Arizona Gaming Regulators Still Sifting Through Sportsbook Licenses

Posted on September 22, 2021
1
Written By on September 22, 2021

Arizona sportsbooks appear to be off to a roaring start, though some have yet to launch.

With TwinSpires launching last week, just eight of the possible 18 Arizona online sportsbooks are live. Arizona sports betting opened Sept. 9.

The Arizona Department of Gaming is still working to approve the rest of the sportsbook licenses awarded last month.

“We’re definitely busy, maybe not as much as before going live, but we’re going through the remaining licensees as they submit their documentation,” ADG spokesperson Maxwell Hartgraves said. “The rollout has gone well and there haven’t been any issues that I am aware of.”

It should be noted the ADG does not comment on active lawsuits, like the current effort by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe to stop sports betting in Arizona.

First Arizona sportsbooks live

The first weekend of sports betting in Arizona resulted in the fourth-most transactions among legal US sports betting markets, according to GeoComply. Hartgraves said the department was proud of its ability to get off the ground in time for the start of NFL betting.

“It was definitely a big challenge,” he said. “That GeoComply data was cool to see and shows Arizonans were ready for it.”

Seven sportsbooks were live Sept. 9:

Churchill Downs Inc. launched TwinSpires in the state last week, according to Hartgraves. TwinSpires is partnered with the Tonto Apache Tribe.

Hartgraves said since operators launched in the middle of September, the full monthly revenue figures likely will not be released until November.

More sportsbooks to go in Arizona

The ADG awarded 18 licenses Aug. 27. Those licenses went to 10 tribes and their sportsbook partners, and eight professional sports organizations and their partners. There are still two sports organization licenses available in the state.

“We still have a bunch more licensees to go through, and the limited event wagering licenses,” Hartgraves said. “There is a requirement they have to go live within six months of issuance, so I suspect within the next five months or so, all will go live.”

Licensees still in the process include:

Three Arizona brands unknown

The Navajo Nation and Tohono O’odham Nation have not announced sportsbook partners.

The Arizona Coyotes also have yet to announce their partner, but did provide an update earlier this month:

“We are fortunate to have an ownership group with tremendous expertise in sports gaming and we look forward to launching our operations this season,” a Coyotes spokesperson said. “We are in the process of finalizing details regarding our sportsbook operator and will provide more information presently.”

Tribal retail sportsbooks out of ADG hands

Through the compacts with the state, each Arizona tribal casino can have a retail sportsbook. Sixteen tribes operate 24 casinos in Arizona.

The ADG does review and approve those sportsbooks, but they are regulated through the compacts. The mobile licenses are through legislation passed in April and are all for off-reservation betting.

Tribal lawsuit still brewing

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe continues to seek an injunction to stop AZ sports betting. The tribe was denied its initial request on Labor Day.

The tribe then submitted an amended complaint to the Maricopa County Superior Court Sept. 9. On Monday, Judge James Smith ordered the plaintiff to resubmit a paginated amended complaint within five days.

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe claims the expansion of Arizona gaming through the legislature — instead of a voter initiative — violates the state constitution.

Fast state to launch

Arizona was one of four states to launch sports betting in September. The three others were:

Louisiana Gaming Control Board chairman Ronnie Johns told the USA Today Network he hopes Louisiana sports betting can launch Oct. 1.

Maryland sports betting could also launch this fall, as the licensing process for the 17 entities named in legislation opened last week.

Pat Evans Avatar
Written by
Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

View all posts by Pat Evans
Privacy Policy