It’s been a couple of weeks since Prescott Valley’s Arizona Downs race track launched its retail sports betting operation with an eye toward the future.
The track partnered with Caesars Sportsbook Arizona to operate sports betting kiosks, which opened to the public June 25 — the first day of the track’s 2022 live racing season.
Arizona Downs was one of 10 locations to receive approval from the Arizona Department of Gaming for a limited event wagering operator’s license earlier this year, along with Phoenix’s Turf Paradise and eight off-track betting locations around the state.
The opening two weekends of retail sports betting have been a nice addition, Arizona Downs owner Tom Auther told BetArizona.com this week.
But Arizona Downs still has its sights set on getting an Arizona sports betting apps license.
“We hope we get an event wagering license, not this limited event wagering license; we should have gotten it in the first place where we can take part in online betting,” Auther told BetArizona.com. “That's ultimately our goal. But we have to do that legislatively, I think.”
A Nice Addition to Race Day
Auther said the Prescott Valley facility’s ability to offer retail sports betting on race days has been better than nothing, giving customers an option that wasn’t available to them previously.
He’s hopeful the facility can show the state and potential operators it’s fit to be a permanent partner in the Arizona sports betting scene.
“We’ve got two [sports betting kiosks] currently, so it’s rounded out our betting experience really,” Auther said. “Now you can go and bet the horses, you can bet on sports with Caesars — a great partner — they’ve got good machines but they’re essentially renting the space from us.”
Caesars has its online license in the state through a partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Caesars opened its permanent retail sportsbook at Chase Field in late June.
“It’s great to partner with Arizona Downs to expand the Caesars Sportsbook retail footprint in Arizona with betting kiosks at the racetrack,” Caesars Chief Development Officer Dan Shapiro said in a statement. “The location will help us grow awareness in the Prescott Valley area and introduce the Caesars Sportsbook app to the thousands of fans who attend races every year.
“We also expect to add the ability for customers to deposit cash into their Caesars Sportsbook mobile account in the near future.”
Arizona Downs Still Hoping for Mobile License
Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt said in an interview last week the agency expects to allocate its final two mobile sports betting licenses once pending litigation is resolved.
The ADG initially awarded 18 of the 20 licenses set out in the 2021 compact last August, leaving two spots for “professional sports teams” in the state.
“I think once we've got a better idea on where the litigation is going to go, then we would look to go ahead and start the process to allocate those final two licenses,” Vogt told BetArizona.com. “I don't really have a timeframe on that. But as we told the stakeholders, the department will give a lot of advance warning that, ‘hey, we're going to start taking applications on a certain date’ so that everybody has enough time to prepare their submissions to the department.”
Auther expressed disappointment at the ADG’s decision to not award at least one event wagering license to a horse racing track in the state 11 months ago, calling the move nonsensical.
“I think there are two event wagering licenses left, and, in my opinion, those ought to go to the horse tracks,” Auther said. “A year ago, we were the only place that you could make a bet.”
Turf Paradise sued the state after it didn’t receive a mobile license in August 2021. An appeals court denied the track’s petition last October.
The track received a limited license and operates a retail sportsbook through a partnership with Unibet Sportsbook Arizona.
“It just doesn’t make any sense that we were left out [last year], but we’ll see what happens there,” Auther said. “That’s our ultimate goal.”