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Arizona regulator receives 25 bids for sports betting licenses

Arizona sports betting news

Arizona sports betting entered the homestretch this week after the state regulator announced the commencement of the initial qualification evaluation period for wagering licenses.

On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) kicked off the initial evaluation process for sports betting permits, pushing preparations for the anticipated September 9 launch into the final stages.

The Department started receiving bids for the 20 available licenses in the state on July 26, the same day the final rules for operators were published. The initial application period, which lasted two weeks, closed on Monday, paving the way for the regulator to start assessing the applications and award permits to qualified operators.

According to the Department, 25 businesses have expressed interest in joining the state’s regulated industry, which means that there are more applicants than available permits.

The initial evaluation process will last five days, with qualified bidders set to notified by Monday, August 16.

What happens now?

Of the 25 gaming entities that have submitted bids for sports betting licenses, 10 are professional sports organizations, while 15 are tribal gaming operators.

The state’s gambling law allows the regulator to issue a maximum of 20 combined permits for retail and online wagering, split evenly between the pro sports organizations and gaming tribes. This means that five tribes will be missing out a permit despite being eligible to offer the vertical.

From the look of things, however, it appears that the Department of Gaming had anticipated a situation like the current one during the process of finalizing the licensing rules.

On July 16, the regulator held a virtual public comment meeting to discuss permit allocation for AZ sports betting. Among the items on the agenda was a list of 19 guidelines that the department intended to use to award permits in case there were more applicants than the number of licenses available.

These guidelines range from assessing an applicant’s financial stability, to evaluating their track record in other markets, and history of contributions to communities in the state. The regulator is also set to look at the entities’ consumer protection policies, level of responsiveness, internal controls systems, and willingness to make further investments in Arizona.

It is expected that the Department will use these guidelines when making allocation decision for the tribal gaming permits.

ADG continues to work towards September launch

As the targeted go-live date for Arizona sports betting approaches, the state’s Department of Gaming has released a timetable reaffirming its commitment to launch the market on September 9 as initially planned.

According to the timeline, the initial evaluation process will be followed by an eight-day allocation period that is set to start on August 17. During this period, the Department will assess the bids selected in the first phase of the process, and allocate permits to the most suitable applicants.

Those who will be awarded licenses will be notified by August 27, allowing them to start creating and marketing their apps to bettors in the state starting August 28.

A recent market survey carried out in the state reveals that about 22% of Arizonians plan to place bets with licensed sportsbooks when the regulated market takes off, with over half saying that they will partake in the activity at least weekly.

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