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Sports Betting Licenses Issued in Arizona; Lawsuit Filed

Christopher Boan for Bookies.com

Christopher Boan  | 4 mins

Sports Betting Licenses Issued in Arizona; Lawsuit Filed

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A major hurdle in the Arizona sports betting rollout was cleared Friday, as the Arizona Department of Gaming approved 18 licenses. However, a new issue has emerged.

The issuing of the sports betting licenses comes a day after a lawsuit was filed by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe seeking to delay the licenses and the start of sports betting in the state.

The department was tasked with allocating the available licenses, and 10 went to state-based tribes and eight went to professional sports teams or venues. The ADG had been planning 10 for tribes and 10 for pro teams. The ADG needed an extra eight business days to complete the licensing process, after 24 applications were filed for licensure, triggering an extension of the deadline, from Aug. 16 to Friday.

Legal sports betting in Arizona is scheduled to start on Sept. 9, in time for the start of NFL betting. Naturally, sportsbooks and betting apps want to launch that day to take advantage of the expected enthusiasm for the NFL season.

In the end, six professional sports teams from the Phoenix area received licenses — the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League (Rush Street Interactive/BetRivers); Arizona Cardinals (BetMGM/Gila River Community); Arizona Diamondbacks (Caesars); Phoenix Suns (FanDuel); Phoenix Mercury (Bally’s) and the Arizona Coyotes.

Additional licenses were awarded to TPC Scottsdale (DraftKings) and Phoenix International Raceway (Penn National Gaming/Barstool Sports).

Ten Arizona tribes wound up receiving sports betting operator’s licenses — Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (SuperBook Sports); Navajo Nation; Quechan Tribe (Unibet) Tonto Apache Tribe (Churchill Downs/TwinSpires); Tohono O’odham Nation; Hualapai Tribe (Golden Nugget); AK-Chin Indian Community (Fubo Gaming); San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe (Digital Gaming); San Carlos Apache Tribe (WynnBET) and Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation.

"While many applicants had a partner, it was not a requirement,” according to an ADG spokesperson.

That left some operators, such as PointsBet (Yavapai-Apache Nation/Cliff Castle Casino Hotel) and Scientific Games (Pascua Yaqui Tribe/Casino Del Sol) without licenses.

What the Lawsuit Says

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe has filed a civil lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court seeking an injunction. It lists Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt as defendants.

There are 22 federally recognized tribes in Arizona, 16 of which operate casinos. A main sticking point for the tribe, according to a news release, is the compact’s limited number of sportsbook licenses for tribes, in addition to the way in which the legislature passed the measure.

The tribe’s suit alleges that Ducey and Vogt illegally passed Arizona House Bill 2772, which was signed into law on April 15, 2021. The tribe’s suit says that the bill is unconstitutional, as it illegally undermines the state’s legislative process and hurt certain tribes in Arizona, according to a tribe-issued press release.

The tribe says its goal in filing the suit is to force the department to issue a restraining order and/or injunction to stop the issuing of sports betting licenses until the suit is decided. According to the court website, a hearing is set for Sept. 3.

Early Registration Offers in Arizona

Several sports betting operators are offering early registration deals, including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars and WynnBet. Most of the deals launched at 12:01 a.m. Saturday Arizona time, though some may not be available to bettors until early next week.

  • DraftKings is allowing users to place up to $150 in free bets upon early registration and has an acquisition offer of 20% first-deposit match up to $1,000. Both deals can be used simultaneously.
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  • For FanDuel, users can $100 in site credit if they take advantage of early registration, in addition to getting up to $1,000 in risk-free bets as the company’s acquisition offer. The company is also allowing users to take advantage of both deals.
  • BetMGM’s early registration deal includes $200 in free bets plus up to $1,000 in free bets as its acquisition offer. They do not allow users to utilize both deals at the same time. Users can access discounts by entering the promotional code "BOOKIES" when prompted.
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  • Caesars is offering an early registration package that includes $100 in free bets, with an acquisition deal of $5,000 in risk free bets. Enter the promotional code ‘BOOKIESRF’ to take advantage of the deals.
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  • WynnBet has not revealed its early registration and acquisition offers but has confirmed to Bookies.com that both will be offered to users ahead of the launch of sports betting on Sept. 9 in Arizona.

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.