The push to launch legal sports betting in the state of Arizona is entering what looks like its final month and preparations are gathering pace for the day when sports betting fans in the state will soon be able to wager on their favorite sports and markets. Here is the latest state of play.
TwinSpires Affiliates with Tonto Apache Tribe
The rules for sports betting in Arizona allow for licenses attached to tribal casinos and sports organizations, so betting companies have been working hard to sign up with an appropriate in-state partner so they are in the best position to capitalize on the new market.
Sports betting operator TwinSpires is the latest to move into the state, announcing a deal with the Tonto Apache Tribe. The deal means that TwinSpires, which is owned by Churchill Downs, will be able to set up a retail sports betting outlet at the Tribe’s Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, and will also be able to launch its online sports betting platform in the state.
TwinSpires currently operate sports books in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, Michigan and Indiana. It also expected that the Churchill Downs sports betting brand will transition to TwinSpires in the third quarter of this year, boosting the brand’s spread across the US.
Final Release of Arizona Sports Betting Rules
After a long period of consultation and multiple drafts, the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) has released what it believes will be the final draft of rules governing the new sector.
As expected, the rules confirm that there will be ten licenses available for professional sports organizations and ten for tribal casino operations, with each license allowing two operators (or skins) so there could in theory be as many as 40 operators in the state. In the event of an excess of license applications, the ADG will apply a series of criteria to choose the successful applicants.
The tax rate has been set at 10% for online betting and 8% for retail betting at the various retail venues around the state. Customers of Arizona sportsbooks have to be aged 21 and over, and physically present within the state when they place their bet, though there is no requirement for a bettor to be resident in the state. Wagering on high school events will not be permitted.
Current Regulatory Stage
Having released the final set of regulations on July 26, the ADG opened the license application period, which was set to run for two weeks. When this period ends, the ADG will determine which license applications have been successful.
Betting operators will not have long to get set up. The schedule indicates that customers will be able to register with sportsbooks from 28th August, and operators will be permitted to begin marketing their platforms to Arizona customers from that date.
From that point, it will be just 12 days until the official launch of the Arizona sports betting market, which will go live on September 9, 2021, the day before the new NFL season kicks off.
Most Likely Sportsbooks for Arizona
There has still been no official confirmation on which sportsbooks have applied for a license or how many applications have been received. However, based on the various deals that have been signed by sports betting companies, some brands look certain to be part of the new market.
As mentioned above, TwinSpires have partnered with the Tonto Apache Tribe. Other companies who have signed up with local casino operators include Unibet, who have struck a deal with the Quechan Tribe, WynnBet, who have signed up with the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and PointsBet, through their arrangement with the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
Other operators seem likely to set up in Arizona through partnerships with sports franchises and venues within the state boundaries. Caesars has linked up with MLB franchise Arizona Diamondbacks, FanDuel has signed with NBA Finals contender Phoenix Suns, and BallyBet has partnered with the WNBA franchise Phoenix Mercury.
Barstool Sportsbook seems likely to gain a foothold in the Grand Canyon state through their deal with the NASCAR venue Phoenix Raceway, while DraftKings has struck an innovative partnership with PGA Tour venue TPC Scottsdale, which hosts the Waste Management Phoenix Open.