Timeline Checkpoints Released, Regulators Start Drafting AZ Sports Betting Rules

Posted on April 27, 2021

Arizona sports fans and bettors rejoiced when Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a new sports betting bill on April 15. Then came the next logical question:

When could they start placing bets?

Last week, the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) began to answer that question. On Wednesday, the department outlined steps needed to launch the state’s first legal retail sportsbooks and betting apps in Arizona.

Regulators have offered operational timelines to help give a better idea of just when both sports betting and daily fantasy sports will go live in the state.

Regulators outline timelines for compact approval, rule-drafting

There are two timelines in play affecting when both sports betting and fantasy sports wagering will ultimately become available to Arizonans.

One involves the newly amended tribal-state compacts Ducey signed along with the sports betting bill. The other concerns the rule drafting schedule followed by the ADG.

According to a news release last week, the department has already begun drafting rules as the new law charges them to do. The ADG intends to “initiate a robust process to develop rules for these new forms of gaming,” describing themselves as already “hard at work” to achieve that goal.

The ADG noted, however, that “several steps these rules and associated amended Compacts will have to go through in order to become operational.”

Timeline for amended AZ tribal-state compacts

The day after Ducey signed both the bill and amended compacts, those compacts were submitted to the Office of Indian Gaming at the US Department of the Interior. The Office of Indian Gaming has 45 days to review and approve the amended compacts, or until the end of May. If no action is taken, the compacts are automatically approved.

Once approved, compacts will be sent to the Federal Register, which will have 90 days to publish the amended compacts. If the Office of Indian Gaming takes the full 45 days to approve, the Federal Register would have until the end of August to publish. Only then will the amended compacts become fully operational.

That process needs to be completed before either event or fantasy sports wagering can begin. The new law authorizes up to 10 licenses for tribes to offer both online and retail sports betting. It also allows up to 10 more licenses for professional sports teams and venues.

Timeline for AZ sports betting, DFS rules

Meanwhile, the ADG has 60 days from the signing of the bill to draft rules. That makes mid-June the regulators’ deadline. Those rules will cover both sports wagering and fantasy sports contests.

At that point, a public comment period will commence, followed by the ADG amending rules as needed. At that point, the ADG can make preparations to announce a tentative operational start date.

That timeline could roughly coincide with the timeline for amended tribal-state compacts. That said, the ADG has not specified exactly how long the post-drafting process could take.

Could sports betting and/or fantasy sports wagering be up and running in Arizona in time for the start of the NFL season in September? Perhaps, although getting there that soon might be optimistic.

While AZ regulators work, operators and providers get ready

Having compacts approved and rules finally drafted will not mean sports betting can immediately begin.

The ADG will still need to open up the application process, review applications, and issue licenses and regulatory approvals for both operators and software providers.

Anticipating regulators’ progress, potential operators and providers have already begun partnering. FanDuel and the Phoenix Suns have already announced an agreement,which came on the heels of DraftKings and the TPC Scottsdale reaching a similar deal.

Both BetMGM and theScore Bet have come up in investor presentations as well. Meanwhile, several other providers are certainly eyeing rapid entry into Arizona once the application process begins.

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