Last updated: June 22, 2021
Arizona sports betting became legal in April 2021 with an expected launch date of September 9, 2021, to coincide with the start of the NFL season.
The Arizona Department of Gaming released a draft of rules for sports betting for a public comment period. Interested parties submitted written comments and participated in two public discussion periods. The department is still working through four main areas:
- Number of skins
- License fees
- Tax rate (or what Arizona is calling “privilege fees”) on adjusted gross sports betting receipts
- License allocation
Gov. Doug Ducey signed AZ sports betting into law in 2021 after state representatives approved a bill legalizing it. This followed Ducey negotiating a new compact with Arizona tribes who operate casinos to include sports betting in their contracts. Read on for more information about the upcoming launch of legal sports betting in Arizona.
What’s happening in Arizona sports betting right now
- June 21, 2021 — The Arizona Department of Gaming wrapped up its public comment period on track for the Sept. 9 launch.
- June 17, 2021 — A draft of the rules for Arizona sports betting was released to allow for public comment until June 21. The rules include both sports betting and DFS. But the ADG still anticipates a start date of Sept. 9.
- June 2, 2021 — The Arizona Department of Gaming announces that sports betting will launch in the Grand Canyon State on Sept. 9, 2021. In addition, the rules for the new industry will become available for public comment in mid-June.
- May 24, 2021 — Sports betting in Arizona remains on track after the US Department of the Interior approves the state’s new tribal compact. The approval is a critical late step in the process of bringing sports betting to life in the state.
- April 15, 2021 — Sports betting, along with daily fantasy sports and keno, becomes legal thanks to a signature from Gov. Doug Ducey. His sign-off on HB2772 paves the way for up to 20 different sportsbook operators. He also signs off on a new tribal compact in the state, which requires federal approval.
- April 12, 2021 — The Arizona Senate approves a sports betting bill, HB2772, and sends it to the governor’s desk for his signature. The bill, which is an identical piece of legislation to its sister bill in the Senate, passes through the upper chamber by a 23-6 vote. Forward progress stalled in the weeks prior due to the Senate’s merging of the bill with a historical horse racing proposal.
- March 4, 2021 — The Arizona House of Representatives approves HB 2772 by a vote of 48-12. The approval puts the Arizona Senate in an uneven position for sports betting, as the upper chamber is already considering its own bill, SB1794, and will have to decide between the two.
- Jan. 14, 2021 — Gov. Doug Ducey stresses the need for sports betting as part of a general revitalization of gambling in Arizona during his State of the State address. The governor’s support for the issue might put the wind back into the sails of sports betting proponents. Sports betting is likely to be part of the new agreement between tribal interests and the state.
- Feb. 4, 2020 — Two Arizona lawmakers introduce SB1525 as a means to bring sports betting to the state. The bill is the second version of the same proposal from 2019, during which it was known as SB1158. Its proposal would allow tribes to offer sports betting offsite from their reservations, which is potentially a violation of current tribal gaming rules.
Is sports betting legal in Arizona?
Yes. There are no legal options for sports betting in Arizona just yet, though. Regulators are creating rules to govern sports betting in Arizona, which will include statewide mobile wagering throughout the Grand Canyon State. The plan is for sports betting in AZ to go live in time for the 2021 NFL season.
The status of Arizona sports betting
Mobile sports betting is coming to Arizona, but the launch is pending following approval by state legislators this year. The Arizona gambling industry is largely comprised of 22 federally recognized Indian tribes, 16 of which operate 24 casinos in the state. Sports betting legislation in Arizona moved quickly once tribes and state officials got on the same page on how to conduct sports betting.
AZ sports betting will include both tribal casinos and major professional sports teams. Both tribal casinos and partners of professional sports entities can apply for an AZ sports betting license.
There will be a FanDuel Sportsbook located inside Phoenix Suns Arena, the home of the Phoenix Suns in downtown Phoenix, and a DraftKings Sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale. That golf course hosts the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The Arizona Diamondbacks partnered with Caesars Sportsbook, which will open a sportsbook at Chase Field.
AZ sports betting law
Arizona sports betting law allows both professional sports franchises and tribal casinos to participate. The law allows for as many as 20 sports betting licenses that will enable people to bet on their phones from anywhere within state borders.
There is one key piece of information to understand, though: Sports franchises do not directly operate sportsbooks. Teams such as the Phoenix Suns can partner with an operator to offering sports betting in AZ. Those teams, however, have no hand in the daily operation of any Arizona sportsbooks. This is one of the most common misconceptions regarding the operation of AZ sports betting.
When will online sports betting launch in Arizona?
Online sports betting in AZ will begin by fall 2021 if everything goes according to plan. Legislators approved the activity in April 2021 and Ducey signed it into law. However, state gaming regulators still need to set up rules and regulations to govern AZ sportsbooks.
That process is underway now and will establish how sports betting in Arizona works, both for businesses and for customers. A draft of the rules was posted for comment June 15 and interested parties have until June 21 to weigh in.
When online sports betting launches in Arizona, it will be available throughout the entire Grand Canyon State.
Recent Arizona sports betting news
Arizona sports betting bills
HB 2772 and SB 1797 became the eventual vehicles for Arizona sportsbooks to become legal. The legislation allowed not just for sports betting in Arizona, but also for the legalization of daily fantasy sports as well.
The bills needed the better part of three months to work through the legislative process. A big push from Ducey, however, helped sway legislators to open the market for AZ sports wagering.
SB 1525 proposed to legalize sports betting in Arizona in much the same form as a bill from the previous year. The state’s 24 tribal casinos could have offer sports betting through retail sportsbooks and kiosks. Mobile sports betting in AZ would have been prohibited, though.
S 1158 surfaced as another attempt to legalize AZ sports betting. The bill would have allowed kiosks or similar devices inside bars and liquor-serving establishments. In theory, this could have included airport lounges and social/fraternal clubs. The bill died in committee.
Sen. Sonny Borelli first indicates interest in supporting an Arizona sports betting bill. This comes shortly before the fall of the federal PASPA law, but no legislation makes any progress this year.
How does Arizona sports betting compare to Nevada?
Sports betting in Arizona will look slightly different than what its older neighbors in Las Vegas do. But the same betting markets available on The Strip will be brought to Arizona sportsbooks.
Both states feature mobile sports betting on smartphones and tablets. Tribal casinos will be able to open the same familiar sportsbooks guests will recognize from trips to Nevada. Betting markets include major professional and college sports.
Regulation of Arizona sports betting remains undecided at the moment, so we cannot compare tax rates and licensing quite yet. Nevada taxes gross gaming revenue, which includes sports betting, at 6.75%.
Basically, if Phoenix residents became accustomed to the betting experience at their favorite sportsbook in Las Vegas, it should not look too different at their Arizona sports betting choice.
Legal sports betting options in Arizona
Aside from betting on horse racing, there are no legal sportsbook websites that accept bets from people in Arizona yet. That will change later in 2021. Offshore websites offering sports betting in Arizona do so illegally. They do not hold a license from any US jurisdiction and cannot legally accept bets from residents.
These offshore betting apps and websites, which lack regulation from the state, can’t be counted on to pay out winnings. The risk is all on the consumer.
The only safe and protected way to bet on sports in the United States is through a licensed operator.
There will be many partnerships in the Arizona sports betting market because of the structure of the law. As many as 10 sports betting licenses will be available for professional sports organizations.
- FanDuel is working with the Phoenix Suns.
- DraftKings is working with the Waste Management Phoenix Open of the PGA Tour.
- Caesars is working with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
- Gila River Casino is a partner of the Arizona Cardinals.
Is horse betting legal in Arizona?
Yes, parimutuel wagering has been legal in Arizona since 1935. Arizona has three racetracks and two county fairs that offer racing. Turf Paradise in Phoenix is one of the longest-running meets in the country, typically beginning in October and going into May.
There’s also Arizona Downs and Rillito Park. Arizona also has off-track betting parlors located in bars and restaurants around the state. The industry is regulated by the Arizona Department of Racing.
Online horse betting is allowed in Arizona through sites such as TVG, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica. There was an effort in the House to support the struggling tracks by allowing them to offer historic racing, essentially turning them into racinos, and have sportsbooks.
Most popular sports to bet on in Arizona
The Grand Canyon State is also pretty grand when it comes to sporting events. Arizona has one team in each of the four major professional sports, plus one of the most successful collegiate basketball programs on the West Coast. The professional teams might not have the long history of those in other states, but they’ve all had their moments.
NFL betting in Arizona
The Arizona Cardinals haven’t exactly been the most successful team in the NFL since moving to the state in 1988, making just one Super Bowl in 2008. Arizona residents have flocked to the games anyway.
Football is the most popular sport for betting in the US. The Cardinals figure to generate a lot of excitement in coming years with a high-powered offense led by 2019 NFL Draft top pick Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins.
NBA betting in Arizona
The Phoenix Suns are the longest-standing major professional team in Arizona, founded in 1968. Although they have never won an NBA Championship, the Suns were perennial contenders in the ’90s with Charles Barkley, and again the next decade behind Steve Nash.
A long drought followed, with the Suns on their way to missing the playoffs for a 10th consecutive year in 2019-20. However, the team appears to be on the upswing with All-Star guard Devin Booker and 2018 NBA Draft top overall pick DeAndre Ayton.
MLB betting in Arizona
The Arizona Diamondbacks are the newest team in town, joining Major League Baseball in 1998. They’re also the only professional team in the state to win a title, taking the World Series crown in 2001.
Adding to baseball’s popularity in Arizona, Cactus League baseball arrives every March as nearly half of the sport takes part in Spring Training in the valley.
NHL betting in Arizona
Sweltering Phoenix wouldn’t seem like a natural ice hockey town, and not even a stint as coach and part-owner by The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, could make it so.
The Arizona Coyotes have one division title since moving to the state in 1996. The Coyotes were trying to make their first NHL playoffs in eight years when the coronavirus stopped play in 2020.
NCAA betting in Arizona
The most ravenous fans in all of Arizona can be found at the McKale Center cheering on the Arizona Wildcats in men’s basketball.
They are the one sports team in Arizona with a long and rich history, winning the NCAA Tournament in 1997 and making the Final Four a total of six times. Arizona State is on the rise with consecutive top-3 finishes in the Pac-12.
Given the popularity of Arizona Wildcats basketball with bettors in Arizona, lawmakers would be wise to allow for legal betting on in-state collegiate teams.
Arizona and Daily Fantasy Sports
While daily fantasy sports operate in a gray area in many states, the law in Arizona is clear now. The 2021 bill legalized DFS throughout the state and will make games available this year.
Because Arizona used to consider fantasy sports to be illegal as games of chance that would operate outside of tribal casinos, Arizona was one of only seven states not served by the major daily fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel.
Arizona sports betting timeline
Arizona sports betting appeared a longshot prospect at the start of the legislative session. It gained momentum quickly, though, as Ducey negotiated new gaming compacts with state tribes to govern their casinos.
Ducey and tribal gaming operators agreed to include AZ sports betting in their deal. That allowed state legislators the freedom to work on a bill to legalize wagering on sports in Arizona.
The bill moved swiftly at first before stalling out in a debate over whether historical horse racing should be included in the sports betting legislation. Legislators later stripped the HHR portion out of the AZ sports betting bill and allowed it to move forward.
Ducey signed the bill into law in April 2021. The compacts were published in the Federal Register in May 2021.
The federal legality of the Senate bill came under question for allowing the Arizona tribes to operate sports betting kiosks in off-reservation facilities. It once again didn’t move past second reading.
The House Appropriations Committee narrowly passed the House bill in late February. It then advanced through the House Rules Committee in March but was never brought up on the House floor.
Sen. Sonny Borrelli and Rep. Steve Pierce introduced legislation to legalize sports betting in Arizona.
The House bill would legalize sports betting at tribal casinos, racetracks, and commercially at “additional wagering facilities.” The bill drew opposition from Arizona Indian tribes.
The Senate bill limited sports betting to the tribal casinos while allowing tribes to place sports betting kiosks at bars around the state. Neither bill permitted mobile wagering. The bills found no momentum.
Arizona sports betting FAQ
Who will oversee sports betting in Arizona?
The Arizona Department of Gaming monitors tribal gaming activities in the state in accordance with the Arizona tribal-state gaming compacts. It will also take responsibility for overseeing the new Arizona sports betting law and the operators in the state.
Will mobile AZ sports betting be allowed?
Yes, it will be allowed. The sports betting bill passed in 2021 allows for mobile sports betting throughout the state of Arizona. You do not need to be an Arizona resident to wager, but you do need to be physically located within the state to place bets.
There are some sports betting websites that say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?
No. Any website that suggests betting from anywhere in the US is allowed is a website that operators offshore. It is not legal for those sites to accept bets from US citizens. Those sites offer no protection to consumers. There are currently no sportsbook operators licensed at the federal level. All US sportsbooks are licensed at the state level.