Beginning with Sunday’s 2022 regular season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals fans will be able to do something that no other fan base in the league currently can; place legal in-person wagers on sports while viewing the game. The BetMGM Sportsbook at State Farm Stadium, where Arizona plays its home games, is set to open just hours before the Cardinals face Kansas City.
It’s currently the only retail sportsbook located at an NFL stadium and will forever hold the distinction of being the first. Its debut will also permanently mark quite a shift in the NFL’s policy toward legalized gambling.
BetMGM Sportsbook ready to kick off with the Cardinals
According to a Thursday press release, BetMGM has the on-site sportsbook at State Farm Stadium ready. The plan is to open the new amenity to the public on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 9 a.m. local time. Arizona faces the Chiefs at 1:25 p.m. local time that same day in both teams’ first regular-season game for 2022.
The site of the new book is The Great Lawn and the book’s capacity is 500. In addition to the betting windows, there are over 25 self-service kiosks. The most notable feature is a 265-ft. video wall. There will be nearly 40 other television sets going, however.
Patrons who wish to stick around after placing bets can enjoy beverage and food service. The book will be open year-round at State Farm Stadium, serving as space for live entertainment in the NFL offseasons. Hours for the sportsbook will be 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Fridays then 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
As State Farm Stadium is the site of Super Bowl LVII, this year’s NFL championship game will be the first to take place at a stadium with a sportsbook on-site. BetMGM is set to benefit from all the exposure its partnership with the Cardinals will bring.
While the opening of the first legal sportsbook at an NFL stadium is remarkable on its own, the circumstances of the history make this even more notable. Just five years ago, this was unthinkable.
NFL’s 180 on sports betting
In 2017, if you had suggested to then-Arizona Cardinals primary owner Bill Bidwill he contract with a gambling company to open a sportsbook at the site where the games happen, he might have laughingly dismissed your notion. At that time, sports betting was illegal in most of the United States and the NFL had an official position that preferred it stay that way.
The NFL was actually party to the lawsuit Murphy v. NCAA that overturned the federal law preventing states like Arizona from legalizing sports betting. The league was one of the plaintiffs that sued New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy when the state legalized sports betting and sought to maintain the status quo and keep legal wagering confined to just a few spots in the US.
Since the decision of the US Supreme Court in 2018, the NFL has gradually reversed its position and embraced sports betting. The league has taken sponsorship dollars from gambling companies like BetMGM, naming them sports betting partners, and allowed its member franchises to do the same.
While other NFL stadiums like Empower Field at Mile High already host betting lounges, these are not sportsbooks as there are no betting kiosks or windows there. All wagering at those sites takes place online on bettors’ devices.
Thus, Sunday will mark more than just the start of another NFL season. It will also mark an occasion that further makes the NFL’s prior assertion that sports betting expansion would destroy its business even more disingenuous.