US Newcomer BlueBet Gets AZ Sports Betting Access

Posted on August 9, 2021
AZ sports betting
Posted By on August 9, 2021

Australia-listed BlueBet is new to the US, hopefully getting a taste of the Southwest first with an AZ sports betting agreement.

The sportsbook operator partnered with the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the BlueWater casino.

There are 20 total licenses available in Arizona. The state’s professional teams and venues, and gaming tribes get 10 licenses each. That means BlueBet likely should get an AZ sports betting license, though it is not guaranteed like its skin agreement in Iowa.

“We hadn’t originally considered Arizona as a first-mover state in our US expansion but our strategy in the US is to be continuously proactively seeking out new opportunities like this to grow our footprint swiftly to take full advantage of this unique green field prospect,” CEO Bill Richmond said.

BlueBet initially called out five states including Iowa before going public:

Can AZ sports betting market show off BlueBet platform?

BlueBet wants its B2C sportsbooks to serve as a proof-of-concept of what its technology can handle. After that, Richmond hopes the company becomes more of a supplier than an operator, he said during BlueBet’s recent earnings update:

“It is very much a two-step strategy to enter as a B2C operator in this limited amount of states and then certainly transitioning to our sportsbook as a solution as our major long-term entry into the US market. The states we do go into as a B2C operator we see it still as an important part of that matrix and can form a nice, small profitable business. But our long-term strategy is certainly very much around the sportsbook as a solution.”

BlueBet went public in July, but will probably need more cash before making a major US splash. Its mix of funds from the IPO and its Australian operations left the company with about $41.5 million as of June 30.

Next US steps

The company did not outline when it might launch in Arizona in its press release. The state is slated to launch Sept. 9. Ten other operators have announced access agreements, the most recent BetMGM and the Arizona Cardinals.

BlueBet expects to launch sports betting in Iowa during the first quarter of calendar 2022. Just do not look for the BlueBet brand.

“As we stated during the prospectus, we’re unlikely to use the BlueBet brand in the US for the obvious divisive nature of ‘blue’ in the US market,” Richmond said.

That’s right: American politics are so volatile that a foreign business does not dare associate itself with a color used by a political party. A new brand to be announced later this quarter will be used for the US.

After announcing the Iowa agreement, the company had talks progress in other states, Richmond added.

Update on Virginia licensing process

The only other place BlueBet has taken action is in Virginia, which is in the process of issuing up to five new sportsbooks.

Virginia is notoriously quiet about its licensing process and who is involved, so any peek behind the curtain is welcome. All that is known right now is that there are 18 applicants for those remaining licenses.

Richmond originally expected an update on the Virginia application in August or September. That might not be the case now:

“I think they’re going to do a staged announcement of licenses. So it won’t be announcing all licenses at one time, it’ll be a staged rollout of that process so it could take slightly longer than we initially suggested. Just a slight difference in how they’re announcing those from how we initially understood.”

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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