The Arizona Department of Gaming wrapped up two public meetings on the Arizona sports betting bill after two days of testimony on the state’s proposed sports betting program.
The department held two virtual sessions to discuss concerns for event wagering. Written comments were accepted by the department until 11:59 p.m., Monday, June 21. ADG Director Ted Vogt said the comments will be reviewed by the department and update event wagering rules will be published by early July.
“We’ll take the feedback we’ve received, generate a new set of draft rules, and put them out for public comment. Hopefully with this session we’ve identified and resolved any of the issues and we’ll put that out for a brief public comment period again. Our goal is to have final rules up and running by early July so we can hit that Sept. 9 go-live date for event wagering. Once we’ve got that new draft of rules, we’ll update the timeline so people have a better idea of how this will roll out,” Vogt said at the conclusion of Monday’s hearing.
Vogt noted that sports betting license fees and privilege fees will be included in the updated draft rules for both event wagering and fantasy sports contests.
Number of Available Online Betting Skins
A common concern among speakers across the two hearings was language in the proposed bill that left the number of available online betting skins ambiguous. Representatives from the state’s professional sports franchises, including the Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Coyotes, spoke out in favor of the proposed one online skin per license holder rule.
“In terms of entry into the mobile market, it was always the belief that it would be one skin allowed. It’s extremely important for us that this be specified in the rules going forward,” said Amilyn Pierce, Vice President, Government Affairs, of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the hearing.
The Diamondbacks currently have a partnership with Caesars to launch mobile sports betting and build a sportsbook and bar concept on the plaza adjacent to the team’s home, Chase Field.
It was always the understanding of the PGA that Arizona would only be allowed one skin per entity, David Miller, Vice President & Assistant General Counsel at PGA, said at the hearing. Clarity is needed in the bill regulations to ensure that each entity receive only one skin.
“I don’t know if a single skin market is better or worse for us, but I do know that was our understanding of the legislative intent,” he said.
DraftKings has partnered with TPC Scottsdale and the PGA Tour to bring retail and mobile sports betting to the course.
Under the bill’s outline the 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. There are currently six professional sports franchises in Arizona and 22 Native American tribes.
Additionally, 10 licenses for “limited event wagering operators” are available, but the holders need to partner with one of the 20 event wagering operators. The ADG is still working out the details for these limited operator licenses.
Apps Will Be Available Prior to Arizona Sports Betting Launch
Trevor Hayes, Head of Government Relations for William Hill, asked if Arizona customers would have the opportunity to download sportsbook apps prior to the official go-live date of the state’s sports betting plan. While the sportsbook apps would not be operational, Hayes noted it would be advantageous for marketing purposes for customers to be able to download the programs prior to the launch.
Vogt assured Hayes this would be possible.
“Our intent is to allow that. Once we go through the rules, we’ll come up with an updated timeline. I don’t believe this will be included in that draft, but we’ll communicate with everyone on that timeline and when we’ll allow that download,” he said.
The ADG will update its events wagering rules based on the feedback it received from the two hearings. The rules will be published and another brief public hearing will be held. After its amended rules are filed, the department will begin to prepare for the Sept. 9 go-live date.