When it comes to NASCAR and sports betting, the auto racing league has been one of the more forward-thinking sports leagues. NASCAR can hold two sports betting licenses in Virginia and can pick up another Arizona sportsbook license as well.
Thanks to the April 2021 sports betting law, NASCAR’s Phoenix Raceway at Avondale is one of the entities eligible for one of ten commercial sports betting licenses in Arizona. If the Phoenix speedway does obtain a license, it would be eligible to launch an online sportsbook app in Arizona as well as open a retail sportsbook at the track.
Unlike some of the other partnerships involving pro sports teams and venues and sportsbooks in Arizona, NASCAR has actually given us a good glimpse of what to expect from a NASCAR sportsbook at Phoenix Raceway.
In Virginia, WynnBet uses Martinsville Speedway’s sports betting license to operate its online betting app. There is currently no retail sports betting in Virginia. Moreover, NASCAR and WynnBet don’t plan to install retail sportsbooks at Martinsville and Richmond any time soon.
Instead, the tracks are currently constructing WynnBet lounges exclusively for hosting WynnBet Sportsbook customers. Given Phoenix Raceway’s somewhat remote location near the airport and limited race days, there is likely little concern about constructing an accessible retail sportsbook to operate year-round. Rather, the betting lounge will be used as a marketing tool and site for new customer conversion to the app Phoenix Raceway partners with.
As mentioned, Wynn’s sportsbook brand WynnBet already has a relationship in Virginia that is very similar to what will be available in Arizona. There is no reason to suggest that Wynn won’t aim to be in Arizona and using NASCAR’s venue as a way into the state.
In November 2020, the two groups formally announced the partnership, not long after Virginia voters approved a sports betting referendum.
“We’re excited to partner with such a deeply experienced and innovative team to drive engagement and expand our sports betting offerings,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR’s senior vice president and chief digital officer. “Wynn is a trusted and iconic brand and our new relationship advances NASCAR’s position in the rapidly evolving gaming space while delivering fans with yet another live-in race engagement tool.”
Now, while it may seem Wynn is the obvious choice, NASCAR does have other gaming partners beyond WynnBet. The group has also worked with Penn National (Barstool) and MGM, two companies eager to enter the Arizona market as well.
Pardon the pun, but WynnBet is in pole position now, but they are not the only candidate to cross the finish line with Phoenix Raceway as a sportsbook partner.
Is it even possible for Arizona to get sports betting off the ground in time for the first NFL game of the season?
If rules are approved Friday, the sports betting application process could open July 26. The ADG could issue licenses by mid-August.
Moreso than some of the other sports venues eligible for sports betting in Arizona, Phoenix Raceway is going to be almost solely reliant on an online sportsbook to bring in betting revenue. There are occasional race days, but by and large, there are simply just not going to be many people in the vicinity of the speedway for a retail sportsbook to matter. Instead, the focus of this license will be almost solely about an online betting offering.
Given how quickly WynnBet and Martinsville mobilized in Virginia, expect Phoenix Raceway to move quickly and be one of the first betting apps to go live in Arizona.
There are still quite a few steps to get to a point where apps can launch though. The expectation is retail sportsbooks should hopefully start launching by football season. Then, online sportsbook should launch towards the end of 2021.
Of course, Phoenix Raceway will probably do everything it can to launch in time for the Xfinity NASCAR Championship. NASCAR Cup weekend hits Phoenix on Nov 7., so the raceway will likely be scrambling as fast as it can to get an app up and running for one of the biggest auto racing events of the year.
Originally known as Phoenix International Speedway, the track opened in 1964 and has existed in some iteration ever since. The venue hosted several less famous auto racing brands before beginning its affiliation with NASCAR in 1978. However, it took until 1988 before the premiere racing circuit of NASCAR visited the venue.
Now there are two visits to Phoenix a season from NASCAR and the venue is hosting the marquee series’ championship event in November. These visits translate to between $400-$500 million in revenue for Arizona each year.
As the venue’s popularity rose, the venue underwent a massive reconstruction that finished in 2018. The new make-over for the track included 45,000 grandstand seating, new fan zone area, and 32 renovated suites.
Perhaps the newest renovation for the speedway will be a betting lounge or retail sportsbook sometime in 2021.