Since 2020, there have been three major sports betting bills introduced in the state legislature. This was considered a good thing to get the discussion going, but ultimately lawmakers needed to settle on just one option.
Senate Bill 1525 was introduced in February 2020, and that was the first time that sports betting was really brought up. That bill was similar to a bill introduced in 2019, but there wasn’t much support at that time.
While no action was taken in 2020, Governor Doug Ducey continued to express his desire for legal sports betting in Arizona. This year, both chambers of the legislature introduced sports betting legislation, but it was the House Bill that ultimately got the final signature.
House Bill 2772 was approved by the House in March, and Senate Bill 1794 was starting to gain momentum around that same time. In April, the Senate decided to look closely at HB 2772, and ultimately voted to send it to the desk of the Governor.
Governor Doug Ducey signed off on the bill on April 15, 2021, and the new gaming compacts were approved by the US Department of Interior on May 24. There were 18 Tribal Nations that signed off on the compacts, but not all of them will be authorized to offer sports betting.
Rules Have Been Posted
After the approval from the US Department of Interior, the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) went to work in crafting sports betting rules and regulations. The ADG actually had a slight delay in posting the first draft of these rules, but they have now been released.
There will be 20 sports betting licenses available in Arizona, and they will be split up evenly. Native American tribes will have access to 10 licenses, and professional sports teams will receive 10 as well.
These licenses will allow the license-holder to operate both retail and online sports betting, but there is only one online skin that comes with each license. This is an area that is up for public comment, and could ultimately be changed.
Tribes that have more than one retail property will be able to offer sports betting through one single license. There are currently just six professional sports teams that qualify for a license, and that means that expansion is coming.
Daily fantasy sports has also been legalized through this piece of legislation, and that can be launched at the same time as sports betting. The licensing fees and tax rate will be finalized after the public review and comment period has ended.
The Arizona sports betting industry is set to launch on September 9, 2021, barring any major setbacks.
Should Be a Highly Competitive Market
Arizona is in a great part of the United States when it comes to sports betting as there is not a ton of competition available. This state is also relatively large in size, and bigger states typically do better in terms of overall handle and revenue.
Lawmakers in Arizona got it right by allowing both retail and online betting as mobile is expected to be the preferred option. With at least 20 online licenses available, all of the top operators in the US sports betting industry should enter the market.
The fact that Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel have all already entered the state through partnerships show just how profitable this industry can be. There are some large tribal casinos in the state as well, and that will help get the industry up and running.
By giving professional sports teams in the state a chance to offer retail betting at the stadiums should bring in plenty of handle and revenue as well.
Operators Forming Partnerships With Pro Teams
Before the legislation was even passed, sports betting operators were already starting to form partnerships with professional sports teams and leagues in Arizona. This will allow the operators to launch online betting, and betting can also be offered at the ballparks and stadiums.
DraftKings was the first to announce one of these partnerships as it struck a deal with the PGA Tour. This deal relates specifically to TPC Scottsdale as this is a stop on the PGA Tour each year.
Just one day later, FanDuel announced a multi-year partnership with the Phoenix Suns.The Suns are a very popular team in the state, and have already clinched a spot in the Western Conference Finals.
FanDuel is expected to set up a retail sportsbook at Phoenix Suns Arena, but it could take awhile before this is built.
Caesars has also joined the sports betting party in Arizona, announcing a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks play their home games at Chase Field, and a retail sportsbook will be set up at the stadium.
The Arizona Cardinals, the most popular team in the state has not yet announced a partnership with a sports betting operator.