The big news came in April of 2021. That’s when Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced the signing of House Bill 2772 (HB 2772). With the signing of the bill, Arizona officially joined the ranks of U.S. states where sports betting is legal. The bill also legalized the playing of daily fantasy sports (DFS) with online casino gambling on deck.

When the big announcement was made, it didn’t take long for major sports gambling players to emerge out of the shadows. Under the language found in HB 2772, a total of 20 sports betting licenses will be awarded. Of those, 10 will be allocated to Arizona’s Indian Tribes with the other 10 going to the state’s major sports franchises.

This writing is going to focus on one Indian Tribe and one U.S. sports betting operator. That would be the Gila River Indian Community and BetMGM, respectively.

About the Gila River Indian Community

Currently, there are 24 retail casinos operating on Indian land in Arizona. Of those 24 retail casinos, the Gila River Indian Community controls three casinos in the Phoenix area.

It will be up to the Arizona Indian Gaming Association to allocate the 10 licenses to member tribes. Assuredly, the Gila Tribe will be getting at least one of those licenses.

The Gila River Indian Community is located at the southern end of Phoenix. Reservation land covers over 583,000 square miles and houses a Tribe population of about 11,000 people. The retail casino business represents a very large portion of the financial resources that supports the Tribe’s members and infrastructure.

About BetMGM

When gov. Ducey signed HB 2772 into law, rumors started flying that the Gila River Indian Community would sign an exclusive contract with major U.S. sports betting operator BetMGM. It didn’t take for those rumors to be confirmed.

Under the terms of the contract, BetMGM will have the exclusive rights to provide both retail and online sports betting access in the Gila River district. While the details have not yet been released, it’s a good bet the retail sportsbooks will be located in the three Gila River Indian Community casinos. BetMGM will also be permitted to launch its sports betting website as well.

BetMGM was the result of a partnership between MGM Resorts International and Entain (formerly GVC Holdings), The U.S. bookmaker is currently providing sports betting/online casino/online poker access to bettors in at least 15 states. Based on revenue and employees, they currently rank as one of the top five bookmakers in the U.S.

When Will BetMGM Launch in Arizona?

After waiting decades to legally wager on sports, Arizona residents are ready for the state’s bookmakers to open up. As of now, the Arizona sports betting community is targeting a launch date of no later than September 9, 202. That’s the first day of the 2021 NFL regular season. That’s also three days before the Arizona Cardinals kick off their season against the Tennessee Titans in Tennessee.

As for BetMGM being ready, that should not be an issue. They have been under contract with the Gila River Indian Community since May. The day they signed the contract was likely the day they started moving towards a September launch. For sure, the BetMGM online sportsbook should be up and running by the start of the NFL regular season.

In regard to the retail sportsbooks, that might take a little more work. Currently, Gila River Indian Community management is working through logistical issues related to sportsbook locations. As soon as the space is ready, staff members from BetMGM will be moving in, ready to take sports bets.