The Arizona Department of Gaming will grant three sports betting licenses in the near future, with applications opening on Aug. 1. Two of the licenses are for mobile betting partnerships with pro sports teams; the other is designated for tribal licensing.
Arizona gaming law dictates that as many as 20 event wagering licenses may be issued: 10 of them to sports franchises, 10 to tribal nations. Currently, eight of the 10 sports franchise licenses are filled, and nine of the 10 tribal licenses are taken. At one point, all 10 were issued, but when Fubo folded, it opened a license spot.
By law, sports betting operators must partner with either a professional sports team or organization in the state (like the Arizona Cardinals or Diamondbacks), or with a federally-recognized tribe. Each license comes with a specific set of requirements.
The Department of Gaming evaluates applicants, performs background checks, and conducts interviews before any licenses are granted. Each applicant must also pay an application fee of $100,000. If selected, applicants are required to pay a license fee of $750,000, and an annual fee of $150,000.
Candidates for open sports betting license in Arizona
Arizona online sports betting began in September 2021. Revenue from taxes on sports betting goes into the state’s general fund to pay for programs and services throughout the state.
For sports betting operators seeking to enter Arizona, they will need to find a dance partner. On the sports side, that may be difficult. The Cardinals, Coyotes, Suns, and Diamondbacks all have partners, as do the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Only Phoenix Rising FC of the United Soccer League does not have a betting partner authorized to operate under the wagering license structure. Loudoun United FC, located in Virginia, is the only USL team with a sportsbook partner, and that deal is with Betfred, though it’s only a marketing relationship.
It’s possible a team like the Cardinals or Suns could enter into a second agreement with a sports betting operator for licensure in the state. That could depend on the exclusivity they may have in the deals in place. Let’s add that with talks of the Coyotes leaving the state, that could eventually open up another license.
The most prominent possible applicant is Fanatics, a behemoth of a company that is entering the sports betting market elsewhere in the US in 2023. Fanatics has expressed its desire to shake up the industry, and with more than $25 billion in cash on hand and a large customer base from its retail sports apparel business, it could make a dent. Earlier this year, Fanatics successfully submitted a bid to purchase PointsBet US, which gives it market share to support its plans.
Fanatics has yet to explain whether it will close down PointsBet and rebrand it. It’s the largest brand that isn’t in Arizona, and could be eyeing the market as a foothold for branding its new betting app.
The Europe-based Bet365 betting company has its sportsbook in a handful of states currently. It’s one of the few familiar names that has not made its presence felt in Arizona. Its history and stability make it a possible candidate to apply for a license here.
A company with more brand recognition than sports betting acumen, Sports Illustrated is cautiously navigating the sports betting industry. SI Sportsbook app is operational in Colorado, Michigan, and Virginia. While it’s not a revenue leader, SI Sportsbook has established itself as a solid performer and stable platform, resting on technology from 888 Atlantic Limited.
Also, as PlayAZ reported in May, it’s possible that another tribal sports betting license could open up in the future, seeing as TwinSpires has shuttered its sportsbooks across the US. As of now, Arizona is the only state where TwinSpires is still operating. But if the company closes down the app, in accordance with its exit from the sports betting market elsewhere, that would open another sports betting license in AZ.
Current sports betting license-holders in AZ
These are the eight sportsbook license-holders to partner with sports franchises in the state:
- BetMGM: Arizona Cardinals
- BetRivers: Arizona Rattlers
- Caesars: Arizona Diamondbacks
- DraftKings: PGA/TPC Scottsdale
- FanDuel: Phoenix Suns
- Bally Bet: Phoenix Mercury
- Barstool: NASCAR/Phoenix Raceway
- Sahara Bets: Arizona Coyotes
And the tribal license operators:
- Betfred: Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
- Betway: San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe
- Desert Diamond: Tohono O’odham Nation
- Golden Nugget: Hualapai Tribe
- Hard Rock: Navajo Nation
- SuperBook: Fort Mojave Indian Tribe
- TwinSpires: Tonto Apache Tribe
- Unibet: Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe
- WynnBET: San Carlos Apache Tribe
The largest tribal nation in Arizona without a sportsbook partnership is the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community. That tribe has a deal with OpenBet to operate a sportsbook, but it’s not a prominent offering on the market. If a partner emerged (say Fanatics?), it’s possible Salt River could snatch a lucrative deal and make an application on behalf of a commercial operator.
The Arizona Department of Gaming has announced that it will accept event wagering license applications from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15. Guidelines for applying and forms will be available on the state website beginning July 14. On July 17, the ADG will host a webinar to provide information and tips to prospective applicants.