A few open slots

The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) has announced that it will take applications for at least two more sports betting licenses. The application window will be open from February 16 to March 4.

According to the ADG’s press release on Tuesday, one license will go to an Arizona tribe and “no less than one” license will go to a professional sports franchise.

Legal sports betting went live in the state on September 9, 2021 and was an immediate hit; in the first four months, $1.75 billion was wagered in Arizona. State law permits up to 20 sports betting licenses, ten for tribes and ten for professional sports franchises (sports franchises in this case include both teams and venues, like the Phoenix Speedway). There are currently 16 online operators in Arizona, split equally between teams and pro sports franchises.

The list of operators and their partners is as follows (courtesy of the ADG):

Unibet (Quechan Tribe)
WynnBet (San Carlos Apache Tribe)
BetMGM (Arizona Cardinals)
DraftKings (TPC Scottsdale)
Fanduel (Phoenix Suns)
ESPN Bet (Phoenix Speedway)
Caesars (Arizona Diamondbacks)
RSI/BetRivers (Arizona Rattlers)
Superbook (Fort Mojave Indian Tribe)
SaharaBets (Arizona Coyotes)
Betfred (Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation)
Golden Nugget (Hualapai Tribe)
Hard Rock Digital (Navajo Nation)
BetWay (San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe)
Desert Diamond Mobile LLC (Tohono O’odham Nation)
Bally’s (Phoenix Mercury)

Will Fanatics make a push?

All ten tribal licenses were originally taken when Arizona sports betting launched, though now there are just nine. The ninth belongs to Bet365, which partnered with the Ak-Chin Indian Community – obviously, looking at the above list, Bet365 has yet to launch.

Thus, there is one tribal license and two professional sports licenses remaining. The ADG clearly wants to award one of the ones to a pro team and is open to issuing both remaining pro team licenses.

One would think that Fanatics will throw its hat into the ring, as it is the only significant betting operator that is not active in Arizona. The company acquired PointsBet’s US business in May 2023 for $150 million for the express purpose of establishing a foothold in the American market.

PointsBet actually got a license in 2021, partnering with the Yavapai-Apache Nation and the Cliff Castle Casino, but it was rescinded. The ADG cited an “administrative error” by an employee who had no knowledge of the license issuing decisions and thus issued the license by mistake.

At the time, PointsBet, while both disappointed and perturbed, said it was not going to give up an trying to get a license in Arizona. Of course, PointsBet is now out of the picture, but it would be surprising if Fanatics did not give it a go.

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