Place Your Bets: Arizona Launches Legal Sports Wagering

Place Your Bets: Arizona Launches Legal Sports Wagering
© USA Today

A new market for sportsbook operators and millions of sports fans opened at 12:01 a.m. local time Thursday when Arizona sports betting went live.

Six operators launched in the state from the outset:

Barstool Sportsbook could join them and TwinSpires Arizona is expected to launch soon, while the other licensees will open shop in the state later.


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The Arizona Department of Gaming issued licenses for 18 operators on Aug. 27, 10 of which are partnered with state-based tribes and another eight with Arizona professional sports teams.

The rollout process survived a legal hurdle on Labor Day, when Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith would not issue an injunction to stop the launch. The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe to this point has not appealed Smith’s ruling, paving the way for Thursday’s on-time launch.

More important, it launched in time for NFL betting in the state. The first game Thursday night has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys.


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From Bill to Launch

In February, Arizona House Bill 2772 was introduced in the state legislature. The legislation – 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.

On April 15, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law, not only legalizing sports betting, but expanding Arizona gambling options to include daily fantasy sports and Keno games.

The law allowed the state’s tribes and sports teams to begin the process to apply for the 20 available licenses.

“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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What Sports Betting Could Mean to AZ

Somewhere between $30 million and $35 million in tax dollars is estimated to end up in the state’s coffers by the 2024 fiscal year. Dennis Hoffman, professor of economics at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, sees sports betting generating upwards of $200 million in business activity and more than $30 million in taxes.

His projections are favorable to what the Arizona Department of Gaming estimated. The department projected about $34 million annually for the General Fund from legalized sports betting.

“… The question is, will (sports betting) generate any residual or multiplier effects economically? I would make the case that if the alternative is spending that money on an offshore account, then it’s going to be a net positive to keep that money (in Arizona),” Hoffman said. “So, you’ve got to keep in mind that all this money might have been leaking out to other states or countries, and now we’re collecting taxes on it and it’s staying in Arizona.

”So, all that is a good thing, economically speaking.”


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