Vegas Avoidance: Arizonans Can Bet From Their Own State Soon

Johnny Avello has lived in Las Vegas since 1979, and has long seen the flood of Arizonans make the trek to Sin City.

It’s no coincidence that many of those excursions happened during the Super Bowl, March Madness or other hot spots on the sports calendar, so Arizonans could get their betting fix.

Vegas may still be an ideal vacation spot for some, but when it comes to sports gambling, it’s no longer mandatory. Sports betting will be legalized in Arizona on Sept. 9.

“Now they get to do it within their own state,” Avello, DraftKings’ Director of Race and Sportsbook Operations, told “They don’t have to leave. It’s actually better than the way Las Vegas does sports wagering, as far as doing it on the digital side. In Las Vegas, you have to go into a bricks-and-mortar to apply and fund it. With this, you can do it all from the convenience of your home, or wherever you are.”

Avello is a big proponent of mobile betting. Some states make bettors wager in physical locations, but sports betting apps will make it a breeze to put some skin in the game in Arizona.

“A bricks-and-mortar location, even though they’re fun and imperative to have, people have to travel to get to those locations,” Avello said. “Sometimes people don’t have the time to go to a place to make a bet.”

While sports betting won’t be operational for a couple more weeks, Daily Fantasy Sports goes live on Saturday at 12:01 a.m. in Arizona. It’s different from sports betting, as players choose from a pool of options but must remain under a salary cap. There is an entry fee, and then the users that select the best performers win money.

“The two work a little differently, but they are both entertaining,” Avello said. “The one has big prize money to offer and the other you can do a single bet, a parlay or what-have-you.”

Arizona boasts all four major sports and two big colleges, which Avello believes will help drive interest in sports betting.

“Even if you haven’t made a wager, you’re familiar with people talking about gambling on games,” Avello said. “I think a big state like Arizona that has these teams, people are very aware of the gambling aspect. Will people bet on the local teams? They probably will, but in some instances they won’t. If they feel like the local team is prepared for the game and going into the game right, they might. If a local team is going bad, they may go against them or may lay off the games entirely. They’re not going to bet them every week just because they live here.”

DraftKings will have a physical sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale, which is home to the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Those plans are still in the works, though Avello said the preliminary thought is to place the retail location near the 18th hole.

Avello has been in the sports betting industry for decades and knows the ins and outs, but realizes there is a wide swath of Arizonans who are new to the scene, so he has a tip.

“It’s good to get an idea of how the app works, navigate around and play in free pools,” Avello said. “And then when you do start wagering, just be knowledgeable of what you’re wagering. There is so much on there that sometimes it can get a little confusing, the amount of content. Wager on what you’re familiar with and then expand from there.”

As for his betting advice? Avello believes a solid philosophy is to place futures bets early, before several games worth of data causes the odds to shift.

“Teams like the Chiefs and the Bucs have taken the most money to win the Super Bowl, but those are the shortest odds,” Avello said. “I always say, whether it’s now before the season starts or shortly after the season starts, that’s when you start looking for pro football and college football. Get yourself some good value, because if you wait until the last third of the season, we have a good idea of what teams are really good and what teams are really bad.”

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