One minute after midnight, event wagering went live Thursday in Arizona. DraftKings, FanDuel, and WynnBet — the only operator partnered with a tribe to go live — launched digital platforms, officially making Arizona the biggest state in the West to offer statewide mobile wagering in the post-PASPA era.
The launch was one of three in different states on the first day of the 2021 NFL season. One tribe in Washington State opened its doors for in-person betting and BetMGM was among the first South Dakota operators to take a bet. Both of those states allow for wagering at brick-and-mortar facilities only.
Counting Wyoming, where digital-only sports betting went live Sept. 1, four new states have opened operations in newly legal states in the last eight days, bringing the number of live betting states in the U.S. to 24 plus the District of Columbia. The next expected launch will be in Connecticut, while operators and lawmakers in Florida, Louisiana, and Maryland are all aiming to go live before the Super Bowl, by which mobile betting might also begin in New York.
Ducey celebrates at ribbon cuttings
The Arizona launches included myriad offers — as much a $1,000 risk-free bet in some cases — and plenty of enthusiasm in Phoenix and on Twitter. Gov. Doug Ducey started his day with a ribbon-cutting at Chase Field, where Caesars Thursday morning opened a series of temporary in-person betting locations — in addition to launching its mobile platform — ahead of debuting its permanent physical sportsbook in early 2022. The governor, who pushed for the tribal compacts and law that legalized event wagering, planned to visit the FanDuel Sportsbook at Footprint Center later Thursday for another ribbon-cutting and the first NFL watch party of the 2021 season.
Sports betting in Arizona means new jobs, more tourism and increased tax revenues that will benefit the whole state. I’m thrilled to join the @DBacks, @CaesarsSports, industry leaders and community members for the #CaesarsSportsbook ribbon cutting at the old ticketing window! pic.twitter.com/Rqn2bB1v9Z
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) September 9, 2021
Barstool Sportsbook, Caesars also launched digital platforms Thursday morning, giving bettors in Arizona six choices. The Arizona Department of Gaming also approved Kindred’s Unibet to go live Thursday, which it did Thursday afternoon, raising the total to seven. The company is partnered with the Fort Yuma Quechan Tribe.
“Arizona’s passion for sports is unmatched, and through our great partnership with the Quechan Tribe, we’re excited to first provide a mobile sportsbook experience for sports fans of all levels with retail to follow.,” SVP of Kindred US Manuel Stan said via press release. “The partnership is one we look forward to building on long-term, with the opportunity to expand into California when the market regulates.”
While there was much celebrating and excitement at the Phoenix sports venues, Arizona’s tribes were unable to open their brick-and-mortar sportsbooks or launch digital platforms for use on reservation on Thursday. On-reservation gaming is dictated by the tribal-state compacts, and according to the ADG, the tribes only recently finalized the appendix section of the compacts. Each tribe must then sign off on the appendix for it to become operational. The tribes — and their operating partners, suppliers, and vendors — cannot ship in hardware and software needed to launch until the appendices are signed.
A taste of the excitement
Twitter was alive just after midnight as sportsbooks announced launches and bettors offered commentary. Below is a look at some tweets that offer a flavor of the day, starting with a hilarious (and kind of bizarre?) image from Barstool Sportsbook:
We’ve got a Bowl in Arizona and now a Sportsbook in Arizona. Arizona is officially a barstool state pic.twitter.com/ysQPUgY7kD
— The Barstool Arizona Bowl (@BarstoolBowlAZ) September 9, 2021
First three to go live at 12:01 a.m.
Arizona’s first bet: A bettor put $10 on Bucs +73 😂
If…or when the bet wins, the bet would payout $19.09. pic.twitter.com/6XZmoyNiFm
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) September 9, 2021
🏜 𝗔 𝗥 𝗜 𝗭 𝗢 𝗡 𝗔 🏜
We have OFFICIALLY arrived 🤑
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) September 9, 2021
— Seth Medvin (@SethMedvinPR) September 9, 2021
A look inside
— Caesars Sportsbook (@CaesarsSports) September 9, 2021
🔹 40 HD TVs
🔹 35-foot video wall
🔹 26 self-service kiosks
🔹 5 betting windows
🔹 And so much more
See it for yourself, doors open at 9 a.m. today 👀
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) September 9, 2021
Welcome to the show, Arizona! 🌵
— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) September 9, 2021