It has been 90 days since Arizona sports betting apps launched, and the industry hasn’t looked back.
Though we’re still awaiting the official data on September and October’s handle in the Grand Canyon State, we do know most of the 18 operators that received licenses have opened, and customers are wholeheartedly embracing sports wagering.
Of those first 18, the only professional sports teams whose operating partners haven’t launched are the Phoenix Mercury (partnered with Bally’s Arizona) and Arizona Coyotes (no announced partner).
As for Arizona’s tribal partners, the Fort Mohave Indian Tribe (SuperBook Sports), Navajo Nation (TBA), Hualapai Tribe (Golden Nugget), and Ak-Chin Indian Community (Fubo Gaming) have yet to launch operations.
What’s Next for Arizona’s Sports Betting Market?
There are no plans as of now to allocate the final two of the 20 available licenses in Arizona, according to an Arizona Department of Gaming spokesperson. Those licenses were to be given out under the professional sports umbrella.
That doesn’t mean the Arizona sports betting market is set for a lull period, with several licensed operators slated to launch operations in the coming months.
Among the operators that didn’t receive licenses in September, it seems the focus is on finding a partner to allow them to enter the marketplace.
What Are Non-Licensed Operators Doing Now?
Among the operators that failed to receive a license from the ADG is MaximBet, whose Vice President of Brands & Communications, Doug Terfehr, told BetArizona.com the company has its sights set on emerging markets in the U.S., such as Arizona. MaximBet formed a partnership with the White Mountain Apache Tribe in August, but the pair did not receive one of the first 18 licenses awarded.
“Arizona is still very much an opportunity for us,” Terfehr said in a statement. “We will be launching 8-10 new markets in 2022, and we would like Arizona to be part of those plans. Arizona is an ideal market for a lifestyle brand like MaximBet, and we continue to explore entry in the state.”
Another sportsbook applicant without a license is Australia’s BlueBet, which partnered with the Colorado River Tribes to enter the market.
BlueBet CFO Darren Holley said in an email to BetArizona.com the company is still committed to finding a way into the Arizona sports betting marketplace, but it has no plans of operating a retail-only facility in the future.
“At this point BlueBet has no plans to operate as a retail only facility,” Holley said. “We remain agile in looking for opportunities in other markets but continue to keep a close eye on Arizona if additional licenses become available.”
Who Will Launch Next in Arizona?
The next entrant into the sports betting marketplace should be Fubo Gaming, which told BetArizona.com it still plans on launching operations either later this month or in early 2022.
Bally’s Arizona is also expected to be among the next operators to launch, with a company representative telling BetArizona.com the operator is still on track to open in early 2022.
Representatives from SuperBook Sports, Golden Nugget and Digital Gaming did not respond to requests for comment on their launch date plans. The Navajo Nation’s gaming office declined to comment on its sports betting partner.
Arizona Sports Betting a Runaway Success Story
Though we don’t know the official numbers for the opening months of sports betting in Arizona, the talk in the industry indicates the state’s early handle could be record-setting.
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Strategic Marketing Officer Dominic Orozco said in early November the enterprise has seen strong demand from their customers since they opened three retail sportsbooks in the Valley.
“It’s new for us. I mean, we've only been live since Sept. 9. So, it's not a lot of data that we have so far,” Orozco told BetArizona.com. “And what we're seeing is very promising in terms of people activating accounts.
“Right now, a lot of people are trying out platforms. And it's a very promotional-heavy time period for acquisition in the market. But we feel very comfortable that once this all settles down, we are still going to have a decent grip on the fair market share (in Arizona).”
The takeaway from the newest entrant into the Arizona sports betting scene, Rush Street Interactive/BetRiver Arizona, who partnered with the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League, was similarly upbeat.
In November, RSI Chief Operating Officer Mattias Stetz described the Arizona market as one that’s primed to compete with the top states in the country, thanks in large part to having four major professional sports teams in the Phoenix metroplex.
"(Arizona) has all the characteristics to be a very successful sports betting market as it has some of the most passionate sports fans in the U.S. and a full slate of professional teams,” Stetz said.
How Arizona Stacks up With Existing Markets
One market Arizona has been compared to since launching Sept. 9 is Colorado, which legalized wagering in 2019.
It’s an apt comparison, given the Centennial State’s similarly sized population (5.8 million in CO to 7.2 million in AZ), and market structure.
It was a comparison Brendan Bussmann, who has served as a partner and director of government affairs for gaming and hospitality at consulting firm Global Market Advisors since 2015, brought up during an interview in October.
“I sort of put (Arizona’s sports betting market) in line with a Colorado-type atmosphere,” Bussmann said. “Where you have strong affiliation for local teams, you've got a good population base that has an interest in sports. And so, I thought, as a similar state out in the west to Colorado, obviously, you must see if that comes to fruition.”
The Colorado sports betting market certainly is one Arizona would be happy to replicate, given how Colorado smashed its record for handle in the previous two months, registering totals of $408.3 million and $491.4 million, respectively.
Who’s Launched Sportsbook Operations in Arizona
Here’s a look at the operators and partners in the state and their status.Sports Betting Licensees
- Ak-Chin Indian Community (Fubo Gaming)
- Arizona Cardinals (BetMGM Arizona)*
- Arizona Coyotes (TBA)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (Caesars Sportsbook)*
- Arizona Rattlers (BetRiver Arizona)*
- Fort Mohave Indian Tribe (SuperBook Sports)
- McDowell Yavapai Nation (Betfred Arizona)*
- Hualapai Tribe (Golden Nugget)
- Navajo Nation (TBA)
- Phoenix Mercury (Bally’s Sports Arizona)
- Phoenix Speedway (Penn National Interactive/Barstool Sports)*
- Phoenix Suns (FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona)*
- Quechan Tribe (Unibet Arizona)*
- San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe (Digital Gaming)
- San Carlos Apache Tribe (WynnBET)*
- Tohono O’odham Nation (Kambi Group)*
- Tonto Apache Tribe (TwinSpires Sportsbook)*
- TPC Scottsdale (DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona)*
- Gila River Indian Community (BetMGM Arizona)*
- Pascua Yaqui Tribe (Scientific Gaming)*
- Yavapai-Apache Nation (IGT PlaySports)
* — Have launched operations