A new set of draft rules for Arizona sports betting released Monday would allow the state’s NHL team to keep its betting license while it builds a new arena.
The posting of the updated rules comes after the Arizona Department of Gaming announced Friday it would open a public commentary period on its finalized sports wagering and daily fantasy sports rules, which need to be formalized by April 15.
When HB 2772, which legalized sports betting in the state, was signed into law April 15, 2021, the ADG was initially exempted from certain rulemaking guidelines mandated by Title 41 of the Arizona Revised Statues.
That exemption, which ends April 15, allowed the kickoff of mobile sports betting to be expediated. Arizona sports betting apps took their first wagers Sept. 9, 2021.
Now, the ADG is pinpointing wagering and DFS rules that need tweaking and will be making changes before the exemption expires.
The most significant change in Monday’s rules draft deals with the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes.
Coyotes’ Temporary Arena Situation Hammered Out
The change will allow the Coyotes to still qualify as playing in a “professional sports venue” when they move their games to Arizona State University’s new multipurpose arena next year. The city of Glendale announced in August it was opting out of its lease with the team for use of Gila River Arena.
The previous set of rules defined a professional sports venue as being bigger, capacity-wise, than the 5,000 seats the new Tempe arena holds.
“[A] ‘Sports facility’ means a facility that is owned by a commercial, state or local government or quasi-governmental entity that hosts professional sports events and that holds a seating capacity of more than ten thousand persons at its primary facility, one location in this state that hosts an annual golf tournament on the PGA tour and one location that holds an outdoor motorsports facility that hosts a national association for stock car auto racing national touring race,” the state’s original rules state.
The ADG’s proposed rules state “professional sports teams” do not have to have a venue with a minimum number of seats, so long as it is approved by the department as a temporary home for the team.
That means the Coyotes, who are partnered with SAHARA Las Vegas and Grand Sierra Resort of Reno’s SaharaBets platform, likely don’t have to worry about losing their license while they await their new stadium’s completion.
“Use or operation of a Sports Facility that meets the definition of A.R.S. § 5-1301(18) is required for facilities operating retail event wagering under A.R.S. § 5-1304(D)(1). To maintain qualification to operate under A.R.S. § 5-1304(D)(1), the use or operation of a Sports Facility that meets the definition of A.R.S. § 5-1301(18) is required unless a different facility smaller than 10,000 seats is approved by the Department for temporary use pending the construction of a new Sports Facility or the remodeling of an existing Sports Facility, and the period does not exceed three (3) years,” the ADG’s new rules state.
It’s worth noting, however, the Coyotes proposal for a new arena in the Tempe Town Lake area is still in the proposal stage.
Public Comment Period Ends This Week
The ADG’s decision to open its rulebook to the public means anyone can submit comments, bolstering transparency for operators and customers.
Anyone that would like to voice their opinion on the sports betting rules in Arizona has until 11:59 p.m. April 3 to send a comment through the department’s website.
“While Section 7 also exempts the Department from seeking public comment, throughout this process, we have found working transparently with our stakeholders has yielded the best results and fostered a positive working relationship,” ADG Assistant Director Aiden Fleming said in a statement last week.
More information on the state’s rules for sports wagering and DFS play can be found at the ADG website.