Operators looking to jump into one of America’s hottest sports betting markets have a second and final chance to do so over the next two weeks.
The Arizona Department of Gaming will hand out the state’s final three mobile wagering licenses once the application window closes on Aug. 15, with the final two professional sports teams and another tribal license going up for grabs.
The ADG was authorized by HB-2772, which legalized Arizona sports betting, to allocate up to 20 wagering licenses — split evenly among teams and tribes.
The final tribal license is believed to be the one previously held by the Ak-Chin Indian Community, which partnered with Fubo Sportsbook until the operator shuttered their wagering platform last October.
The tribe currently has a retail sports betting partnership with Caesars Sportsbook AZ — the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino has a Caesars-branded sportsbook.
How The Process Works
The ADG’s rules for sports betting require an operator applying for one of the two open “professional sports team” licenses would be required to play in a venue that has at least 10,000 seats.
So far, those “teams” include the Cardinals, Coyotes, Diamondbacks, Rattlers, Suns, Mercury, the TPC Scottsdale course and the Phoenix Speedway, who all were awarded licensure in September 2021. Horse race track Turf Paradise was denied a pro sports team license in 2021 and currently holds a limited event wagering license good for retail sports betting only.
A representative from the ADG said in a statement to BetArizona.com that the department is ready to examine candidates for sports betting licensure, with an eye towards notifying applicants before the end of the month.
“The application window for three available event wagering licenses opened on August 1, 2023, and will close on August 15, 2023,” the department’s statement reads. “Applicants must submit their completed applications within this timeframe to be considered for a license. ADG will thoroughly evaluate all applications received based on the established criteria pursuant to the State's event wagering rules and statutes. More information can be found on the ADG Website.”
Who Will Be Interested In An Arizona Wagering License This Go-Round?
One pro team that’s already made it clear that they’ll apply for licensure is Phoenix Rising Football Club, which plays at the USL Championship level.
When asked about the club’s specific plans for wagering, a representative declined to comment, referring BetArizona.com to comments made by Bill Kraus, who serves as the club governor for Phoenix Rising, in the Arizona Republic.
Kraus told The Republic in July that Rising would “absolutely” apply for one of the two sports teams' licenses, as the club did in 2021 when they were rebuffed by the ADG because they did not meet the criteria to be considered a “professional sports team.”
“We have solved or corrected a few of the issues that we had with our first application,” Kraus told The Republic.
Chief among those issues was whether Rising could qualify as playing at soccer’s top professional level, as they are not a member of the 30-team MLS, a much more popular league than USL on Arizona sports betting apps.
Still, with no MLS teams in Arizona (and no expansion teams expected in the near-distant future), Kraus argued that Phoenix Rising FC qualified as “playing at the highest level of the sport,” which is what the state’s sports betting statutes specify.
The specific statute that Kraus discussed is Section 5-1301, 14 — which says: “’Professional sport’ means a sport conducted at the highest-level league or organizational play for its respective sport and includes baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, soccer and motorsports.”
A representative from Turf Paradise told BetArizona.com that the Phoenix horse racing facility would probably abstain from applying this go-round, given their lack of success two years ago.
“We’re taking a look at it, but that was a license that we were turned down for previously, so I don’t know that we would pursue it because we were once turned down for it,” Vincent Francia, the track’s general manager, told BetArizona.com.
Representatives from the other sports teams in the state without sports betting licensure (the Tucson Sugar Skulls of the Indoor Football League and Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League) did not return requests for comment about their sports betting plans.
Who Could Apply for a Wagering License in Arizona?
The leading contender to land one of the final three licenses in Arizona is Fanatics Betting and Gaming, which has a mobile betting presence in Tennessee and Ohio along with a retail partnership with the Washington Commanders in Maryland.
The wagering startup made waves earlier this year by fending off DraftKings Sportsbook to gain the U.S. sports betting assets that PointsBet of Australia held for $225 million, possibly opening the door for the apparel giant to make Arizona their third mobile wagering market.
While PointsBet did not receive licensure in the 48th State two years ago (their license was denied by the ADG after initially being approved via a technical error), the Australian operator could also apply for a license this go-round, should Fanatics choose to run them as an independent affiliate.
A similar two-operator setup would be the DraftKings-Golden Nugget pact that has been in place since the former bought the Vegas stalwart for $1.56 billion in August 2021. Both currently hold Arizona mobile sports betting licensure, with DraftKings Arizona holding the largest handle in the state (at roughly $3.1 billion through 20 months of operation), while Golden Nugget ranks 18th (at just over $1.8 million over 15 months).
A representative from Circa Sports told BetArizona.com that the Las Vegas-based operator is not closing the door on adding the state to the operator’s portfolio, with operations in states like Colorado, Iowa and Nevada.
“We don’t have any Arizona expansion news to share at the moment,” Circa Sports Marketing Manager Aaron Oster told BetArizona.com, “however, we are exploring every opportunity to bring sports betting the way it should be to as many bettors as possible.”
Other candidates to bid on a license could be Jake Paul’s Betr brand, which is currently live on a mobile basis in Ohio and Massachusetts, and other more niche brands like Tipico Sportsbook and Bet365.
Representatives from Fanatics Betting and Gaming, Betr, Bet365 and Tipico Sportsbook all declined to comment on the companies’ future plans regarding Arizona licensure.
Keep tabs on BetArizona.com for more updates, plus the best Arizona sportsbook promos.