The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADOG) has granted a coveted event wagering license to British operator Bet365. This decision, made in partnership with the Ak-Chin Indian Community, is set to deliver the 17th Arizona online sportsbook to the state’s bettors.
Bet365 is busily expanding across the U.S. after establishing itself as one of the UK and Europe’s biggest bookmakers. Its multimillionaire founder, Denise Coates, has been one of England’s biggest individual taxpayers of recent years.
Bet365 is currently live in Colorado, Iowa, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia. It will be opening in Kentucky next month, as part of the state’s market launch. The operator had planned a Massachusetts service in collaboration with the state’s Raynham Park racetrack. But after several controversies with the track, it dropped out of the deal.
The Arizona Bet365 opening has no firm date, although state regulations mandate the launch has to be no later than 180 days after the license is issued.
The Ak-Chin Indian community previously partnered with Fubo Sportsbook, which closed last year. That left a gap in the licensing landscape which Bet365 has now filled.
A Competitive Licensing Landscape
ADOG had previously opened an application window with the potential to license two professional sports franchises and one tribe. However, the specifics of the applicants remained undisclosed.
Interestingly, the United Soccer League’s Phoenix Rising FC, initially anticipated to apply for a license, did not meet the qualifying standards in the first round of applications in 2021. The team was absent from this round of applications, despite paying the hefty $100,000 initial application fee.
Arizona’s approach to sports betting licensing has been distinct. When event wagering was legalized two years ago, lawmakers set a cap of 20 licenses, equally divided between professional sports franchises and tribes.
Currently, there are eight licensed pro franchises and nine tribal partners. That leaves two pro franchise licenses available and one tribal license.
On the tribal side, all 10 licenses for the state’s 15+ gaming tribes were claimed in the first licensing round. Two of them have since become available again.
Now that Bet365 has snapped one up, only the vacant spot left by WynnBET is open. The struggling sports betting arm of Wynn Resorts announced it was leaving eight state markets earlier this month, including Arizona.
Arizona’s Market Attraction
Operator licenses for the Arizona sports betting market are hotly contested, as it is one of the fastest- growing in the country.
The state’s bettors posted an impressive $393 million handle in June, with $27.6 million in revenues. It was the 9th state to pass the $11 billion mark in total handle since the era of legalization began in 2018.
The market is also interesting to operators because the state’s bettors have a track record of giving more attention to smaller operators. Despite FanDuel and DraftKings dominating the state, as they do across the U.S., Arizona’s own Desert Diamond Sportsbook has shone brightly through the figures in recent months.
While nowhere on the level of the top two, it has shown that independent online sportsbooks can sometimes compete with the national and international operators.
That could be good for Bet365, which — while a giant in its own right — doesn’t have the U.S. market name recognition of FanDuel or DraftKings, or even Caesars Sportsbook and BetMGM.
As for who will replace WynnBET when the next round of licenses is announced, a good bet could be Fanatics. The sports merchandise come bookmaker is expanding rapidly across the country, and its recently acquired PointsBet brand doesn’t have an Arizona license, either.
Another potential entrant to the market is the upcoming Penn Entertainment-backed ESPN Sportsbook. Penn intends to rebrand its Barstool Sportsbook brand into the ESPN ‘book, and Barstool already has a license in Arizona.