Arizona officials are projecting a Sept. 9 sports betting launch and are still on pace for one of the nation’s quickest turnarounds from bill signing to first bet.
Max Hartgraves, public information officer for the Arizona Department of Gaming, confirmed in an email to The Action Network this week that state regulators were working toward an early September launch. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the state’s sports betting bill in April.
Iowa and Indiana are among a handful of states with a similar turnaround timeline. Some states have taken more than a year.
Like all other commercial sports betting states, Arizona regulators must finalize rules then license each individual sportsbook operator. Though Ducey’s signature means sports betting is technically “legal” in the state, sportsbooks can not accept bets until they meet every state regulatory requirement.
Rules Making Process
Arizona officials are now taking on the rule-making process to begin legal sports betting.
The ADG is finalizing rules for both sportsbooks and daily fantasy operators, which were both approved under the 2021 law. Though the bill itself lays out key legal frameworks for sportsbooks, including tax rates and certain event eligibility, state regulators under the ADG are tasked with assuring follow-up sportsbook rules and consumer protections are in place.
The ADG rules outline many key regulations not included in the original bill. For example, the 2021 law allows bets on college programs, but it is up to regulators to decide which leagues, sports and divisions are eligible.
Rulemakers can also enact substantial payment, employment and security measures that may not be apparent to most bettors but are critical to the legal market’s success. The 2021 gaming bill specifically tasks the ADG to evaluate applicants for license suitability, conduct background checks, audit operators and develop sports betting standards and procedures, among other responsibilities.
Arizona officials plan to announce their initial sports betting and daily fantasy draft rules June 14. As in most other states, members of the public have a right to comment on the rules after their publication.
The ADG expects to end the public comment period June 21. From there, regulators will consider revisions and pursue any changes. Once officials have finalized all regulations, the department will prepare sportsbooks for the targeted Sept. 9 launch date.
Sports Betting Details
Arizona’s sports betting bill is in addition to a new gaming compact that allows 19 sovereign tribal nations to open retail sportsbooks. These tribal provisions were approved by the federal Department of the Interior in May and are not under the same regulatory purview as online books.
Federal law prohibits tribes from accepting online sports bets. Instead, Arizona’s 2021 sports betting bill permits up to ten tribes to apply for an online sportsbook license under the ADG. For online sportsbooks, the tribes will act like commercial operators.
They will be joined by multiple professional sport organizations, which are also permitted sportsbook licenses under the bill. That includes the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Coyotes, Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, PGA TOUR and NASCAR.
All sportsbooks will need to pass licensure requirements and inspection, including geolocation services. ADG officials are responsible for making sure eligible bettors are physically within state lines when placing a bet, in compliance with state and federal law.
Top national brands such as FanDuel, DraftKings and Caesars have already announced sportsbook partnerships and will likely launch on or near the go-live date. These three, and most other operators expected to apply for Arizona licensure, have passed approvals in multiple other states.
Every indication from Arizona regulators indicates these books, and possibly more, are on pace for the targeted Sept. 9 launch.
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