In other places, running a retail sportsbook inside of a sports stadium gets you “air superiority.” For stadium sportsbook operators in Arizona, however, inside those venues and the immediate area surrounding them will be wide, open spaces.
The new law in AZ allows for in-stadium sportsbooks but doesn’t give them “exclusivity zones” for online wagering like the statutes in other jurisdictions do. Thus, for the likes of DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, it’s a little less appealing.
What AZ law does – and doesn’t – hold for stadium sportsbook operators
The state’s new gambling expansion law installs a cap of 20 sports betting licenses. Half of those are for tribal casino operators. The other half is for professional sports teams and the owners of venues where such events happen.
We’ve already seen two potential licensees announce their intentions. TPC Scottsdale, the annual host of the PGA TOUR’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, has partnered with DraftKings. The Phoenix Suns have similarly teamed up with FanDuel for a sportsbook at Talking Stick Arena. The Arizona Diamondbacks plan to partner with Caesars.
Those contracts get DraftKings and FanDuel into those venues on a brick-and-mortar basis. It also gets both gambling companies access to Arizona online betting on a statewide basis. However, there’s one thing missing here.
In other jurisdictions with legal sports betting like Illinois and Washington, D.C., owners of such venues and teams can apply for sportsbook licenses as well. They can also contract with gambling companies to handle the daily operation of the books on their behalf.
However, in those places, those sportsbooks get an “exclusivity zone.” In IL, it’s a five-block radius. That applies to not only retail betting but online wagering as well.
For example, the Chicago Cubs have a deal with DraftKings to place a sportsbook in or near Wrigley Field. Thus, when launched, none of the other IL sportsbooks will be able to accept wagers within that radius of Wrigley, even online. DraftKings essentially owns some of the best real estate in the state when it comes to betting on sports.
Barring future amendments, AZ law doesn’t include any such provisions. That doesn’t mean getting into Chase Field or State Farm Stadium has no value for gambling companies, though. Those are still prime territories.
AZ Stadium sportsbook deals still have a lot of value
While there are no exclusivity zones, that also doesn’t mean bettors can’t access the online components of DraftKings, FanDuel, and others on their phones in those venues. In fact, the designated operators will likely enjoy primary status there.
Those companies can use the same geofencing technology that they use for compliance (AZ law requires bettors to physically be in the state when they make their wagers) for promotional purposes as well. For example, the FanDuel app could detect when a user is inside Talking Stick Arena.
Then, the app could deliver special deals only available at the venue. To maximize the benefit of that, FanDuel could put up signage around the arena and especially inside the retail sportsbook alerting users to the promos. The brand exposure could go a long way to making sure Suns fans think of FanDuel first while they’re on-site.
The same goes for spectators at TPC Scottsdale and DraftKings. The Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Coyotes, and Phoenix Mercury have yet to announce partnerships along these lines. The Phoenix Raceway also has yet to name a suitor.
AZ law a win for sports bettors
While this situation may not be ideal for gambling companies, it’s actually a win for consumers. Because they aren’t restricted to just one sportsbook at these venues, they can shop for the best odds between several brands. Additionally, there’s more incentive for sportsbooks to offer the aforementioned specials.
When sports betting starts at Gila River Arena, Arizonians will be able to access any licensed sportsbook they want online while in the stadium. That makes AZ’s sports betting landscape unique and potentially superior.