In a move that apparently surprised at least some tribal nations, the Arizona Department of Gaming on Friday morning released another set of proposed event wagering rules that lay out criteria for how the 20 event wagering operator licenses will be allocated.
Arizona has 22 tribal casinos run by 15 gaming tribes, and the new event wagering law allows for 10 licenses for tribes, and an additional 10 for professional sports franchises. It’s been clear throughout the process that there are too few licenses available for tribes and too many for sports franchises, but when the bill was filed, sponsor Rep. Jeff Weninger said the goal was to achieve “parity” between Indian Country and commercial interests.
According to sources, tribes were expecting a lottery system, but instead the ADG outlined 19 criteria that will be used to make the selections.
Not all tribes will get licenses
Almost three months to the day after the legislation was approved and two months before the ADG’s target go-live date, there is more clarity on how licenses will be allocated. But still, some tribes will be left out of event wagering in the biggest state in the West to legalize since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act fell in May 2018. The new law allows for statewide mobile gaming with up to two skins or digital platforms per licensee.
Arizona Regulator: Event Wagering Licensees May Be Able To Have Multiple Platforms https://t.co/vj0q4T9U4R
— Andrew Diss (@AndrewDissNV) July 9, 2021
The ADG released a two-page document ahead of a brief meeting Friday morning. Regulators said they will accept public comment on the proposed allocation process until 11:59 p.m. Friday. Because the new law has an emergency clause attached to it, the department is not required to open extended public-comment periods. In the interest of meeting a Sept. 9 go-live date, it has had abbreviated comment periods throughout the regulatory process.
According to the latest proposal, the ADG will give preference to qualified applicants that have a presence in the state or who will use partners that have a presence in the state. For tribes specifically, the proposed rules say the ADG will give “preference that they be distributed among non-gaming tribes, rural gaming tribes, and to tribes located relatively near metropolitan areas in the State.”
Experience, finances, local contribution
In addition, the ADG will consider:
- “Experience and track record of the proposed event wagering operator, management services provider, or designee both local and international” in the operation of event wagering and in the operation of gaming or related activity
- Contributions to local communities and “willingness and commitment” to make investments in the state
- The standing of the potential operator, management services provider, or designee in other markets
- “Culture of player protection”
- Responsiveness of the company
- Strength of internal controls
- Speed to market
- Financial stability
- “The lack of opportunity to benefit from event wagering type activity in some manner or location without a license”
- If receiving a license will benefit other applicants through partnerships
- How many jobs will be created
- If a potential licensee will “increase the patron base in the state”
The list of criteria apply to any potential licensee, but are especially vital to tribes and their potential operating partners since some will be left out. So far, six operators have announced market access in Arizona: Bally’s (Phoenix Mercury), Caesars (Arizona Diamondbacks and Ak-Chin Indian Community), DraftKings (TPC Scottsdale/PGA), FanDuel (Phoenix Suns), Kindred (Quechan Tribe), and WynnBET (San Carlos Apache Tribe). It’s likely that Penn National and its partner Barstool Sports will gain access through a partnership with NASCAR at Phoenix Raceway.