Why Arizona Sports Betting Has Had A Really Good Week So Far

Written By Brant James on April 14, 2021 - Last Updated on August 11, 2021

Arizona’s journey to legal sports betting is nearly complete.

Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to soon sign a bill that would legalize sports betting, daily fantasy sports, Keno and mobile draw. This is prime news for a state of 7.5 million residents, NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL franchises and two Pac-12 athletic programs.

The Arizona Senate passed HB 2772 (an identical bill to SB 1797) on April 12 under an emergency clause that required a two-thirds vote but would allow immediate implementation with the governor’s signature. Twenty sportsbook licenses would be issued.

Details of the Arizona sports betting bill

A key facet of the bill is the reworking of the Tribal compact that was set to expire in 2022. State General Counsel Anni Foster said in committee testimony that Arizona’s sports betting bills were a result of the work to update the compacts.

The new Arizona sports betting law would grant Tribes the ability to expand their existing casinos and open new ones in the sprawling metropolitan Phoenix area. One tribe is also pushing to add a venue in Tucson. Tribes would also be able to offer a new assortment of games to add to their current offering of cards. The new menu could include craps, baccarat and roulette. 

Betting on college teams like Arizona and Arizona State would be allowed, but prop bets would be prohibited.

As with most states that legalize sports betting, getting ahead of the lucrative NFL betting season is the goal.

Operators’ revenue would be taxed at an 8% rate. They will incur a relatively inexpensive $150,000 annual fee – it’s $10 million, once in Pennsylvania – and revenues will feed the state general fund.

HB 2772 resembles sports betting legislation in numerous other states by allowing professional teams to open sports betting venues in their arenas.

How the 20 AZ sports betting licenses would be divided:

 10 – mobile/retail licenses for Tribal operators. One license would cover operators with multiple retail sportsbooks. Tribal gaming leaders said in testimony that not all of the 23 federally recognized tribes in the state would seek sports betting licenses. According to the state Department of Gaming, 16 tribes operate 25 casinos in the state now.

10 – licenses for Arizona-based sports teams with the right to open sportsbooks in their venues. Pro teams came out strong in support of the bill, with the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Coyotes, Phoenix Raceway and the PGA Tour throwing in support. Former Coyote Shane Doan even got a Twitter shoutout from the bill’s Senate sponsor T.J. Shope. These sportsbooks would have a five-block exclusivity zone. With licenses leftover, pari-mutuel and off-track facilities could also apply.

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What sportsbooks will come to Arizona?

DraftKings didn’t even wait for the governor’s signature to announce plans. The Boston-based company will expand on its existing relationship with the PGA Tour to gain market access and open a high-end retail sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale, all pending regulatory approvals.

A lobbyist testified on behalf of BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel during legislative hearings and it stands to reason that many national brands would look to expand their reach into Arizona sports betting.

With 20 potential partnerships available, there seems to be room for most, and the pro teams located in Phoenix would figure to begin amassing official sports betting partners like their counterparts in the growing collection of sports betting states around the nation.

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Brant James

Brant James is a veteran journalist who has twice been recognized in the Associated Press Sports Editors Awards, most recently in 2020. He's covered motorsports, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball among a myriad of others beats and written enterprise and sports business for publications including USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com.

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