A new era opened at 12:01 a.m. local time Thursday, when the Arizona sports betting market went live.
The launch date comes after the state Department of Gaming issued licenses for 18 Arizona betting apps operators on Aug. 27, 10 of which are partnered with state-based tribes and eight more with Arizona professional sports teams.
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The rollout process overcame a last-minute legal hurdle on Labor Day, when Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith denied a motion to overturn the 2021 gaming compact, filed by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe.
Smith’s ruling, which has not been appealed by the tribe, paved the way for an on time launch of sports betting on Thursday.
The market launched in time for Arizona NFL betting. The first game is later Thursday between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys.
The will be a lot of interest in Arizona Cardinals betting. The Cardinals open the season on Sunday at the Tennessee Titans.
Who is Operating on Thursday in Arizona?
Six operators are launching in the state Thursday — BetMGM Arizona, FanDuel Arizona, DraftKings Arizona, Caesars Arizona, WynnBET Arizona and Unibet.
TwinSpires plans on launching soon, while the other 11 licensees will open shop in the state later this year.
Those 11 others include industry stalwarts, such as Penn National Gaming/Barstool Sports, Bally’s, Rush Street Interactive/BetRivers Arizona, Golden Nugget, Fubo Gaming, Betfred Arizona and Digital Gaming.
How We Got Here
Sports betting in Arizona’s launch traces back to February, when Arizona House Bill 2772 was introduced in the state legislature.
The bill, which was sponsored by Reps. Jeff Weninger, Alma Hernandez, Ben Toma, Shawnna Bolick, Daniel Hernandez, Sonny Borrelli, Cesar Chavez, Jennifer Jermaine, Thomas Shope, David Cook and Becky Nutt, cleared the state House, 48-12 and the Senate, 23-6 in April.
The legislation, which legalized sports betting, daily fantasy sports and additional Keno games, was signed into law by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on April 15.
Arizona HB 2772 changed the way for Arizona’s tribes and sports teams to apply for one of 20 available licenses in an updated tribal gaming compact.
“This represents the most significant changes in almost two decades, a truly historic event,” Ducey said of the bill in April. “This compact amendment and associated legislation continue and builds on the success that the tribal-state partnership has provided for decades. We can call this a win-win-win for the tribes, the state and the taxpayers.”
How Sports Betting Benefits Arizona’s Economy
The start of legal sports betting is expected to bolster Arizona’s economy going forward, with Dennis Hoffman, professor of economics at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, estimating that it will generate upwards of $200 million in business activity and more than $30 million in tax dollars.
Hoffman’s projections line up with the Arizona Department of Gaming, which expects $34.2 million in annual General Fund revenue from legalized sports betting by the 2024 fiscal year.
“We’re in a world of guesses, at this point,” Hoffman said. “… The question is, will (sports betting) generate any residual or multiplier effects economically? I would make the case that if the alternative is spending that money on an offshore account, then it’s going to be a net positive to keep that money (in Arizona).
“So, you’ve got to keep in mind that all this money might have been leaking out to other states or countries, and now we’re collecting taxes on it and it’s staying in Arizona. So, all that is a good thing, economically speaking.”