- BetMGM has announced a market access deal with the NFL Arizona Cardinals and Gila River Casinos.
- BetMGM will launch mobile sports betting in Arizona later this year.
- Additionally, BetMGM plans to open retail sportsbooks at the three Gila River gaming properties in the state as well as at the home field of the Arizona Cardinals, State Farm Stadium
Aside from the bizarre method of allocating gaming licenses that almost guarantees corruption and back room shenanigans, the Arizona sports betting marketplace is shaping up to be fairly decent. Hopefully, at some point the licensing process will be expanded beyond the state’s pro sports teams/leagues and the most politically juiced in tribal gaming operators. The good news is that if you don’t worry too much about how the sausage is being made behind the curtain Arizona will be in the top 1/3 of US sports betting jurisdictions. Players will have some choices and there will at least be a semi-competitive marketplace. Sadly, that’s how low the bar has been set.
One of the biggest dominoes in the state fell earlier today as the NFL Arizona Cardinals announced their sports betting plans. I watch this industry as closely as anyone and I still can’t figure out how we got from the NFL fighting tooth and nail to keep the US in the sports betting dark ages to franchises actually getting into the bookmaking business in such a short span of time. I know the easy answer is “$$$” but the 180 degree turn by the NFL was executed quickly and forcefully enough to cause whiplash. But I digress….the Arizona Cardinals are partnering with BetMGM and Gila River Hotels & Casinos. BetMGM will gain mobile access in Arizona through the deal as well as open sportsbooks at the state’s three Gila River gaming properties (Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte, and Vee Quiva). In addition, BetMGM is planning to open a retail presence at State Farm Stadium in time for the 2022 NFL season.
Here’s the tally of Arizona sportsbooks as it stands right now–he companies that have already announced plans to set up shop partnering with a tribal gaming interest in Arizona are BetMGM (Gila River Indian Community), PointsBet (Yavapai-Apache Nation), Caesars/William Hill (Ak-Chin Indian Community), Unibet parent company Kindred Group (Quechan Indian Tribe) and WynnBET (San Carlos Apache Tribe). Companies that are partnering with professional sports operations are BetMGM (Arizona Cardinals) Penn National gaming’s Barstool Sportsbook brand (NASCAR), Bally’s Corporation (WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury), DraftKings (PGA Tour), FanDuel (NBA’s Phoenix Suns) and Caesars once again, this time in partnership with the MLB Arizona Diamondbacks. Since Caesars already operates Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and have made a deal with the D-Backs maybe they’re planning to operate under their name as well as the William Hill brand in the state?
So far no word about sportbook partnership plans from the NHL Arizona Coyotes who are now the only major sports team in the state without a dance partner. They already have a sponsorship deal with the Gila River Hotels & Casinos and the Coyotes’ home arena is called the ‘Gila River Arena’ thanks to a naming rights deal with the tribal gaming company. With today’s BetMGM/Arizona Cardinals/Gila River announcement, however, the Yotes will have to look elsewhere for a sports betting partnership.
BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt is pleased to extend his company’s brand into a new state:
“Arizona sports fans are extremely passionate and we’re confident they’ll enjoy the BetMGM experience. Gila River Hotels & Casinos and the Arizona Cardinals represent the state’s premier casino destinations and sports franchise, making them the ideal partners for us.”
Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill also weighed in:
“This is a tremendous opportunity to build upon our long-standing relationship with Gila River and launch a new one with BetMGM. They are best-in-class partners whose excellence and expertise in this emerging space will provide a new and innovative way to engage and interact with our fans.”
Gila River brought in a couple of quotable dignitaries starting with Gila River Hotels & Casino CEO, Kenneth Manuel:
“Gila River Hotels & Casinos and the Arizona Cardinals have an everlasting partnership, offering guests exclusive experiences and remarkable rewards. As we explored our partner in sports betting, the unity with BetMGM, The King of Sportsbooks, ensures we deliver beyond all expectations. There is no doubt in my mind these three industry leading brands unifying will deliver the ultimate experience in Arizona sports betting, solidifying Gila River Hotels & Casinos as Arizona’s Sports HQ.”
Stephen Lewis, Governor of the Gila River Indian Community, had this to say:
“This is an excellent development, and I want to thank Ken and his team for leading the way again for our Community on this innovative partnership with our great friends, the Cardinals, and our new partner BetMGM. Building on the successful launch of our new table games at Wild Horse Pass, this new sportsbetting operation will now continue our successful implementation of our historic new Compact arrangement.”
The three retail sportsbooks at the Gila River gaming properties are expected to launch near the start of football season.