Arizona Sports Betting Timeline Reaffirms September Launch Projection
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: The Phoenix Suns mascot pumps up the crowd.
The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) has planned for a go-live date on Sept. 9, the date of the 2021 NFL season opener between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A Sept. 9 launch means Arizona bettors could also legally wager ahead of the Arizona Cardinals' opener Sept. 13.
Eight companies have already announced sportsbook partnerships and are positioned to launch on or shortly after the formal go-live date. Arizona’s 2021 sports betting law allows as many as 20 individual sportsbook operators, though not all are expected to launch before the end of the year.
Current Arizona sportsbook deals include:
Other market leaders such as BetMGM are also expected to apply for Arizona licensure.
Additionally, the ADG confirmed daily fantasy operators can launch on August 28. Arizona is one of the last remaining states where major legal DFS companies don’t accept players.
Additional Timeline Details
Monday’s regulation formalization and license application announcements are two more major steps in the formal timeline outlined by the ADG ahead of the projected September launch. Other key sports betting dates include:
- August 9: The initial sportsbook operator application window closes
- August 16: The ADG announces applicants qualified for licensure
- August 27: The latest the ADG has to announce which operators have earned a license
- August 28: Approved licensees can begin marketing; eligible Arizona bettors can download sports betting apps and register
- September 9: Target sportsbook launch date
Arizona Sports Betting Background
Arizona policymakers passed a bipartisan sports betting bill in April that will allow up to 10 federally recognized gaming tribes and 10 professional sports entities to open statewide mobile sportsbooks. Each operator can open a second online sportsbook with ADG approval, but it must act strictly as a secondary branding offering for the existing company; a tribe or sports entity could not partner with two separate, independent sports betting companies.
All Arizona tribes, including those without online sports betting licenses, can open retail sportsbooks at their respective casino properties. Notably, online sportsbooks will not be accessible on tribal lands.
Retail sportsbooks on tribal lands are permitted as part of a 2021 gaming compact agreement reached by Gov. Doug Ducey and 19 separate tribes that was approved by the federal government earlier this year. The tribes’ online sportsbooks are regulated by the ADG and are treated like commercial properties.
Up to 10 additional “limited” sports betting licenses are available for state racetrack enclosures or off-track betting facilities.
Arizona is one of the first states to allow pro sports entities to open retail sportsbooks within or adjacent to their playing facility. Six organizations/teams have been specifically allowed to open books under the law:
- Phoenix Suns (NBA)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)
- Arizona Coyotes (NHL)
- Arizona Cardinals (NFL)
- TPC Scottsdale (PGA Tour)
- Phoenix Raceway (NASCAR)
The 2021 law allows four additional pro sports organizations to apply for licensure. It’s unclear if existing lower-division pro teams such as the United Soccer League’s Phoenix Rising would be eligible for licensure in the future.
It remains to be seen how many of the 10 approved gaming tribes and six pro sports organizations launch sportsbooks following the Sept. 9 go-live date, but Arizona bettors will likely have multiple established sportsbook brands to choose from ahead of the 2021 NFL season kickoff.