Two years after sports betting was legalized in Arizona, operators previously shut out of the state will now have a chance to offer wagering as the Arizona Department of Gaming announced that it will reopen the application process.
When sports betting was legalized in April 2021, the Arizona legislature capped the number of event wagering licenses at 20 — 10 each for the state’s tribes and pro teams. Two of the licenses tied to professional sports teams were left unclaimed, while all 10 tribal licenses were awarded.
Since then, the landscape has changed, with several operators going under and others merging, leaving the Ak-Chin Tribe, which initially partnered for digital betting with Fubo Sportsbook, without a partner. The Ak-Chin Tribe, partnered with Harrah’s (Caesars) for retail sports betting, no longer appears on the ADG page as being licensed.
The new landscape could present an opportunity for Fanatics Sportsbook, which is in the process of acquiring PointsBet, to gain access to the state. The first portion of the deal is set to close Aug. 31. PointsBet has a partnership with the Yavapai-Apache Nation, which initially was awarded an Arizona license that was rescinded in 2021. The reason given at the time was an “administrative error.”
Who could qualify?
The big question is which professional sports teams not currently licensed in Arizona will meet the criteria set out by the 2021 law and regulations? Every major professional sports team, plus the PGA Tour, NASCAR, and the Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers, is currently licensed.
Among those that could apply, apparently, are the USL’s Phoenix Rising or FC Tucson, both of which offer professional soccer at the highest level available in the state. Some stakeholders also argue that Cactus League teams could meet the criteria. Fifteen Major League Baseball teams call Arizona home for about two months every spring, and there are 10 Cactus League baseball parks spread around the Phoenix area.
Who is interested may become more clear July 17, when the ADG hosts an informational webinar for prospective applicants. Applications will be posted on the regulator’s site July 14, and the application window is set for Aug. 1-15. The ADG has not indicated how long the application process will take or when it would award licenses. In 2021, the agency went from legal to live — which included developing regulations — in five months.