Arizona Embarks on a New Phase of Sports Betting Licensing
Written by Kristin Chute
July 14, 2023

Arizona Embarks on a New Phase of Sports Betting Licensing

As Arizona's sports betting landscape continues to evolve, a new opportunity is dawning for industry operators. The Arizona Department of Gaming has announced an open call for applications for three additional sports betting licenses, stirring anticipation among stakeholders.

A New Chapter in Arizona's Sports Betting Scene

Arizona's sports betting scene has grown significantly since its inception in September 2021. The state has a cap of 20 event wagering licenses that can be issued, split equally between sports franchises and tribal nations.

Presently, 8 of the 10 sports franchise licenses have been filled, while 9 out of the 10 tribal licenses are occupied.

The recent closure of Fubo sportsbook has created a new opening for a tribal license, while two commercial licenses for event locations remain to be claimed.

Navigating The Licensing Process

Acquiring a sports betting license in Arizona is no easy feat. Operators must align with either a professional sports team or organization in the state, like the Arizona Cardinals or Diamondbacks, or with a federally recognized tribe.

The Department of Gaming, the regulatory body for the industry, conducts an extensive evaluation process involving applicant assessment, background checks, and interviews before licenses are granted.

The Financial Implications

There is a substantial financial commitment associated with the licensing process. Applicants must pay an initial non-refundable application fee of $100,000.

Upon approval, they are required to pay a license fee of $750,000. Additionally, an annual fee of $150,000 is levied on operators.

The Race to Secure Partnerships

The requirement for operators to align with either a professional sports team or tribe presents its own challenges. Several of the state's major sports teams, including the Cardinals, Coyotes, Suns, and Diamondbacks, already have existing partnerships.

The Phoenix Rising FC of the United Soccer League stands out as one of the few without an authorized betting partner. The potential for a second agreement exists, with teams like the Cardinals or Suns possibly entering into a secondary partnership with a sports betting operator for licensure in the state.

However, this would depend on the exclusivity of the deals already in place. Additionally, speculation about the Coyotes' potential departure from the state suggests the possibility of another license becoming available.

Potential Contenders in the Scene

The open call for license applications has piqued the interest of several prominent operators. Fanatics, a company with over $25 billion in cash on hand and a large customer base from its retail sports apparel business has emerged as a potential applicant. Having recently acquired PointsBet US, Fanatics is well-positioned to significantly impact the industry.

Europe-based Bet365, with its sportsbook in several states, is another potential contender. The company's reputation and stability make it a likely candidate for one of the available licenses.

SI Sportsbook, run by Sports Illustrated, is yet another potential player. Despite not being a revenue leader, the company has established a solid track record and stable platform in states like Colorado, Michigan, and Virginia.

The Current Landscape of Sports Betting License Holders in Arizona

Eight sportsbook license holders have partnered with sports franchises in Arizona, including BetMGM with the Arizona Cardinals, BetRivers with the Arizona Rattlers, and Caesars with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The tribal license operators include Betfred with the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Betway with the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, and Desert Diamond with the Tohono O'odham Nation.

The Road Ahead

The Arizona Department of Gaming has announced that it will accept event wagering license applications from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15. On July 17, the Department will host a webinar providing information and tips to prospective applicants. The coming months promise to be crucial for Arizona's sports betting industry.

As operators vie for the available licenses, the industry is set to become even more competitive. The ultimate winners? The sports betting enthusiasts of Arizona.

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