Back in April, Arizona signed a bill that would officially legalize sports betting in various forms across the state. The move comes after initial resistance, and it still needs to go through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but the official green light is considered a formality. Why did Arizona make this move now? And what does this mean for the state and bettors moving forward? Let's talk about it.
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Welcome to the sports betting world, Arizona. You're about to join a long list of places in the United States to do so. It comes as no surprise Arizona's bill to legalize sports betting passed with swimming colors. If anything, the move was overdue.
So...What now? When will sports betting come to Arizona in an official capacity? And what will the impact be on the state? And like we already asked above, why now?
Impact Of Legal Sports Betting In Arizona
Let's start with the question of why first. The answer is simple: Arizona had no other choice.
Surrounding states already started pushing their own legislation through. Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and, of course, good ol' Nevada all have legal sports betting or passed bills that will soon legalize it. While some other states around Arizona haven't yet made the leap—most notably Utah and California—they were behind the eight-ball relative to their west-coast siblings.
Granted, this isn't the only reason why Arizona has okayed sports betting...
Legal Sports Betting A Response To The Pandemic
State budgets and economies are hurting in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Life as we know it is probably never going to be the same, and that's forced everyone to adjust.
The casino and sports betting industry, in particular, has been thrown for a whirl. With so many people working remotely, on top of the rise of online sportsbooks in general, physical locations can no longer expect the same amount of organic foot traffic in and out of the door. Business is more likely to be conducted via the internet.
Given all of this, it would be foolish not to legalize sports betting. Arizona, along with many other states, was already losing a ton of revenue opportunities to off-shore sportsbooks. They only figured to forfeit more business post-pandemic.
Sports Betting Will Pay Off In Arizona Big Time
Offering sports betting isn't just a means of capitalizing on shifting consumer tendencies, though. It's a way to also continue getting people in the door of casinos—and even sporting events.
Under Arizona's approved bill, not only will casinos be allowed to set up physical sportsbooks, but pro sports squads will be allowed to do the same. And local franchises are already taking advantage of the opportunity.
The Phoenix Suns have signed a partnership with FanDuel, like many other NBA teams, and the Arizona Diamondbacks plan to follow the lead of fellow MLB organizations by building a sportsbook within close proximity of their stadium. Expect other teams in the area—mainly the Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL and Arizona Cardinals of the NFL—to make similar plans.
By legalizing sports betting, then, Arizona is opening up one new revenue stream (online gambling) while incentivizing another one (on-location betting). This, in turn, is expected to pay off in a big way. Other states have reported nine figures of annual revenue from the taxes they extract from sportsbook operators, and Arizona isn't projected to be any different.
“I don’t think we’re talking about in the $10’s of millions," State Representative Jeff Weninger told ABC 15 in Arizona. "We’re talking about in the $100s of millions."
With that much money on the line, Arizona had no decision on its hands. It's more of wonder they didn't legalize sports betting sooner.
When Will Sports Betting Officially Come to Arizona?
Figuring out when sports betting will actually be offered in certain states can be difficult. Just because bills are passed doesn't mean the implementation will be immediate. Many places, such as Wyoming, don't have official start dates or concrete rollout plans.
Arizona is different. They have pegged September 2021 as the target date for the complete legalization and installment of sports betting. The timeline makes sense. September is when the NFL regular season kicks off, and American football is one of the most lucrative drivers of sports-betting revenue.
There is, however, a chance that sports betting hits Arizona even sooner than that. Because the Diamondbacks are in the middle of their season, they have the option of opening the doors on their on-site sportsbook should they have it operational prior to September.
Really, it all depends on how quickly the current bill passes through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Though the approval is considered a formality, Arizona itself will want to line up and license sports-betting operators, implement all the necessary restrictions on mobile apps and ensure casinos are running their sportsbooks up to state code before putting pen to paper on the final touches.
Still, bettors in Arizona can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The governor signed this bill in April. Months have already passed, which means the process is well underway.
Even if legal sports betting doesn't take effect in July or August, it is almost 100 percent certain that mobile and physical sportsbooks will be up and running before the start of fall.
Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one will work best for all your betting needs: