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A New Era Begins in Arizona With Sports Betting Launch

Christopher Boan for Bookies.com

Christopher Boan  | 3 mins

A New Era Begins in Arizona With Sports Betting Launch

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Legal Arizona sports betting began in earnest at 12:01 a.m. local time Thursday, creating a new era for sportsbook operators and millions of sports fans in the state.

Thursday is the day the state chose as its launch date for sports betting, weeks after the Arizona Department of Gaming issued licenses for 18 operators on Aug. 27. Of those operators, 10 are partnered with state-based tribes and eight more with Arizona professional sports teams.

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The date was especially important for sportsbooks with the start of betting on the NFL later Thursday. The 2021 regular season begins with the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing the Dallas Cowboys.

The hometown favorite Arizona Cardinals are on the road Sunday, facing the Tennessee Titans. In NFL Week 1 odds, the Cardinals are 3-point underdogs to the Titans. Check out sportsbook promo codes from sportsbooks before the games begin.

The process survived a legal hurdle on Labor Day, when Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith denied a motion to overturn the 2021 gaming compact, filed by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe.

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Who Is Operating in Arizona?

The top sports betting sites all wanted to be in Arizona and at least six are launching in the state from the outset, in BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, WynnBET and Unibet.

TwinSpires plans to launch soon, while the other 11 licensees will open shop in the state later.

The others opening later include Penn National Gaming/Barstool Sports, Bally’s, Rush Street Interactive/BetRivers Arizona, Golden Nugget, Fubo Gaming, Betfred Arizona and Digital Gaming.

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How Sports Betting in AZ Happened

The timeline of how sports betting in Arizona launched dates to February, when Arizona House Bill 2772 was introduced in the state legislature.

The bill, which was sponsored by Reps. Jeff Weninger, Alma Hernandez, Ben Toma, Shawnna Bolick, Daniel Hernandez, Sonny Borrelli, Cesar Chavez, Jennifer Jermaine, Thomas Shope, David Cook and Becky Nutt, cleared the state House, 48-12 and the Senate, 23-6 in April.

The legislation, which legalized sports betting, daily fantasy sports and additional Keno games, was signed into law by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on April 15.

The legislation allowed Arizona’s tribes and sports teams to apply for the 20 available licenses in an updated tribal gaming compact.

“This represents the most significant changes in almost two decades, a truly historic event,” Ducey said of the bill in April. “This compact amendment and associated legislation continue and builds on the success that the tribal-state partnership has provided for decades. We can call this a win-win-win for the tribes, the state and the taxpayers.”

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Who Benefits in Arizona?

Legal sports betting is expected to generate upwards of $200 million in business activity and more than $30 million in tax dollars, according to estimates from Dennis Hoffman, professor of economics at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

Those projections line up with the Arizona Department of Gaming, which expects about $34.2 million in revenue going to the General Fund by the 2024 fiscal year.

Money going to the General Fund will likely be used for state services to help residents.

About the Author

Christopher Boan for Bookies.com
Christopher Boan
Christopher Boan has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, with stops at ArizonaSports.com, Tucson Weekly and Green Valley News.
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