FanDuel Sportsbook at Footprint Center

Stretching over 7,400 square feet, including an outdoor terrace, the FanDuel Sportsbook at Footprint Center will be fans’ one-stop-shop to enjoy Suns games and other sporting events around the world while placing wagers on the action. The sportsbook will feature five betting windows, and one VIP window, 40 HD televisions, a 35-foot video wall, an MVP Room and 26 self-service betting kiosks. The FanDuel Sportsbook will be open daily for patrons to place wagers on a wide variety of events throughout the year.  

As companies like CaesarsFanDuel, and Penn National Gaming build out sportsbooks at professional sports venues across the Phoenix area, it’s no secret that sports betting is coming. And when it does, Arizona will be the biggest state in the West to launch live sports betting since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amatuer Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018. 

The Arizona Department of Gaming is targeting the first day of the NFL season, Sept. 9, to launch the first operators -- and according to industry sources, many of the biggest, most well-known sports betting operators will be offering odds and taking bets. The Cardinals first game is set for Sept. 12 at the Tennessee Titans. 

The Arizona launch is poised to be the fourth in the U.S. this year -- unless either Wyoming or South Dakota, both which are also moving toward offering live sports betting, get there first. In January, operators went live online in both Michigan and Virginia, and two North Carolina tribal casinos began taking bets in March. 

Only a last-minute effort by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe stood in the way of sports betting going live that day. A hearing on a request for an emergency injunction was scheduled for Sept. 3, past The Entertainer’s print deadline.

Assuming the judge does not grant the request, Arizona is poised to become the biggest state in the West to launch live sports betting since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amatuer Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018.

The Arizona Department of Gaming is targeting the first day of the NFL season to launch the first operators. Many of the biggest, most well-known sports betting operators will be offering odds and taking bets.

 The Arizona launch will be the fourth in the U.S. this year – unless either Wyoming or South Dakota, both which are also moving toward offering live sports betting, get there first.

In January, operators went live online in both Michigan and Virginia, and two North Carolina tribal casinos began taking bets in March.

As legal sports betting has spread from Nevada to more than 30 other U.S. jurisdictions in the last three years, the western states have been a little behind the curve, and where sports betting is available, it’s not widely available. Lawmakers in Washington State legalized sports betting in March 2020 at brick-and-mortar locations only. The state regulator expects the first bets to be taken before the end of 2021.

Live wagering west of the Mississippi is up and running in six states. In-person wagering is currently available at a handful of tribal sportsbooks in Oregon and New Mexico as well as at lottery-run kiosks throughout Montana, and in-person at handful of Arkansas venues. Consumers can wager on professional sports online/mobile in Oregon via the state’s lottery platform. Statewide mobile wagering is available in ColoradoIowa, and Nevada, but

the Arizona launch represents only the third new open, competitive marketplace west of the Mississippi since PAPSA was overturned. 

Big population excites operators

With a population of just over seven million, Arizona will be the biggest western state to open for sports betting by a longshot. It doesn’t hurt that the state is home to a professional sports team from each of the four major leagues, hosts NASCAR events, is a PGA Tour stop, and has a passionate college football fanbase. 

“We are very excited about the future in Arizona. During the NBA playoffs, the world learned that the state has one of the most passionate fan bases in the country,” Matt Prevost, Chief Revenue Officer at BetMGM said. “With that comes a lot of expectations and we look forward to delivering an above-and-beyond sports betting experience with unique mobile and retail activations throughout the state.” 

Arizona’s new law allows for a maximum 20 “event wagering operator” licenses, divided evenly among tribal casinos and professional sports teams/franchises. Those with a license will be able to operate at least one retail sportsbook and up to two digital platforms. There are an additional 10 retail-only licenses available for the state’s horse racetracks and OTBs. 

In all, eight sports organizations have received licenses. So too have 10 Arizona tribes after beating out six other tribes that had been competing for licenses.

“We are very excited about the future in Arizona. During the NBA playoffs, the world learned that the state has one of the most passionate fan bases in the country,” Matt Prevost, chief revenue officer at BetMGM said.

BetMGM has formed a partnership with the Arizona Cardinals. It also had partnered with the Gila River Indian Community, which did not win a license to operate a mobile sports betting service.

 However, Arizona Gaming Department spokesman Maxwell Hartgraves said all tribes can offer sports betting at their casinos.

 The amended Tribal-State gaming compacts that were signed by Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Tribes earlier this year included the ability for tribes to offer a variety of new casino games such as craps and roulette as well as sports betting, Hartgraves said.

“With that comes a lot of expectations and we look forward to delivering an above-and-beyond sports betting experience with unique mobile and retail activations throughout the state,” Prevost said.

Arizona’s new law allows for a maximum 20 “event wagering operator” licenses, divided evenly among tribal casinos and professional sports teams/franchises.

 Those with a license will be able to operate at least one retail sportsbook and up to two digital platforms. There are an additional 10 retail-only licenses available for the state’s horse racetracks and OTBs.

Consumers will be able to wager on professional, college, and Olympic sports. The new law is broad enough that operators may ultimately be able to offer betting on things like the Academy Awards, Heisman Trophy, and other events that are not specifically tied to sports.

Major operators have partners

While Arizona will ultimately offer consumers myriad choices in who to bet with, the design of the law means that some tribal casinos won’t be able to offer sports betting.

According to the ADG, 16 tribes applied for licenses, but under the law, there are only 10 available. On the pro sports side, there are seven teams/franchises that clearly fit the bill, but the ADG said it got 10 applications. The agency said it will let those who are approved for licenses know by Aug. 27. 

At a meeting on Aug. 24, the ADG confirmed that approved daily fantasy operators can go live as early at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 28. Those that are licensed must also have received approval for internal controls and house rules from the ADG by 4 p.m. PT Aug. 27. In addition, approved event wagering operators can begin offering consumers the chance to create and fund accounts beginning at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 28. Approved operators can also begin marketing to consumers at that time. 

So far, BeetMGM, FanDuel, and Penn National Gaming, which operates digitally as Barstool Sportsbook, say they received license approval. BetMGM is partnered with the Arizona Cardinals on the sports side and Gila River Casinos on the tribal side.

FanDuel, which was also approved as a daily fantasy sports operator, is partnered with the Phoenix Suns. Penn National Gaming is partnered with Phoenix Raceway. 

You’ll be able to bet at the stadium

Operators have plans for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at professional venues -- and some are also entitled to open a second location within a set distance of the stadium. FanDuel has already released renderings of a modern, state-of-the-art facility in the works at the Footprint Center while Caesars has plans to begin offering in-person wagering via kiosks at Chase Field as soon as possible. For the most part, operators plan to launch their mobile platforms on Sept. 9 with brick-and-mortar locations to follow. 

Sports betting companies partnered with tribes have been mostly mum about their license status, and the ADG is not releasing a list of applicants. The ADG said it would alert tribes by Aug. 16 if they made the first cut to be considered for a license. Industry sources say PointsBets’ partner the Yavapi-Apache Nation, which owns and operates the Cliff Castle Casino, made the first cut. It’s not clear how many of the other 15 also made the cut, but a total of nine tribes, including the Gila River Indian Community, have already announced sports betting partners. 

Arizona is among the first U.S. jurisdictions in which sportsbooks will exist at professional sports venues. Washington D.C.’s Capital One Arena became the first pro venue in the country to accept wagers when it began doing so in the summer of 2020. And as of now, only Washington, D.C., IllinoisMaryland, and Arizona allow for sportsbooks in arenas. There are currently two open in Washington, since the BetMGM began accepting bets at Nationals Field earlier this year. 

 Jill R. Dorson is the managing editor at sportshandle.com, a national sports betting website that focuses on sports betting legislation and regulation. Dorson is a longtime newspaper sportswriter who covered everything from high school sports to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, but her specialty now is how sports betting is getting legalized and how it operates in different states across the U.S.  

 

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