Arizona Sports Betting Clears Legal Challenge; Sept. 9 Launch on Schedule
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyler Murray (center).
Legal Arizona sportsbooks are still set to launch Thursday.
An Arizona judge dismissed a state tribe’s motion seeking to delay the launch of the state’s first legal sportsbooks. The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe sought a temporary restraining order to stop the opening, arguing the legislation enacting sportsbooks violated the state constitution.
Judge James Smith determined Monday the tribe’s lawsuit did not merit the temporary restraining order as the case continues through the legal system. Though legal challenges are not yet over for Arizona sportsbooks — and Smith indicated last week an appeal was likely — Monday’s decision is a strong indication the lawsuit will not ultimately prevail.
This means Arizona sportsbooks can continue, as scheduled, for its respective Sept. 9 launch and a potential future delay to prevent the operation is increasingly unlikely.
Sports Betting Details
Arizona policymakers passed a law earlier this year that will permit up to 20 online sportsbooks in the state. Ten licenses are allocated to state Native American gaming tribes and 10 to professional sports organizations.
By federal law at the time the compacts were approved in May, tribal gaming off sovereign lands (including via the internet) was prohibited. Instead, the tribes agreed to be regulated as if they were commercial properties for their statewide mobile sportsbooks.
In conjunction with the law, Gov. Doug Ducey and 19 gaming tribes agreed to amended gaming compacts that will allow further table games and certain brick-and-mortar gaming expansion. Each tribe is also permitted to open retail sportsbooks at its respective gaming facilities even if it didn’t receive an online license.
In its lawsuit, the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe argued the online sports betting license allocation process was unfair, leaving out most of the state’s 22 gaming tribes. The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe was one of three such tribes that did not agree to an updated 2021 gaming compact.
Sports Betting Options
Arizona officials announced 10 tribes and eight professional sports organizations had received online sports betting licenses. Several are unlikely to launch at the Sept. 9 deadline, but Arizona bettors could have a dozen (or more) options by the time the 2021 NFL season kicks off.
Several tribes have also indicated they will hope to have their respective brick-and-mortar sportsbook openings by this NFL season. The 2021 law also grants retail sportsbook rights to certain stadiums or their adjacent properties but it remains to be seen which will open this fall. Several operators, including Chase Field, have indicated they will at least open temporary books shortly after sports betting goes live.
Eligible Arizona bettors can register, deposit and wager via mobile devices for the legal, open sportsbooks beginning at 12:01 a.m. local time on Thursday. The following books have been licensed:
- Bally Bet (WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury)
- Barstool Sportsbook (Phoenix Raceway; NASCAR Championship race host track)
- Betfred (Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation)
- BetMGM (NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and State Farm Stadium)
- BetRivers (Indoor Football’s Arizona Rattlers)
- Betway (San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe)
- Caesars (MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks and Chase Field; Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino)
- DraftKings (TPC Scottsdale; PGA TOUR’s Phoenix Open host course)
- FanDuel (NBA’s Phoenix Suns-– and Footprint Center)
- Fubo Gaming (Ak-Chin Indian Community)
- Golden Nugget (Hualapai Tribe)
- SuperBook (Fort Mojave Indian Tribe)
- TwinSpires (Tonto Apache Tribe’s Mazatzal Casino)
- Unibet (Fort Yuma Quechan Tribe’s Quechan Casino)
- WynnBet (San Carlos Apache Nation’s Apache Gold Casino Resort)
The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes as well as the Navajo Nation and the Tohono O’odham Nation also earned licenses but haven’t announced their respective online sportsbook partner.