Arizona Sports Betting Regulators Award Mobile License to Fanatics Gaming

Arizona Sports Betting Regulators Award Mobile License to Fanatics Gaming
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

The newest Arizona sports betting operator will be New York-based Fanatics Betting and Gaming, as it will replace TwinSpires as the Tonto Apache Tribe’s mobile partner.

Fanatics was the lone applicant to be awarded an Arizona betting apps license during the window the Arizona Department of Gaming opened on Jan. 16. Applications closed March 4.

Once Fanatics is live in Arizona, it will be the company’s 17th state, joining Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia

“The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) announced today that it has allocated an event wagering operator license to Fanatics Betting and Gaming as the designee for Tonto Apache Sports Betting, an organization of the Tonto Apache Tribe, pursuant to A.R.S. § 5-1304 and A.A.C. R19-4-105 and 106,” the ADG announced in a press release. “On January 16, 2024, ADG announced that it would begin accepting applications for available event wagering licenses, which included one event wagering license reserved for Arizona Tribes and no less than one event wagering license reserved for Arizona Sports Franchises, as defined in A.R.S. § 5-1301(7).”

TwinSpires announced it was closing its online sportsbook operation nationally in the summer of 2022, but the company didn’t end its partnership with the Tonto Apache until December 2023.

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A Time of Change in Arizona Sports Betting

The ADG awarded bet365 Arizona a license during the process last August in partnership with the Ak-Chin Indian Community. bet365 launched in Arizona last month.

The Ak-Chin’s original online partner, Fubo Sportsbook, closed in October 2022. The Ak-Chin operate Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino, which features a Caesars Sportsbook retail location. The Caesars Sportsbook Arizona betting app has its license through a partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Since the licensing window in August, three of the state’s original 10 tribal license holders have had their betting partners announce closures — the San Carlos Apache (WynnBET), Tonto Apache (TwinSpires) and Quechuan Tribe (Unibet). Arizona is able to offer 10 tribal licenses and 10 licenses through professional sports teams. Only eight of the 10 pro sports licenses were ever filled.

USL team Phoenix Rising , which was turned down for a license in the state’s first licensing window in August 2021, told BetArizona.com in January it had planned to submit a bid in this window. But the ADG only announced one awarded license Friday. When the ADG took applications again in August 2023, the club said its betting partner didn’t have time to get its application together.

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What Fanatics Brings to Arizona Market

Fanatics Betting & Gaming launched as a subsidiary of the sports apparel monolith by the same name that was founded by Michael Rubin in 2011, rising from online upstart to a $3.4 billion corporation during that timeframe.

The sports betting arm of the New York company began in January 2023, when Fanatics Betting & Gaming opened its first retail sportsbook at FedEx Field in the D.C. suburbs, with the company’s first taste of mobile sports betting occurring that same year.

Fanatics Sportsbook Arizona will replace Churchill Downs’ TwinSpires as the Tonto Apache Tribe’s online sports betting partner. The Louisville gaming company took in just over $14 million in wagering handle during its 28-month run in the Grand Canyon State.

A representative from the Tonto Apache Tribe confirmed to BetArizona.com they would be switching from the defunct TwinSpires brand to Fanatics, saying in an emailed statement: “The Tonto Apache Tribe is very excited for our new partnership with Fanatics Betting & Gaming.”

Brendan Bussmann, who serves as the managing partner at B Global Advisors, told BetArizona.com that Fanatics’ inclusion into an Arizona sports betting marketplace that’s netted more than $14 billion in wagers since launching in 2021 will help the company continue their national growth.

“Today’s announcement allows one of the interested tribes to partner with Fanatics that continues its march across the country to develop a large network and keep at the highest level,” Bussmann said. “Arizona is a strong market, and it will be good to have all of the major sports betting operators having access to the state.”

“At this point, I think we have hit our max of potential partnerships between the tribes and the team licenses. It’s unfortunate that some of these licenses could not be reallocated to tribes but this was a flawed concept from the original bill to have equal number of licenses for both groups.”

Representatives from Fanatics Betting and Gaming did not immediately comment on Friday’s news.

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Author

Christopher Boan is the lead writer at BetArizona.com after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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