BetMGM Secures Arizona Sports Betting License, DraftKings Says It’s ‘Coming Soon!’

  • BetMGM said August 26 it had received its official Arizona sports betting license from the ADG
  • DraftKings Sportsbook hasn’t made an official announcement but said it was “coming soon”
  • FanDuel and Penn National Gaming already have their Arizona sports betting licenses in hand
  • The race to launch legal sports betting by September 9 has moved fast since April legislation
  • With 15 tribal operators applying for just ten sports betting licenses, the unsuccessful could sue
Football on fire in front of Arizona flag
As the timer counts down to the proposed September 9 launch of legal sports betting in Arizona, BetMGM has announced it has received its license from the Arizona Department of Gaming. [Image:]

Third sportsbook to be licensed

As the start of 2021-22 National Football League (NFL) season fast approaches, BetMGM has become the third high-profile sportsbook to get into prime market position in Arizona after it received its official sports betting license.

BetMGM broke the news via a press release August 26 that it had gotten Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) approval to launch when legal sports betting launches in the state. September 9, the day the NFL season kicks off, is the date the state has set to go live.

While not issuing any official statement, DraftKings Sportsbook took to Twitter yesterday to tantalize Arizonans with a “coming soon” message.

FanDuel and Penn National Gaming, via its Barstool Sportsbook, already have their Arizona sports betting licenses in hand. With the ADG announcing August 25 that approved mobile sports betting operators can also open up account creation and funding and start marketing themselves, it’s a time-critical window for sportsbooks hoping to gain an all-important market share ahead of their rivals.

an exciting day here at BetMGM to get the official sign off to launch on day one”

Reflecting this mood was BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt, who said it was “an exciting day here at BetMGM to get the official sign off to launch on day one of sports betting in Arizona.”

Arizona sports betting Gold Rush

In its press release, the company said that pre-registration in Arizona for the BetMGM app will start August 28.

An indicator of the Gold Rush-esque scramble for Arizona sports betting licenses was BetMGM’s recent retail and online partnerships with Gila River Hotels & Casinos and the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. A highlight of the August 9 double deal saw retail BetMGM sportsbooks scheduled for the three Gila River tribal casino properties in Arizona and another brick-and-mortar venue to be built at the Cardinal’s State Farm Stadium home.

Greenblatt talked up the twin Gila-Cardinals partnerships and the benefits associated with links to BetMGM Resorts’ US properties as promising “many exciting things […] for sports fans in Arizona.”

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2272 into law on April 15, 2021. The legislation works in conjunction with an updated tribal compact and gives the state’s tribal casinos and professional sports entities the right to offer retail and online wagering.

The race to launch legal sports betting by September 9 in Arizona has run at almost dizzying speed since HB 2272. Central to this rapid fast-tracking is the work done by the ADG. For some operators, however, it can’t move quickly enough. At the ADG’s second event wagering and fantasy sports operations meeting on August 25, many operators, including DraftKings, were asking questions that revealed that they were still in the approval process.

Countdown to September 9

In addition to announcing approved sportsbooks could start signing up customers and promoting themselves, the ADG on August 25 also confirmed that approved daily fantasy sports operators can go live in Arizona on August 28. FanDuel intends to launch its daily fantasy product in Arizona on Saturday and already has an account signup page live online, which also promotes its sportsbook.

While major players in the Arizona space — BetMGM, FanDuel, Penn National and, pending its official announcement, DraftKings — are all in line to hit the sports betting gridiron running on September 9, some tribal operators face disappointment.

There are only 20 sports betting licenses available in Arizona. Half go to professional sports entities, such as BetMGM’s partner the Cardinals. The other ten licenses are for tribal operators. With 15 tribal gaming operators in the license application hat, however, five stand to miss out. A government-facing director of a commercial firm has posited that, if the tribes left holding the bag decide to sue the state, it could delay the launch of legal sports betting in Arizona.

The ADG has to decide by August 27 which ten tribal operators it will award licenses to.

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