What is Going On?
Arizona’s sports gambling market is set to explode after the State Senate passed a bill that will legalize sports gambling within state lines online and in retail locations, getting voted through on a 23-6 margin.
HB 2772 stipulates that sports gambling will be allowed throughout the state to residents 21 and older and is expected to welcome online gambling on September 9, the proposed date where everything will go into effect.
Governor Doug Ducey has been a big proponent of the new measure and helped to push it forward, viewing the expansion of sports gambling as an inevitable and exciting future that can create new revenue streams and boost the state’s well-being.
“There’s no question that Arizona has grown and changed significantly since the last major compact update in 2003,” Ducey said. “It’s important that we account for these changes in our policies and our compacts.”
The most exciting part about the new bill that will soon become law is that there are 20 licenses up for grab, 10 of which will be grouped with professional sports franchises and associated locations, and 10 of which will be given to federally recognized tribes within the state. Each professional sports location will be allowed to operate one regulated sportsbook at their location, and a secondary option at a nearby location.
Arizona’s new bill allows for gamblers to place wagers on professional and college sports teams, domestic and international. Notably, there will be no prop bets taken on collegiate sports, a trend that has become familiar within states that have legalized sports gambling. This restriction does not include futures, like predicting Heisman winners, which will be open for operation.
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Although sportsbooks are not yet operational in Arizona, many companies have begun talks or formed partnerships with brick-and-mortar locations in preparation for the upcoming date. Sportsbooks that have already secured locations in the Grand Canyon State include BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, Caesars Sports, and Bally Bet.
According to Statista, sports gambling in the USA accounted for 1.55 billion dollars in 2020; with the growing popularity and expansion to new locations, this figure is expected to continue to grow for years to come.
In addition to the tax revenue they will claim, the state is expected to gather at least $100 million in licenses for gambling.
The tribes have held exclusive control over the state’s gambling operations since 2002 and were reluctant to give up their monopoly— the compromise was to guarantee their tax rate will not be increased to the maximum of 8% that non-tribal casinos will be subject to, expand their amount of slot machines and open the door to continued growth every two years that the law is in effect, and let the tribes offer new games like Baccarat and craps.
According to a Department of Gaming Report, the tribes brought in $2 billion in total revenue, of which the state received $102 million, during a fiscal year that concluded on June 30, 2020. The new bill will give the tribes, the state, and investors benefits that far outweigh the negatives, and will encourage future growth within the state.
Sports gambling is continuing to sweep the nation, and Arizona is primed to jump onto the scene with its new offerings. It is time for other states to realize that this fire is burning bright and will not stop any time soon.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.