On Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Gaming announced that it received 25 event wagering operator license applications, but that it has only 20 it can issue. Under the state’s new gaming law, the ADG can issue 10 licenses to professional sports franchises and another 10 to tribes. The ADG said it received 10 applications from pro sports teams/franchises and 15 from tribes, but it did not release who applied.
The application window closed Monday and, according to the ADG calendar, the agency will announce by Aug. 16 which applicants are qualified for licenses. From there, the ADG then has 10 days to determine which entities will be licensed and which will not.
In July, the agency detailed how it would allocate licenses in the event that there were more applications than licenses. Among the guidelines for selection are having a presence in the state, prior experience, speed to market, and plans for contributions to the state (beyond paying taxes). For tribes, the agency 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.”
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Gila River Casinos seem to fit the bill
That last line points to Gila River Casinos, which on Aug. 9 announced a partnership with BetMGM and the Arizona Cardinals, being among the tribes that would be licensed. The tribe has three casinos in metro Phoenix, with plans for a fourth. Also on Monday, Australian-based BlueBet announced market access via the Blue Water Resort and Casino, which is owned and operated by the Colorado River Tribes, a consortium of four Arizona tribal nations.
Wednesday, BetFred became the latest operator to gain access via a partnership with the Fort McDowell Yavapi Nation.
In total, eight tribes have announced partners. The others are the Fort Yuma Quechan Tribe (Kindred/Unibet), Yavapi-Apache Nation (PointsBet), Tonto-Apache Tribe (TwinSpires), and San Carlos Apache Tribe (WynnBET). The Ak-Chin Indian Community has an existing deal with Harrah’s, a Caesars brand.
Australian outfit strikes deal to enter Arizona… had recently secured skin agreement in Iowa.
— Alfonso Straffon 🇨🇷🇺🇸🇲🇽 (@astraffon) August 10, 2021
On the commercial side, all of the obvious pro sports franchises, with the exception of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, have announced partners. Among the other three major professional leagues — as well as NASCAR, the PGA, and the WNBA — there are six pro entities that have announced partners:
- Bally’s and WNBA Mercury
- Barstool Sportsbook and NASCAR/Phoenix Raceway
- BetMGM and NFL Cardinals
- Caesars and MLB Diamondbacks
- DraftKings and PGA/TPC Scottsdale
- FanDuel and NBA Suns
Soccer, tennis, golf venues possible?
Industry sources say the Coyotes plan to move forward independently, likely with a white-label platform provider like Kambi or Scientific Games, while the branding would exclusively be the hockey team’s.
The question is what three other pro sports franchises meet the criteria to qualify for a license? Arizona does not have a Major League Soccer team, but the USL’s Phoenix Rising, which plays at The Park in Chandler, could potentially meet the definition of a pro sports franchise competing at the “highest level” offered in the state.
It’s also possible that Phoenix Country Club, which hosts an ATP Challenger event, is trying for a license, or maybe the LPGA has plans to return to the state, which would allow the host club to apply.