Arizona Opens Window for Sports-Betting License Applications

The Arizona Department of Gaming is still aiming to launch legal sports betting in the southwestern state by September 9.

Posted: Jul 26, 2021 3:40 PM ET Updated: Jul 26, 2021 3:40 PM ET Est Time: 3 min
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The race to bid for the limited supply of legal sports-betting licenses in Arizona has officially begun. 

On Monday, the Arizona Department of Gaming announced it had filed its final rules for event wagering with Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and opened a two-week window for licensing applications. 

The tentative timeline for event wagering in Arizona sets out that the initial application period will close on August 9. The Department of Gaming will then evaluate bids and announce qualified applicants by August 16 and the allocation of licenses by August 27. 

Marketing efforts and player account creation could be allowed on August 28 under the current plan. The Arizona Department of Gaming is still aiming for the launch of legal sports betting in the southwestern state by the start of the NFL season.

“We would use the supplemental time from basically the 30th of August through the eighth of September to finalize any sort of licensing and certification required as necessary in order to go live tentatively on September 9,” ADG Director Ted Vogt said Friday during a public comment session on the sports-betting rules.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation and an amended gaming compact in April that (among other things) put the state on track to legally allow retail and online sports betting within its borders. The responsibility for setting certain rules for sports betting was left up to the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG). 

Those who want to bet in Arizona will have to be 21 years of age or older. Registration will be allowed both in person or online, but college prop bets and wagering on injuries and high-school events will be banned, according to the ADG's website.

Under Arizona's legalization legislation, the ADG is authorized to issue five-year event-wagering operator licenses to up to 10 of the state's Indian tribes and up to 10 other applicants. The non-tribal licensees allowed are the owners, operators, and promoters of the various Arizona-based professional sports franchises, facilities, and events.

The licenses for the state’s Indian tribes would only be for mobile sports betting, although Arizona's legalization legislation allows for retail wagering on tribal lands. For the other applicants, their license would permit both in-person and online betting.

Arizona’s event-wagering operators are allowed to contract with licensed "designees" to act on their behalf and run the digital and physical sportsbooks. Perhaps with that in mind, there was a flurry of partnerships announced ahead of the application window opening, including the pairing of the Phoenix Suns and FanDuel Group and the PGA Tour’s team-up with DraftKings Inc. 

There are also another 10 possible licenses for limited event wagering at specific locations, “which are reserved for racetrack enclosures or additional wagering facilities (OTBs),” the Arizona Department of Gaming notes. The regulator has also posted application forms for sports-betting designees, management services providers, suppliers, and employees.

A limited supply

Not everyone is guaranteed to get a license to take bets. The final rules published by the ADG state that if more tribes, professional sports teams, or limited-wagering applicants qualify for licenses than there are licenses available, the department would “ensure an equal opportunity” by awarding permits after considering certain criteria, such as job creation.

There will be restrictions, too, on how a licensee can do business. Sports-betting operators can only have a single event-wagering system, which can be the operator’s own hardware and software or technology provided by another entity. 

Operators will be guaranteed only one online wagering platform as well, although they can apply for a second. Those platforms would be the consumer-facing part of the mobile betting business. 

“The signing of House Bill 2772 and amended Tribal-State Gaming Compacts directs the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) to adopt rules and act as the primary regulator and enforcement body for event wagering and fantasy sports contests,” the ADG says on its website. “Additionally, this legislation requires event wagering & fantasy sports contests providers to furnish help for those who may have a problem with gambling, as well as allows individuals to exclude themselves from these new forms of legal wagering statewide.” 

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