With sports betting nearly legal in Arizona — we’re all really just waiting for Gov. Doug Ducey, who authored the legislation to sign the bill — one of the pressing questions is this: Which operators will find access into the state? At this point, it appears four national companies — BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and William Hill — have already secured deals for market access through either tribal deals or commercial partners.
The new law will allow for a maximum of 20 retail/mobile licenses tethered to either professional sports facilities or tribal casinos, as well as an additional 10 retail licenses for racetracks. Of the 20 retail/mobile licenses, it is possible that only 17 will immediately be used — 10 for tribal casinos, and one each for the NFL Arizona Cardinals, NBA Phoenix Suns, MLB Arizona Diamondbacks, NHL Phoenix Coyotes, NASCAR’s Phoenix Raceway, the PGA Tour’s TPC Scottsdale, and possibly the Phoenix Rising, should the team meet its goal to join Major League Soccer.
Multiple sources have confirmed that BetMGM will gain access through a tribal partner, the Gila River River Indian Community, which owns and operates the Lone Butte, Vee Quiva, and Wild Horse Pass casinos located in suburban Phoenix. BetMGM did not confirm the deal, and the company’s February 2021 quarterly report does not show market access in Arizona. A BetMGM spokesperson did say he could not officially comment regarding Arizona, but indicated that details of a deal were “coming soon.”
Should the deal with the Gila River Indian Community play out, BetMGM would have a strong retail presence in Phoenix, where both DraftKings and FanDuel already have partners.
Another first for DraftKings
Last year, FanDuel became the first operator to secure market access when it announced a deal with the Suns. and on April 15, the company officially announced its sports betting and daily fantasy partnership with the Suns and plans to open a “luxury” sportsbook at the team’s arena. According to a press release, FanDuel plans to have the book open for the start of the 2021-22 NBA season. The 6,300-square foot space will be open daily and will include lounge seating, teller windows, kiosks, and video features.
“This is a watershed moment for the Suns organization and our fans,” said Phoenix Suns President & CEO Jason Rowley. “FanDuel is the perfect partner as our missions are fully aligned. Simply put, FanDuel is committed to making sports more exciting while the Suns are focused on delivering exciting sports and entertainment and engaging fans at the highest level possible.”
A day earlier, DraftKings announced that is has secured market access via a national deal with the PGA, making it the second operator to partner with a pro league in the state. Through its deal, DraftKings has plans to build a sportsbook on the grounds at TPC Scottsdale as well as launch a digital platform.
WELCOME ABOARD ARIZONA
They are legalizing mobile online sports betting & in stadium sportsbooks #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/wu8XIRfrUH
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) April 13, 2021
“When DraftKings became the first Official Betting Operator of the PGA TOUR last summer, a number of possibilities opened up to innovate together,” Ezra Kucharz, chief business officer at DraftKings, said via press release. “This momentous effort to pursue a first-of-its-kind sportsbook with the PGA TOUR is a testament to the vision of both organizations that we believe will ultimately benefit Arizona sports fans who want to legally bet on sports.”
The sportsbook will likely be the first at a PGA Tour stop anywhere in the U.S.
National sportsbook operator William Hill appears to have access secured through the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, also in suburban Phoenix. William Hill runs sportsbooks for Caesars, which owns the Harrah’s brand. Sources also say there is a possibility that William Hill will seek a partnership with a pro sports team, possibly the Coyotes.
Who will Phoenix Raceway partner with?
Both WynnBet and Penn National (Barstool Sports) have agreements in place with NASCAR, which could translate into access via Phoenix Raceway. WynnBet became the first operator to go live in partnership with an auto racetrack when it launched its Virginia mobile platform last month and is tethered to Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway.
Any sportsbook that partners with a professional sports team will be entitled to not just one brick-and-mortar location, but two, since the new law allows for a second location either in an “adjacent retail center” or within one-quarter of a mile from the sports complex. Both Chase Field (Diamondbacks) and the Phoenix Suns Arena are located in downtown Phoenix, while State Farm Stadium (Cardinals) and Gila River Arena (Coyotes) are adjacent to a shopping mall in Glendale.