The State of Arizona Legalizes Online Sports Betting

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03 May 2021 10:59
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All of a sudden, a gaggle of states have found for legal online sports betting. Hot on the heels of New York and Wyoming legalizing online sports betting, the Grand Canyon State of Arizona is set to welcome online sports betting as early as this fall.

Governor Doug Ducey recently signed into Arizona State Law HB 2772, which legalizes online and land-based retail sports betting alongside a 20-year extension to the tribal gaming compacts and the added bonus of permitting under law, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), mobile lottery draw games and online keno games.

“There’s no question that Arizona has grown and changed significantly since the last major compact update in 2003,” Governor Ducey said. “It’s important that we account for these changes in our policies and our compacts.”

What is covered under the new Arizona law in detail?

The new Arizona sports betting legalization law covers 20 total licenses to be awarded for online sports betting operators (10 licenses for Indian tribes and 10 licenses put aside for professional sports facilities and franchises).

Arizona currently boasts a total of 6 professional sports franchises and facilities that appear set to host online sports betting licenses including;

  • NFL franchise – the Arizona Cardinals
  • NHL team – the Arizona Coyotes
  • The Phoenix Suns of the NBA
  • Major League Baseball franchise, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
  • The Phoenix Raceway; and
  • TPC Scottsdale, an affiliate of Golf’s PGA Tour.

The six sports organizations could all potentially open sportsbooks as early as this coming fall. The other four licenses that are also set aside for professional sports groups could theoretically go to another team or league that will host a franchise in the state, such as Soccer’s MLS. It has been reported in some media that the city of Phoenix is allegedly in the mix to be voted in as 30th franchise for the MLS.

The center piece of the Arizona franchise, team-based sports betting model is also in-stadium land-based betting. Washington D.C.’s Capital One Arena boasts the nation’s only current operating in-stadium retail sportsbook in “Big Four” professional team sports venues. Illinois State law also allows for in-stadium sportsbooks and Virginia laws allow for land-based sportsbook locations at auto sports (NASCAR) venues. Maryland also recently passed an in-stadium wagering bill that could also be up-and-running by the fall, just like Arizona.

Each of the professional sports and facilities wagering operators will be able to partner with an online sportsbook operator to offer state-wide online sports betting on behalf of its licensee.

All approved and licensed Arizona online sportsbooks will be required to use official league data to settle “live” wagers (commonly referred as “in-play” wagers). Most significantly in Arizona’s law (and making it quite different to laws in other states), the professional sports leagues are expressly allowed to share in the handle from the sports betting operators without any need for a gaming license or regulatory approval.

Sports Betting Operators already announcing deals in Arizona

FanDuel was one of the first online sportsbooks to announce its avenue for entry into the Arizona sports betting market after announcing a deal with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. As part of its deal, FanDuel will offer a bricks-and-mortar sportsbook inside the Phoenix Suns Arena, expected to be opened in time for the start of the 2021-22 NBA season in October 2021.

Meanwhile, DraftKings and the PGA Tour have declared that they are extending their existing commercial relationship to provide DraftKings market access for online sports betting in the Grand Canyon State and a land-based sportsbook location at the TPC Scottsdale Golf Couse. Both deals are, of course, pending regulatory approval by state authorities.

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