The U.S. Department of the Interior approved a gaming compact between Arizona and its Indian tribes on Monday, allowing the state to take another step towards offering sports betting before the NFL season begins.

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced the approval of the compact on Monday. The department had 45 days to approve, deny or take no action on the gaming compact. The approval of the compact came ahead of its deadline, which puts the state and the tribes in an optimal position to launch Arizona sports betting before the NFL season begins in September.

“That is definitely where we’re headed at this point. The Arizona Department of Gaming will now be issuing rules and such and hopefully, we’ll be in great shape for kickoff,” Arizona State Senator T.J. Shope told Action Rush.

Approved Compact Circumvents Online Sports Betting Legal Issues

The approved compact includes expanded gaming and retail sports betting for the 10 tribes in the state. Online sports betting for the tribes will be under the regulatory umbrella of the state and was included in the original sports betting bill approved in April. Federal legislation and court rulings have often ruled against tribal online sportsbooks, so by placing the tribal online sports betting program under state purview it did not have to be included in the gaming compact.

Arizona has made rapid progress on its sports betting program since the approval of its bill and signing into law. The approved Arizona online sports betting plan allows for as many as 20 licenses, split evenly between Arizona professional sport franchises and Native American tribes in the state who have signed the most recent tribal-state gaming compact. The bill allows Arizona’s professional sport franchises to run sportsbook at their facilities and partner with online sportsbook operators.

Several Sportsbook Partnerships Have Already Been Made

The state has already announced several partnerships between its professional sport franchises and established sportsbooks. Both FanDuel and DraftKings have already agreed to partnerships with in-state professional sports franchises to operate retail and online sportsbooks. DraftKings will expand its existing commercial relationship with the PGA Tour to bring retail and mobile sports betting to Arizona, pending regulatory approval. In addition to online sports betting, DraftKings announced plans to construct a retails sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale.

FanDuel announced a partnership with the Phoenix Suns to build a luxury 6,300 square-foot in-arena sportsbook for the 2021-2022 NBA season. In addition to a full-service ticket window and self-service kiosks within the sportsbook, fans will be able to place bets throughout Phoenix Suns Arena on their mobile devices during game days and other hosted sporting events.

William Hill is also a safe bet to be an option for the state. Robert Miguel, chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community, noted in a National Indian Gaming Association interview that the Ak-Chin Tribe will explore retail and online sports betting for its Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino. Harrah’s is owned by Caesars Entertainment, which recently acquired William Hill.

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Robert Linnehan
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