Arizona Could See 40 Mobile Sports Betting Operators Instead of 20

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Arizona sports betting may have as many as 40 online sports betting sites against the initially expected number of 20 online operators.

The surprising move came Wednesday when the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) held three virtual open comment sessions covering the second draft of event wagering, fantasy sports, and digital pari-mutuel wagering rules as the state plans to launch by the fall.

The ADG concluded the day by confirming the possibility for event wagering operators to have two mobile platforms in specific situations. However, some stakeholders opposed the idea that could practically double the number of mobile operators to 40.

As the updated rules will be released a few weeks from now, the key question remains whether an event wagering operator will have more than one digital site.

Who is Opposing?

The topic of the additional mobile skins grabbed the most attention during the meeting. Some sports franchises said they would prefer only one mobile skin per event wagering operator license against the proposition of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, which argued for two.

Representatives from some sportsbooks, however, asked for further clarity regarding the issue.

Amilyn Pierce, VP of Government Affairs for the Arizona Diamondbacks, said during the session Wednesday, “Our belief was the license would never allow more than one mobile platform.”

Pierce said the Phoenix-based professional baseball team will continue to raise concerns for that in its opinion that essentially just allows for two online licenses. “Our concerns remain the same.”

How To Get a Second Platform?

San Carlos Apache Tribe – which has recently partnered with WynnBET – or any event wagering operator that is qualified to have a second platform can apply for it through a written request to the state’s Department of Gaming for approval. The operator must run its second platform on the same hardware and system as its first platform.

However, everyone will have one platform to start with before applying for a second platform.

Some local sports franchises consider the new changes an unfavorable interpretation of Arizona sports betting which was signed into law in April.

Pierce said they embrace the idea of co-branding. “So, Caesars plus the Diamondbacks (on one site), but we’re not OK with multiple skins.”

She further said that originally the idea was meant to mean one for online and one for retail. It was never to allow more than one mobile platform, adding that the franchise-led opposition will persist in the future. NASCAR and the PGA Tour are also against the two mobile platforms.

What Happened on Wednesday?

Wednesday’s session came days almost a week after the ADG announced the second draft of the rules on July 2, saying it would hold three additional open session meetings to allow stakeholders to comment on the second set of draft rules.

The ADG accepted written public comments through its site till Wednesday night. The updated rules will be published in the coming weeks, according to an ADG spokesperson.

Sessions were divided into four categories:

  • policy rules (and number of operators), licensing fees, and licensing allocation
  • internal controls and league data
  • Systems/platforms, integrity/security assessments, events/bets, and player accounts
  • Promotions/bonuses, accounting/auditing, and player issues

As many as 12 representatives/stakeholders provided comments, feedback, and suggestions – including Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Coyotes, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Major League Baseball, San Carlos Apache Tribe, Sportradar, and Penn Interactive.

The Copper State plans to launch in time for NFL sports betting on Sept. 9.

How Have We Reached Here?

The new Arizona sports betting law allows for mobile and retail betting and 10 event wagering operator licenses, each for professional sports franchises and the state’s tribes. In total, there will be 20 event wagering licenses.

Arizona lawmakers passed HB 2772 with an emergency clause attached to ensure a speedy process for a timely launch before Gov. Doug Ducey signed the measure along with the tribal compact on April 15. The Department of the Interior approved the state’s new tribal gaming pact in May, paving the way for a timely launch.

Though the application process has not opened, several partnerships have already been reached. So far, FanDuel (NBA Suns), DraftKings (PGA TPC Scottsdale), Caesars (MLB Diamondbacks), Bally’s (WNBA Mercury), Kindred (Quechan Tribe), and WynnBET (San Carlos Apache Tribe) have obtained market access.

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