It’s been a whirlwind four months for the prospect of sports gambling in Arizona, and the finish line is close.
The legalization of daily fantasy sports and event wagering was passed in April, and the state is on the precipice of going live. Daily fantasy sports and contests became operational on August 28, and sports betting is set to become legal on Thursday, the first day of the NFL regular season.
When Arizonans gambled in the past, it was with unregulated offshore betting sites. Now everything will be above board.
“I think it’s good to have this regulated,” Arizona Department of Gaming spokesman Maxwell Hartgraves told Compare.bet. “Without a doubt, there was unregulated sports betting in the U.S. To have it regulated, it protects the consumer. They’re getting the correct product and they’re not getting cheated out of their money. You wouldn’t be able to guarantee that otherwise.”
See you soon, Arizona! 🌵 pic.twitter.com/94XjOgP1eK
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) August 26, 2021
Eight professional sports organizations and ten tribes were allocated sports betting licenses in Arizona. Here is the list of the teams and their affiliated operators:
- Arizona Cardinals/BetMGM
- Arizona Diamondbacks/Caesars Sportsbook
- Phoenix Suns/FanDuel
- Arizona Coyotes
- Phoenix Mercury/Ballys
- Arizona Rattlers/Bet Rivers
- Phoenix Raceway/Barstool
- TPC Scottsdale/DraftKings
These are the 10 tribes/casinos that were allocated licenses:
- Fort Mojave Indian Tribe/SuperBook Sports
- Navajo Nation
- Quechan Tribe/Unibet Arizona
- Tonto Apache Tribe/Churchill Downs
- Tohono O’odham Nation
- Hualapai Tribe/Golden Nugget
- Ak-Chin Indian Community
- San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe/Digital Gaming
- San Carlos Apache Tribe/Wynn
- Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation
The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe filed a lawsuit to delay the start of sports betting in Arizona last week, but a judge ruled against it on Monday. A study by a joint legislative budget committee believes sports betting revenue will reach $154.4 million per year when it becomes fully operational in Arizona.
Hartgraves said there has been a surging level of intrigue surrounding sports gambling as Arizonans learned about the upcoming changes in legality.
“Oh, totally,” Hartgraves said. “Since the bill was passed back in April, it’s definitely been on the public’s interest. We’ve gotten plenty of contacts about it, and as we move closer, it’s clearly increased.”
Single-game sports betting outside of Nevada was illegal in the United States until the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in May of 2018. Delaware and New Jersey quickly legalized sports gambling, and many others have soon followed.
Sign of the times: BetMGM announced today a partnership with the Arizona Cardinals for retail and online sports betting.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 9, 2021
Arizona is next up, and the Department of Gaming is comfortable with the current schedule despite a hectic few months of preparation.
“Without a doubt it was a huge challenge, especially doing it on such a tight timetable that we had,” Hartgraves said. “That said, at the Department of Gaming we do have experience in the gambling industry. A lot of our investigators have been working in Tribal Gaming for a long time. Obviously while there are some large differences between the two, the crossover is pretty similar. That really helped. We had the experience, and we brought in some new people for event wagering specifically, so that helped. While it was a huge challenge, it’s gone really well. As we approach this go-live date, we’ve done it successfully so far, and I suspect we will going forward.”
Hartgraves said a major benefit of regulation is the ability to help those with gambling problems.
“You are expanding gambling in the state, so it’s important to address the problem gambling aspect, which our department already does through our Division of Problem Gambling,” Hartgraves said.
It’s going to be a whole new world, as fans may soon be keeping an eye on not just the team that wins, but point spreads and scoring totals.
“We’re just excited to see Arizonans able to wager on these games, hopefully responsibly,” Hartgraves said. “We’re excited for this new change.”