Approved Arizona daily fantasy sports operators can go live as early as 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and approved event wagering operators can begin account creation, funding, and marketing at the same time, the Arizona Department of Gaming confirmed Wednesday in the second of three operator meetings ahead of launch.
So far, only two operators, FanDuel and Penn National Gaming, have publicly said they have received licenses. There are 20 event wagering operator licenses available, 10 each earmarked for professional sports teams/franchises and tribal casinos. The ADG announced earlier this month that it had received 16 tribal applications and was working through a list of criteria to determine how to allocate the licenses. The agency has indicated it will alert operators if they are approved or not by Friday, though Harold Wafer, the ADG’s event wagering and fantasy sports administrator, hedged a bit by saying it “should be” by then.
On the pro team/franchise side, the ADG received 10 applications. FanDuel, which is partnered with the Phoenix Suns, and Penn National, which is partnered with Phoenix Raceway and will offer its digital app under its Barstool Sportsbook brand, both have plans to launch digital sports betting as soon as the ADG will allow. Sept. 9 is the target date. Both companies are also building out brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at their respective venues, but do not have hard opening dates for those.
Aaaaand they're at the starting line in Arizona. @FanDuel is partnered with Phoenix Suns and has plans for digital and retail sports betting as well as daily fantasy offerings.https://t.co/k0kfMroxal
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) August 23, 2021
‘Several’ DFS operators have been approved
FanDuel also received approval as a daily fantasy sports operator and has plans to launch Saturday. That kickoff and the opportunity to sign up sports betting customers could allow FanDuel to get a jump on its key competitor, DraftKings, which has not announced that it has been approved for DFS or event wagering. Both FanDuel and Barstool Sports will be able to take advantage of being first to market, which has proven critical to capturing market share.
During the meeting, the ADG announced that “several” DFS approvals have already been allocated, and that in order to go live early Saturday, operators must have fantasy sports contest operator internal controls and house rules approved by 4 p.m. PT Friday. The Saturday go-live date is a starting point; the ADG says it will continue to review paperwork and approve DFS operators.
On the event wagering, or sports betting, side, the ADG repeatedly reminded operators to make sure that suppliers were well into the approval process, as an operator will not get the go-ahead to go live unless all of its suppliers are approved. Given the number and types of questions, it appears that multiple major operators are still in the approval process.
Though most operators have suggested they’ll launch mobile ahead of brick-and-mortar wagering, Wafer also alerted operators that they will need to submit a formal invitation to have their retail spaces inspected by the ADG. So far, only Caesars, which is partnered with the Arizona Diamondbacks, has publicly said it will move forward with some sort of in-person wagering on or around Sept. 9. According to an AZFamily.com story, Caesars plans go live with kiosks at Chase Field in September. The company is aiming to launch its digital platform in September as well. Both launches are dependent upon license approval.
How self-exclusion lists will be managed
The meeting opened with discussion about self-exclusion lists. Key questions centered around how the ADG and operators will manage such lists, which the ADG will publish weekly and share with operators. The list will initially be shared with operators via email, and by the end of the month it should be available through a portal on the ADG website. Most questions centered on the format and style in which the lists would be shared and what the operators’ responsibilities will be with regard to enforcing exclusions.
Jay Herychk from the ADG’s problem gaming department fielded said he didn’t believe the expectation was that players would be blocked immediately. He said he would get back to operators on what the time frame might be.