When most people think of winter sports meccas, the image of sun-splashed saguaros and desert scenery might not come to mind.
That doesn’t mean residents of the Grand Canyon state aren’t amped up for the 2022 Winter Olympics — to kick off from the mountains near Beijing on Friday — with operators expecting a big Arizona sports betting turnout.
The Arizona Department of Gaming added a host of Winter Olympics activities to the state’s catalog of approved wagers Jan. 6 — including ice hockey, figure skating, freestyle/cross-country skiing, bobsled, Nordic combined, ski jumping, snowboarding and more.
BetMGM Arizona and DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona are among the state’s mobile sports betting operators expecting big things from Olympics betting.
What Winter Olympics Betting Brings to Arizona
BetMGM Arizona will look to the Winter Olympics to fill a hole NFL wagering leaves once the Super Bowl wraps Feb. 13.
“With the football season coming to an end, the Winter Olympics will draw interest from bettors. With BetMGM expanding into new states, more bettors have the option to wager on the Olympics than ever before,” Darren Darby, BetMGM Sports Trader, said in an email to BetArizona.com.
Arizona betting apps will give fans a reason beyond patriotism to get into the Games, even with the 15-hour time difference.
“DraftKings has 39 events up as of now. Regardless of the time difference, people are going to tune in, take pleasure in and wager on the Winter Olympics,” Johnny Avello, Director of Sportsbook Operations at DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona, told BetArizona.com via email.
How Arizonans Can Wager on Events
So far, several of the events are already live on different sites. BetMGM Arizona’s mobile app has currently posted odds on sports including alpine skiing, bobsledding, cross-country skiing, figure skating, freestyle skiing, hockey, luge, Nordic combined, skeleton, ski jumping and snowboarding.
To use alpine skiing as an example, fans can place bets on the men’s downhill, the women’s giant slalom, the Super-G, or the giant slalom.
Each of the competitors in those races is listed with their odds next to their names. Norway’s Aleksander A. Kilde and Switzerland’s Beat Feuz are the odds-on men’s downhill favorites at +300, for instance. There are also odds on the nationality of the winner, the race’s winning margin and which competitors will medal.
BetMGM Arizona users can also place wagers on the number of gold medals each country wins and the total number of medals they bring home. The operator has Norway (-400), Germany (+600), Russia (+900), and the U.S. (+1400) atop its gold medal big board, and Norway (-650), Russia (+800), Germany (+800), and the U.S. (+1400) atop its medal list.
Arizonans in the 2022 Winter Olympics
As you probably expect, given Arizona’s general lack of winter weather (save for the mountainous north and parts around Tucson), there aren’t a lot of state residents competing in the 2022 Games.
A total of five Olympians were born in or have trained in Arizona, including pair figure skaters Brandon Frazier (born in Phoenix) and Chris Knierim (from Tucson), while U.S. female bobsledders Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries train in the Valley.
There’s also 19-year-old Phoenix-born hockey player, Matt Knies, who played for the Phoenix Junior Coyotes before joining the USHL’s Tri-City Storm and the University of Minnesota.
Frazier and his partner Alexa Knierim are +2000 to take home the gold medal in the pairs competition, while Taylor and Humphries are among the favorites in the women’s bobsled and monobob. The U.S. men’s hockey team is +275 at BetMGM to earn a spot on the medal stand.
The quintet will carry the Olympic dreams of Arizona’s 7.2 million residents in the weeks ahead, giving bettors a local angle to choose from in the Winter Games.