This year’s College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl bears extra significance well outside Ann Arbor and Fort Worth this New Year’s Eve.
The No. 2-ranked Michigan Wolverines and third-ranked TCU Horned Frogs will square off at 2 p.m. Dec. 31 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, bringing thousands of diehard fans and millions in wagering revenue to Arizona sportsbooks during the final day of the year.
The 2022 CFP semifinal will be the first held in a state with legalized sports betting, and the Fiesta Bowl is the first college football postseason contest to have an exclusive sports betting partnership — a pact with Caesars Sportsbook Arizona.
And in February, the Super Bowl in Arizona will be the first NFL championship held in a legal betting state.
The upcoming wagering synergy isn’t lost on Jose Moreno, the Fiesta Bowl’s chief marketing officer.
The Tucson native told BetArizona.com the Fiesta Bowl is chomping at the bit to break another barrier on New Year’s Eve.
“At the Fiesta Bowl, we pride ourselves on being the ‘Bowl of Firsts’ and being innovative within college football,” Moreno said. "When we signed Caesars Sportsbook, we knew that this would disrupt the norm and how fans across the country saw sports betting integrated into college football.
“Having a CFP semifinal in Arizona is a very big moment and step forward in bringing awareness of sports betting to the passionate college football fan base.”
A Day to Remember in Arizona
Moreno’s excitement was shared by Arizona sportsbook operators and regulators alike, with executives from Cardinals wagering partner BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona expressing a similar level of anticipation about Dec. 31.
In an email to BetArizona.com, BetMGM Director of Trading Matt Cosgriff said the New York-based operator is thrilled to have such a big sporting event in one of its premier sports betting markets.
The Fiesta Bowl takes on even greater significance for Cosgriff and company, as BetMGM has a retail sportsbook on the grounds of State Farm Stadium, the first at an NFL facility.
While Caesars Sportsbook is the presenting sports betting sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl itself, BetMGM will be the only operator fans encounter as they make their way to their seats from the oversized parking lots surrounding the stadium on game day.
“BetMGM is excited for State Farm Stadium to host the College Football Playoff,” Cosgriff said in an email to BetArizona.com. “We expect record action on the game both on digital and in our retail book at the stadium.”
The excitement expressed by executives for Arizona sports betting apps was echoed by regulators at the Arizona Department of Gaming, who see the 2022 CFP semifinal as a way for visitors to get a glimpse at what has made the Grand Canyon State one of the nation’s fastest-growing wagering markets over the past 15 months.
Maxwell Hartgraves, the ADG’s public information officer, told BetArizona.com in an email that the department is thrilled to showcase the state’s sports betting scene to visitors, while also illustrating the commitment to responsible gaming in the state.
“It is exciting to see Arizona host the College Football Playoff,” Hartgraves said. “Major sporting events in Arizona attract out-of-state visitors from across the country and legal sports betting provides another attraction for those who visit. As always, the Department reminds those who are wagering that you should bet responsibly and with a legal sportsbook operator.”
A Game Day Experience, Partnership to Remember
To Hartgraves’ point, executives at the Fiesta Bowl like Moreno see the game’s partnership with Caesars Sportsbook as a way to further promote responsible wagering activity on game day while also benefiting the state’s economy.
Moreno said the pact, announced ahead of last year’s sports betting launch, allows both parties to further bolster engagement among fans on gameday.
“This is the future,” Moreno said. “This partnership has allowed us to educate our college football fans about the technology, the impact it has on our market, and the importance of responsible gambling. I believe this is the tip of the iceberg and you’ll start to see more and more bowl games emerge with partnerships like this in the future.”
Caesars will have its name on the Fiesta Bowl’s fan fest — the Caesars Sportsbook Fan Fest — along with the game’s “Club ‘71” facility and in-stadium beer garden, which is named the Caesars Sportsbook Fan Lounge.
The fan lounge will include lounge seating, along with a DJ and a birds-eye view of the playing field.
The bottom line for Fiesta Bowl executives and their sportsbook partners is to create an experience that will be harder to forget than the final score or MVP of the contest itself.
“We call it the best value in the stadium and the true definition of a (Fear Of Missing Out) experience geared towards the younger audience,” Moreno said.
For those coming to Arizona for bowl games this season, BetArizona.com is the place to go for the best Arizona sports betting promo codes.