As the official launch date of sports betting in the biggest state in the West that legalized wagering to date is fast approaching, the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) came up with a new set of criteria for granting licenses.
The ADG released the new set of license criteria in a 2-page document ahead of its meeting Friday, giving all interested parties an abbreviated period until midnight Friday to submit comments on the proposal.
Much to the surprise of the tribes, which were expecting the allocation of event wagering licenses to take place via a lottery system, the ADG said that qualified applicants with a presence in the state will receive preference in the process. Having partners with a presence in the state will also be evaluated as an advantage by the regulator.
Last month, the ADG proposed for public discussions an initial set of regulations, with all consultation periods in the process being abbreviated due to the emergency provisions in the sports betting bill.
With 15 tribes operating 22 tribal casinos in the state and only 10 licenses available for tribal operations, the criteria put forth by the ADG suggests the distribution of wagering permits among “ non-gaming tribes, rural gaming tribes, and to tribes located relatively near metropolitan areas in the state” will be preferred.
Tribes Will Be Left Out
Seeking to achieve parity between tribal and commercial gaming interests, Arizona lawmakers approved 10 licenses for the tribes, 10 for commercial operators, and as many for professional sports franchises, deciding the fate of 5 tribes that operate casinos but will not be able to offer sports betting.
Some of the biggest players in sports betting already entered into market access deals with Arizona tribes and sports franchises, including DraftKings via The PGA Tour, FanDuel in partnership with NBA’s Phoenix Suns, Bally’s via WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, Caesars Entertainment in partnership with MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks, Kindred via a deal with the Quechan Tribe, and WynnBet via a market access deal with the San Carlos Apache Tribe.
Further, Penn National is expected to partner with NASCAR at Phoenix Raceway to make its Barstool Sports brand the 7th to officially secure market access to the state.
Among the list of the 19 criteria for license allocation outlined by the ADG was the history of contributions to local communities and willingness for further investments in the state, how the applicant is perceived in other markets where it is operational, how it protects customers, level of responsiveness of the company, the strength of internal controls, financial stability and others.