The road to sports betting in Arizona took another step toward fruition Wednesday, as members of the Arizona Department of Gaming laid out their blueprint for an on-time rollout in the Grand Canyon State.
Department Event Wagering & Fantasy Sports Contests Administrator Harold “Hal” Wafer and Problem Gaming Treatment Administrator Jay Herycyk discussed the next steps in the process during a call Wednesday with sportsbook operators. Arizona sports betting apps are scheduled to go live at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 9, just in time for NFL betting.
For those interested in Arizona Cardinals betting, their first game is Sept. 12 at the Tennessee Titans.
The steps included ways to help maintain a robust self-exclusion list to protect problem gamblers, in addition to information about the timeline for licenses that will be released this week.
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The latter subject has taken on greater importance this week, given the Friday deadline to inform retail and mobile sportsbook operators about whether their applications have been approved or denied.
Wafer said the department’s licensing team is confident they’ll be able to complete licensing in time for the deadline, but cautioned that all approvals are tentative until the team can fully vet each operation.
Here’s what we learned from Wednesday’s call between the department and gaming operators:
Wafer and Herycyk started Wednesday’s meeting by discussing steps that the department and operators will have to take to ensure that the state’s self-exclusion list stays up to date.
The list is meant to allow problem gamblers to request to be banned from all gaming facilities in the state. Both department officials said the state plans to update the self-exclusion list on as close to a daily basis as possible, with the help of operators along the way.
On Licensing Timeline
Wafer expressed confidence that the department would be able to hit its Friday deadline for sportsbook operators.
He also said the department is confident it will be able to announce licenses for retail sportsbooks on Friday as well but cautioned that all approvals are contingent upon the department’s expectation of gaming facilities and other steps.
Confusion About Licensing ProcessThe other major takeaway from Wednesday’s call was the sense of confusion from operators during the meeting. During the hour-long call, representatives from companies like Unibet Arizona, BetMGM Arizona Sportsbook, WynnBet AZ, DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona and Caesars Arizona Sportsbook asked Wafer about the licensing process, wondering aloud when they’d learn whether their application would be approved or denied.
What also stood out was that representatives from the confirmed sportsbook licensees (FanDuel Arizona and Penn National Gaming/Barstool Sports) did not ask any questions during the call.
Generally speaking, the fact that more than half of Wednesday’s call revolved around questions about the licensing process seemed to indicate that operators have more questions than answers about the department’s ongoing efforts.