make serious attempts at such conversions.

Photo by AP / John Locher
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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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