Arizona Sports Betting Date Set To Launch Legal Retail Sportsbooks

Posted By Derek Helling on June 3, 2021

There are two things that Arizonians should know about the Arizona sports betting date to open. The first is that it will likely only include brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. The second is that it’s an ambitious goal.

The AZ Dept. of Gaming has set a high bar for itself but if it keeps to its plan, it’s an achievable one. Future bettors in AZ should get a better idea of what the gambling expansion will look like later this month if everything goes according to that plan.

When is the targeted Arizona sports betting date?

According to Kevin Stone of KTAR News Phoenix, the goal date is Thursday, Sept. 9. Arizona Cardinals fans might recognize that date. It’s also the start of the 2021 NFL regular season. The Cardinals won’t play their first game until that following Sunday.

The Dept. of Gaming’s updated information on daily fantasy sports and event wagering also has a few more tidbits. The department promises the first draft of regulations for both activities for public inspection by June 14.

Interested parties will have the following week to comment on the draft regs. That period closes on June 21. If the department hits those milestones on time, that would afford all parties involved over 11 weeks to wrap up all of the following:

  • Get legislative approval and finalize regulations
  • Publicize license application forms
  • Review applications and render decisions
  • Inspect licensees’ systems for compliance
  • Issue go-live authorizations

On the brick-and-mortar side, that’s ambitious but possible. As far as online sports wagering goes, that timeline is pretty unrealistic. It takes far longer to conduct systems inspections for online wagering. The end of this year, if not early 2022, remains a more probable timeline for Arizona sports betting apps.

Thus, Arizonians looking to place legal bets on NFL Week 1 this year will probably have to visit sports stadiums and/or tribal casinos near them. So which facilities seem most likely to be ready on Day 1? It’s a little difficult to handicap that race right now.

Arizonians should keep watching the news

A few venues in AZ have gambling company partnerships lined up pending regulatory approval. Those are:

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the owners of those facilities or their partners will receive clearance to forge ahead from regulators in AZ in a timely manner, or at all. Additionally, operators of other venues like State Farm Stadium and the Phoenix Raceway could quickly catch up here.

For now, though, those properties seem to be on the inside track to get their retail books open first. That situation is a bit more clear than it is at tribal casinos near AZ cities. S0 far, none of the 16 tribal groups that run such casinos have publicly expressed interest in offering sports wagering to customers.

At the same time, none of them have stated they won’t go after one of the 10 licenses reserved for tribal casino operators either. As there are only 10 licenses between 16 operators, it’s unclear how the tribes will decide which groups get a license and which don’t.

If the Ak-Chin Indian Community receives licensure, that may mean a Caesars book inside the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa. Harrah’s is a Caesars brand. That’s currently the only of the 23 tribal casinos that has a built-in sportsbook brand figuratively in place.

Given that the Dept. of Gaming is moving quickly on getting retail books live, more operators may announce market access deals in the short term. Either way, Arizonians now have a second reason to circle Sept. 9 on their calendars.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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