August 2, 2021 3 min read


TwinSpires Targets Arizona Market Access with the Tonto Apache

Horse racing and online wagering brand TwinSpires announced it entered into a partnership deal with the Tonto Apache Tribe to seek entry into the recently legalized sport betting market in Arizona.

Targeting Retail and Online Sports Betting

The partnership between the brand owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) and the tribe behind the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino in the Grand Canyon State will allow the sports betting operator to open a retail sportsbook at the tribal property.

“The team behind the most exciting two minutes in sports is thrilled to partner with the Tonto Apache Tribe and pursue offering our leading sportsbook product and promotions to sports fans throughout Arizona.”

Ian Williams, President, TwinSpires

Besides the retail venue at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino, the deal with the tribe will allow TwinSpires to launch its state-of-the-art online sportsbook in Arizona, subject to obtaining the required by state regulators gaming licenses and regulatory approvals.

“In conjunction with our world class partner, we look forward to supporting the local community and bringing more visitors to the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino and our beautiful county.”

Calvin Johnson, Chairman, Tonto Apache Tribe

Official Launch Day Approaching

Regulators in Arizona are currently considering licensing rules for incumbents after the state legalized sports betting in April, and are targeting an official launch for legal wagering on sports on September 9, 2021, in time for the new season of the National Football League (NFL).

The deal with the Tonto Apache opens a path to sports betting in the Grand Canyon State for the CDI-owned brand, but as state legislators approved only 10 licenses for tribal operators, 5 tribes out of the 15 operating casinos in the state, will have to be left out.

Unlike TwinSpires, major sportsbook players in the US, 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, and Penn Interactive via a deal with NASCAR and Phoenix Raceway, are seeking entry via a sports franchise partnership.

So far only Kindred’s Unibet and Wynn Resorts’ WynnBet entered into tribal market access deals, with the Quechan Tribe and the San Carlos Apache Tribe, respectively.

The TwinSpires brand, which is set to inherit BetAmerica after CDI announced it would shift towards a single brand strategy, is currently available across 6 states, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Michigan, with the transition in New Jersey, expected to complete in the third quarter of 2021.

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