More sportsbooks could be on the way as legal Arizona sports betting nears its second anniversary.
The Arizona Department of Gaming opened up an application process Tuesday for three AZ sports betting licenses. The ADG will take bids until August 15 for an open slot reserved for Arizona tribes and two spots saved for professional sports franchises.
Sports betting in Arizona began Sept. 9, 2021.
Why are there open AZ licenses?
Arizona sports betting law created 20 operator licenses: 10 for the state’s tribes and 10 for professional sports organizations. In 2021, the ADG awarded 18 licenses.
All 10 tribal licenses were allocated, but one space opened up when Fubo Sportsbook shut down in late 2022. There were 16 tribal applications during the initial rollout two years ago.
The two sports organization licenses have remained open, as a pair of applicants were denied in 2021. The ADG did not disclose those applicants.
Arizona regulators ready for more applications
The ADG published updated application forms and guidelines July 14. Regulators also hosted an informational webinar July 17.
Once the application period closes August 15, regulators will “thoroughly evaluate all applications received based on the established criteria pursuant to the state’s event wagering rules and statutes.”
The ADG said it will announce any selected operators August 29.
Arizona sports betting license details
Operators pay an $850,000 initial license fee, which is the same cost the original 18 operators paid in 2021. That includes a $100,000 application fee.
An operator also must pay a $150,000 annual renewal fee for the licenses.
What is at stake in Arizona?
The 17 active Arizona sportsbooks took $664.7 million in wagers during March, the second-highest monthly handle since the 2021 launch. The March total was good for No. 7 among US sports betting markets, behind Pennsylvania‘s $723.5 million and ahead of Massachusetts‘s $584.5 million.
Along with the strong March, Arizona operators closed out the first quarter taking $1.84 billion in wagers, a 5.6% jump compared to Q1 in 2022. Operators generated $136.2 million in revenue during the quarter, a 28% increase compared to the same quarter a year prior.
The still-maturing Arizona market likely remains appealing to operators who missed out on a license two years ago.
Impressive action by local operator
Also likely inspiring for operators looking in: homegrown Desert Diamond sportsbook took $1`03.8 million in wagers through the first four months of the year. That handle is 4.4% of the market share, the fifth-highest total by an Arizona sportsbook during the time frame.
Desert Diamond is operated by the Tohono O’odham Nation.
The Desert Diamond performance placed the sportsbook ahead of national brands like Barstool Sportsbook (3.2% market share) and BetRivers (1% market share). Still, FanDuel and DraftKings controlled 65% of the handle during the four-month period.
Big sportsbooks circling Arizona?
Two sportsbooks to keep an eye on in Arizona are bet365 and Fanatics Sportsbook. Both operators have the potential to shake up the US sports betting industry and need access to Arizona.
Fanatics’s recent acquisition of PointsBet could revive an application from the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Other operators with potential nationwide sports betting ambitions include:
Circa Sports also could have interest in Arizona, as its flagship Las Vegas resort is just a few hours from Phoenix.
Tribes missed out on first sports betting round
There are 22 Arizona tribes, 16 of them with gaming operations.
Since the first round of applications, MaximBet also joined Fubo Sportsbook on the sports betting operator scrap heap. Fubo Sportsbook partner Ak-Chin Indian Community could find a new operator and reapply, as could MaximBet’s tribal partner, the White Mountain Apache.
The Colorado River Indian Tribes joined up with BlueBet for an application. Not all of the six failed tribal applicants were announced.
What teams could qualify for Arizona sportsbooks?
The four major professional leagues are already represented with Arizona sports betting licenses, as well as NASCAR and the PGA Tour. The WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers also received licenses.
A spokesperson for the ADG said the regulatory agency does not predetermine or speculate on qualified applicants. Arizona sports betting law does specify “baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, soccer and motorsports” at “the highest level.”
The Rattlers license suggests the IFL’s Northern Arizona Wranglers and Tucson Sugar Skulls could qualify. USL team Phoenix Rising FC applied for a license in 2021 and told The Arizona Republic it intends to apply this cycle. However, the USL is a level below Major League Soccer, which might not qualify it for “the highest level” stipulated in the law.
Another Arizona license open in the future?
In 2022, Churchill Downs Inc. announced it was exiting the online sports betting space and shut down its TwinSpires Sportsbook app in seven states. TwinSpires Racing remains the focus of CDI’s online efforts.
The operator, however, is still live online in Arizona through its partnership with the Tonto Apache Tribe.
CDI representatives did not respond to inquiries regarding the future of TwinSpires in Arizona.
Active Arizona sportsbooks
There are 17 operators taking online wagers in Arizona. Those are:
- Bally Bet (partnered with the Phoenix Mercury)
- Barstool Sportsbook (partnered with Phoenix Raceway)
- Betfred (partnered with the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation)
- BetMGM (partnered with the Arizona Cardinals and Gila River Hotels & Casinos)
- BetRivers (partnered with the Arizona Rattlers)
- Betway (partnered with the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe)
- Caesars (partnered with the Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Desert Diamond (operated by the Tohono O’odham Nation)
- DraftKings (partnered with the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open)
- FanDuel (partnered with the Phoenix Suns)
- Golden Nugget (partnered with the Hualapai Tribe)
- Hard Rock Sportsbook (partnered with the Navajo Nation)
- Sahara Bets (operated by the Arizona Coyotes)
- SuperBook (partnered with the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe)
- TwinSpires (partnered with the Tonto Apache Tribe)
- Unibet (partnered with the Fort Yuma-Quechan Tribe)
- WynnBet (partnered with the San Carlos Apache Tribe)