Sports wagering still hasn’t begun in Arizona, but that hasn’t stopped professional sports franchises from preparing for that startup when it occurs later this year.
Caesars Entertainment, which acquired the William Hill franchise in Nevada, announced last week that it is partnering with the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball to place a sportsbook, sports bar and a broadcast studio at the location formerly known as Game 7 Grill on the Plaza at Chase Field, the Diamondbacks’ home stadium. The deal additionally enables Caesars/William Hill to provide mobile wagering within the state.
The new deal has spurred conversation about whether stadium sportsbooks should be considered in Nevada.
The legislation for sports wagering in the Grand Canyon State offers licenses for 20 locations — 10 for Arizona sports franchises and 10 for tribal casinos.
The state’s major franchises include the Diamondbacks, the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals based at State Farm Stadium in Glendale; the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes who play at Gila River Arena, not far from the football stadium; and the NBA’s Phoenix Suns who play at downtown Phoenix Suns Arena.
That leaves room for other potential sportsbook-supporting venues involved in PGA tournaments and Phoenix Raceway, the home of an annual NASCAR Cup race.
There are 20 Indian tribes based in the state, from the Apaches to the Zunis, with some of them already closely engaged with the state’s sports community. It shouldn’t take long for the state to sort out who will be sportsbook licensees.
The new Arizona sports venue sportsbook model has generated new conversations about whether sportsbooks should be located in Nevada stadiums.
Jeremy Aguero, whose Applied Analysis firm serves as the staff for the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, said he has heard some of the conversations about stadium sportsbooks.
“I think, from the beginning, it was determined that Allegiant Stadium was going to be neutral ground for sports wagering and that’s why it has been written into our agreements that there won’t be gambling devices installed on stadium property,” Aguero said. “It hasn’t been brought up as a proposal by anybody, but that doesn’t mean that couldn’t happen at some point.”
The likely reason it hasn’t come up is that the sports wagering market in Las Vegas is vastly different from Arizona’s and other places where in-stadium sportsbooks have been developed, such as Washington, D.C.
Nevada has several sportsbooks close to our stadiums. Mandalay Bay and Luxor have their BetMGM books in those casinos.
New York-New York and Park MGM are next door to T-Mobile Arena where the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights play. Red Rock Resort is near Las Vegas Ballpark, home of Triple-A baseball’s Aviators, and, when it opens, the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights’ Dollar Loan Center arena will be near Green Valley Ranch. The Knights’ current home is at Orleans Arena, which has its own book.
It’s also true that most serious sports bettors have at least one or two sportsbook apps on the phones in their pockets and bettors are able to make wagers whenever they want during a game. The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported last month that more than 60 percent of sports wagers were made with an app in March.
Aguero concedes that it’s always possible something would change the dynamic that could lead to changing the rules at Allegiant Stadium. He said the Las Vegas Raiders haven’t initiated any requests for sports betting at the stadium.
What could change that? Possibly new sports wagering legislation in California. If California’s NFL teams — the Rams, Chargers and 49ers — could create a financial advantage over the Raiders with an in-stadium sportsbook sponsorship, there could be a conversation about evening the playing field.
Right now, that looks like a long shot at best considering that California has yet to legalize sports betting and the direction California tribes want that to go.
Tribes have submitted an initiative petition that calls for sports betting at California’s 69 tribal casinos and four commercial racetracks, a measure that would be on the state’s 2022 ballot.
Professional sports teams, meanwhile, are considering their own sports-betting initiative.
There’s no clear path as to how or if sports betting would arrive in California.