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Arizona sports betting takes off on first day of NFL season

Cardinals NFL betting news

Sports betting is up and running in Arizona.

The Grand Canyon State’s sports wagering industry went live at 12:01 am on Thursday, with top sportsbook operators launching on the first day. Those who were cleared by the Arizona Gaming Commission to start accepting wagers on Thursday morning are DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBet and Unibet.

Arizona legalized online and retail sports betting in April this year, and the state regulator has beaten all odds to have the market go live by September 9, which is also the first day of the 2021/2022 NFL season.

The path to the legalization of sports betting in Arizona has not been an easy one.

Efforts to legislate the market started in 2019, but they were met with strong opposition from the state’s gaming tribes. The tribes remained opposed to propositions proposing the expansion of gambling beyond their establishments until last year when the industry was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Early this year, however, Governor Ducey and the tribal leaders reached a consensus and the tribes agreed to amend their gaming compacts with the state in the bid to increase their sources of revenue. The amendments would allow them to add sports betting to their gaming facilities as well as Vegas-style casino games like roulette and craps.

The agreement also saw the tribes allow the state’s lawmakers to push ahead with plans to legalize commercial sportsbooks. The bill legalizing the market, HB 2772, was introduced in the Arizona House in February, and it overcame several hurdles to clear the House and Senate in late March.

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Governor Ducey signed the legislation into law on April 15, paving the way for the ADG to start the process of licensing commercial and tribal-operated sportsbooks. The state regulator selected September 9 as the go-live date for the market, and its commissioners and staff have worked to a tight schedule to meet the deadline.

The build up to the launch also saw two tribes move to court to delay the process, but Judge James Smith dismissed the injunction request on Monday, green lighting the ADG to forge ahead with preparations for the Thursday opening.

The market has launched within less than six months, making AZ one of the few states US states to achieve the feat.

HB 2772 provides for 20 licenses for both online and retail operators, split evenly between the Arizona’s gaming tribes and professional sports teams and stadiums. However, all tribal-operated casinos can launch retail wagering.

The law also allows the state regulator to issue 10 retail-only permits to off-track betting parlors and racetracks.

So far, the ADG has issued 18 retail and online permits to eight professional sports organizations based in the state and 10 tribal-operated casinos.

The brands that have received approval from the state regulator to offer bookmaking services in the jurisdiction through partnerships with the tribes and pro sports teams and venues include, DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBet, Unibet, Golden Nugget, Barstool Sports, Twinspires, Fubo Gaming, SuperBook, BallyBet, Betway, BetRivers, and Betfred.

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