In states where Indian tribal interests control much of the state’s gambling operations, the process for getting sports gambling legislation through Congress is often a tall task. That was certainly the case in Arizona where Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Tribal Leaders had been working on a new compact for several years.

Finally, the framework for a new deal was agreed upon and passed through the state Congress and Indian Gaming Regulatory Board earlier this year. That put the new agreement in the hands of the U.S. Department of Interior, which has also approved the new deal just weeks later. After clearing this hurdle, things fell into place very quickly.

On March 4, 2021, the House Legislature passed Bill 2772 with bipartisan support by a vote of 48-12. The bill was approved by the state Senate on April 12 and finally signed into law by Gov. Ducey on April 15th. Atlas, Arizona sportsbetting had become a reality, two years in the making.

Considering all the hard work that went into creating this new compact, it’s a model that other states like California might want to follow in the future. Recently, Governor Ron DeSantos of Florida announced a similar deal with the Seminole Indian Tribe.

A Look at Bill 2772

Under the guidelines of HB 2772, Arizona residents will have access to both retail sports gambling locations and online sportsbooks. The law permits a total of 20 sports betting licensees with 10 licenses being allocated to Indian Tribes and the other 10 going to other interested parties.

Of the other licenses, the state’s pro sports franchises will be getting the right to run retail sports betting kiosks and one online sport betting skin apiece. That will include the Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Coyotes, Phoenix Suns, pro golfing through the TPC Scottsdale facility, and NASCAR events. Fout other general licenses will be available.

It’s worth noting that while pro sports franchises will be permitted to develop retail kiosks, those kiosks cannot be inside of the respective game-playing venues. Instead, they can be located within close proximity or adjacent to the stadiums or arenas.

Under the terms of the law, licensees will have to pay an annual license fee of $150,000. They will also need to pay taxes to the state on gambling revenue to the tune of 8%. It’s noteworthy that both of these numbers are quite low in comparison to many other states. Also, wagers on the state’s college teams will be permitted with the exception of proposition bets on individual players.

 

Licensee Deals Already Announced

It did not take long for the top bookmakers in the U.S. to start striking deals with Arizona’s pro sports franchises and Indian Tribes. Here are some of the deals that have already been inked.

DraftKings almost immediately announced a deal to open a luxury sportsbook at the TPC Scottsdale Golf Course.

FanDuel unveiled a multi-year deal to provide marketing and retail gambling outlets in partnership with the Phoenix Suns.

While a formal agreement has not yet been reached, NASCAR already has a corporate relationship with WynnBet and Barstool. That would make a sports betting agreement congruent.

BetMGM has already signed a partnership with the Gila Indian Tribe to provide sports betting access through the Tribe’s three Gila Rivers Hotels and Casinos.

Caesars will be opening retail sportsbooks in close proximity to Chase Field, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks. According to Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick (in an interview with Sportico),

“adding one more high-end corporate partnership, and corporate partners at the high end are definitely paying seven figures a year.” He then went on to add, “Over time, as sports betting gets more ingrained into the sport, the revenue stream — and therefore our share — will grow.”

 

Setting the Sports Betting Target

In the coming months, both the state’s Indian Tribes and pro sports franchises will be scrambling to get their Arizona sportsbetting operations underway. That will include the development of retail sports betting outlets throughout the state under licensing obtained by the Indian Tribes.

There is no secret about the target date for the introduction of live sports betting in the state of Arizona. The Arizona Cardinals of the NFL have their away opener on Sunday, Sept. 12, against the Tennessee Titans. The prior Thursday, September 9, is the first day of the NFL regular season. That’s the date that operators want to start accepting bets. That would be fine with Arizona sports bettors who have been waiting a lifetime to legally bet on sports without having to drive to the state of Nevada.

Assuming Arizona bookmakers are successful at having operations available by the start of the NFL season (everything looks on target as of now), Caesars might well be the first operator to take a legal bet in Arizona since the Diamondbacks will be in town to play the Texas Rangers in the days leading up to the open of the NFL season.

With only 10 weeks until the big day, Arizona sports bettors will be building their bankrolls and honing their handicapping skills. Why? Legal sports betting is finally coming to the state of Arizona.