Party Like It’s 1797: AZ Online Sports Betting Heads To Governor’s Desk

az governor doug ducey smiling at podium

Another day, another state on the cusp of legal domestic sports betting!

While we’d like to see more states offer domestic iGaming to offer some fresh competition for the best international online casinos, the approach for expanded gambling in the United States so far seems to center on sports betting.

Some states – most recently Michigan – are going all in on online gambling by legalizing iGaming, online USA poker, and sports betting in one fell swoop, but these are the exceptions to the rule.

To date, only a handful of states have made online casino games legal, while upwards of 25 have legalized (or are in the final stages of legalizing) online sports betting.

The latest state to put a bill before its governor to open domestic sports betting services is Arizona, with the AZ Senate voting to legalize the popular pastime on Monday afternoon.

Governor Doug Ducey (R) cheered the developments in a pair of tweets:

The bill, SB 1797, got overwhelming support in the upper chamber, with 23 AZ senators voting in favor and only three senators voting in opposition.

Previously, the AZ House version (HB 2772) passed by an almost identical margin, 48-12.

The Arizona sports betting law is strongly bipartisan, which is a rarity in today’s contentious political environment.

Most analysts believe that the bill could be signed into law by Ducey before the week is out, though it might be delayed until next week. But his signature, in either case, is a foregone conclusion.

Regardless of when the bill is signed, the goal for the state is to have online sports betting up and running in time for the start of the 2021 NFL season, which is the US betting market’s bread and butter.

The next NFL season kicks off on September 9, which gives operators in the state just under five months to get their licenses sorted out and their services off the ground.

The law currently provides for 10 commercial sports betting licenses. Notably, these are allowed to be set up physically within actual sporting venues.

That means that Diamondbacks fans will be able to place wagers while watching games live at Chase Field, NBA fans will be able to do the same at Phoenix Suns Arena, and Cardinals fans – likely the biggest bettors of all – will be able to wager in person (or online) at State Farm Stadium.

But even more notably than that is the fact that Arizona is the first US state to authorize online gambling that is specifically operated by professional teams or sports venues.

Per the language of the bill, the following franchises and facilities will be able to partner with domestic sportsbook operators, with other teams or venues able to apply for the four unclaimed commercial sports gambling licenses:

  • Arizona Cardinals (NFL)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)
  • Phoenix Suns (NBA)
  • Arizona Coyotes (NHL)
  • TPC Scottsdale (PGA)
  • Phoenix Raceway (NASCAR)

Of course, given that any new legislation on the sports betting front required cooperation from Arizona’s many tribal nations, 10 additional sports betting licenses will be granted to Indian casinos and gambling venues operating in the state.

Another huge part of SB 1797 is that the law formally legalizes DFS. Before now, daily fantasy sports was actually against the law in Arizona.

In most states, even where DFS is not specifically authorized, the industry exists in a sort of legal gray area, allowing major brands like DraftKings and FanDuel to accept members from said regions.

However, neither brand has been able to accept AZ residents, which will change immediately upon the governor’s signature.

Since there’s significant overlap between online sports bettors and DFS players – and since the best online sportsbooks operating internationally do not offer DFS action – this is a particularly exciting development.

Now, even if you’re already established at offshore betting sites and have no real interest in or find no great benefit to placing local sports bets (and incurring a non-trivial vigorish or “house take” upcharge), you’ll still have something to enjoy that was previously inaccessible.

Once SB 1797 is passed into law, the Arizona Department of Gaming will be tasked with refining the regulations and licensing standards for each interested party, which is expected to take upwards of three months.

Source: ABC News