The Arizona Department of Gaming has announced via the local press that they hope to have licenses issued to sports betting operators in time for the start of the NFL season which begins on September 10th.
The news follows the recent federal approval of newly agreed tribal gaming compacts and gaming legislation that will allow Arizona’s tribes and sports groups to launch sports betting products within the state.
The Department of Gaming is currently working on the regulatory framework required, drafting rules for both sports betting and fantasy sports contests. Once the framework and rules are finalized, the department will allow a one-week comment period starting on June 14th.
Following the comment period, the department will then issue up to 10 sportsbook licenses to the state’s major sports franchises. This includes the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Coyotes, and Phoenix Suns while other groups such as NASCAR can also apply for licenses. The USPGA has already announced that it intends to open a sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale in partnership with DraftKings.
Both the state’s tribes and major sports groups will be allowed to run sportsbooks on their property and also at nearby locations while the legislation also allows for an unlimited number of fantasy sports licenses.
The department has said that it hopes that the state’s licensed sportsbooks can begin taking bets on September 9th just three days before the Arizona Cardinal’s first game of the NFL season against the Tennessee Titans.
Supporters of the legislation believe that the sports betting industry could be worth as much as $100M to the state. However, the state legislature’s budget analysts put that figure closer to $34M.
The announcement of the launch date will come as welcome news to sports fans in Arizona as state Governor Doug Ducey had initially struggled to reach an agreement with the state’s tribes who had fiercely protected their exclusive right to gambling within the state. However, concessions to allow tribal casinos to expand their offerings to include online gaming options, more tables games, and an increase in the number of slots machines allowed saw the tribes finally agree to the new compacts.