After 12 months of reporting from the Department of Gaming and several billion in wagers placed, we can now assess the opening year for Arizona sports betting.
With August’s $361.008 million in handle, Arizona sports betting apps and retail locations have cleared more than $5.4 billion in wagers, dating back to Sept. 9, 2021 — when the 18 licensed online sports betting operators were allowed to begin accepting bets.
If you exclude New York, which had retail sportsbooks prior to the state’s adoption of mobile betting in January, the Grand Canyon State is the fastest market to eclipse the $5 billion mark in handle.
Ted Vogt, who serves as the ADG’s director, addressed the opening year in a department press release, calling the stretch a success story for the Grand Canyon State.
“I am excited to see such strong wagering figures for August, which is the final monthly report for Arizona’s first year of legal sports betting,” Vogt said. “Through the first year of legal wagering, Arizona has seen over $5.4 billion wagered on sports, highlighting the strong start for the state’s new sports betting industry.”
Top Arizona Operators By Handle
An Opening Year to Remember
A host of Arizona sports betting figures told BetArizona.com the opening year was one they won’t soon forget.
Eric Hession, who serves as the president of Caesars Digital, which is partnered with the Arizona Diamondbacks, said the state’s launch day was a remarkable accomplishment, while adding the operator is thrilled with how well they’ve performed in Arizona.
“September 9, 2021 was a historic day for our company, marking the first time Caesars Sportsbook launched in a new state on its first day of legalized sports wagering. When we look back on this momentous year, we’re encouraged about what lies ahead,” Hession said in an emailed statement to BetArizona.com. “Arizona is a state we take pride in operating responsibly in and we’re thankful for our partners — the Arizona Diamondbacks and Ak-Chin Casino — for helping us launch and build for the future in the state.”
To Hession’s point, The Emperor has been a top-flight operator in Arizona since Day 1, with Caesars Sportsbook Arizona taking in the fourth-highest handle in the state ($695.993 million), trailing only DraftKings Sportsbook ($1.683 billion), FanDuel Sportsbook ($1.494 billion), and BetMGM ($1.05 billion).
Caesars opened its permanent retail location at the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field in June.
The ability to place wagers in-person and via mobile applications has been a hit with those that work in the state’s retail sector, such as Jeff Hoose, who serves as the regional director for FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona.
Hoose said the New York operator’s retail space at Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix has become a can’t-miss addition to the Phoenix Suns’ gameday experience, in addition to being a year-round destination for those in the Valley.
"A Suns game at Footprint Center is the hottest ticket in Phoenix, and we knew we'd be busy on nights when they played at home, but I was at Footprint Center all day (on a) Saturday and was reminded how we're a destination for football as well,” Hoose told BetArizona.com by email. “I spent a lot of time talking with our customers who had waited all year for college football to return.”
Log on to BetArizona.com for Arizona NFL betting promotions.
What’s to Come for Arizona Sports Betting in Year 2?
For sports economists, like Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business Senior Lecturer Daniel McIntosh, the opening year has shown sports betting to be a good diversion for the state.
“I've often joked with students and with other reporters that sports betting isn't going to save Social Security,” McIntosh told BetArizona.com. “We often hear these huge handle numbers that get reported. But if we look solely at the tax revenues, while not small — $16 million is not nothing — these are not that big when compared to the budget of a state like Arizona, which is roughly $13-to-$14 billion. So, I'd say enjoy sports betting, but also go to a local restaurant from time to time to help keep your communities healthy. And enjoy it while it's here.”
McIntosh highlighted the fact the Super Bowl in Arizona will be the first time America's biggest sporting event is held in a state with legalized sports betting. That gives the Grand Canyon State another claim to fame entering the Big Game, aside from its dazzling winter climate and bountiful resorts and hotels.
BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona opened its retail location at State Farm Stadium in time for the start of the Cardinals season.
“We will see an influx without a doubt, it will be a lucrative one. But it’s interesting because that's going to be predicated on who's in the big game itself,” McIntosh said. “So, for example, California still hasn't legalized online sports gaming, and the Rams are the defending champs. So that's a huge domino that has still yet to fall. If the participants do not have legalized gaming, then we'll see a little bit more impact than if they do.”
For Arizona’s professional sports team officials, such as Arizona Diamondbacks President & CEO Derrick Hall, wagering has provided fans with additional ways to get into the game, building the loyalty that’s key to a club’s success.
He expects that connection to only increase with time, especially given the addition of the Caesars Sportsbook at Chase Field retail location over the summer and the increasing comfort for customers with the ins-and-outs of sports betting.
“Looking back on the past year since sports betting was legalized, we are excited about the added entertainment options that we were able to provide to our fans, primarily in a whole new level of fan engagement from first pitch to last, and the downtown Phoenix community,” Hall told BetArizona.com. “We started with a handful of betting windows in our Ticket Office that served as a temporary Caesars sportsbook last September, and now we have not only the largest freestanding sportsbook in Arizona, but a year-round, first-class culinary destination in Guy Fieri’s DTPHX Kitchen + Bar at Caesars Sportsbook."