Gov. Ducey expected to sign bill to legalize sports betting Thursday

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Posted at 4:57 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 11:06:43-04

PHOENIX — The state of Arizona and the Tribal Nations will sign a new gambling compact Thursday. Governor Doug Ducey and the tribes are calling it a historic agreement.

That may be true, but one gets the sense most gamblers will care more about a bill the governor will sign into law at the same event. With Ducey’s signature, sports wagering becomes legal in Arizona.

“We’re looking at a whole new level of interaction and engagement that wasn’t there before,” said Arizona Diamondbacks President and C.E.O. Derrick Hall.

The Diamondbacks may end up being the state’s first professional sports franchise to offer game day gambling. Once sports wagering becomes law, the federal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs need to sign off on it. The process could take as little as 90 days.

“We’ll be ready to go even if we need to set up temporary locations,” Hall said.

For the Diamondbacks that could mean fans placing bets at Chase Field in July.

“We’re going to have the retail experience of a brick-and-mortar sportsbook somewhere outside of the stadium. And the ability of the gaming on the mobile system as well inside,” Hall said.

Depending on how far the Suns go in the NBA playoffs the team could also cash in on sports wagering this season. The NBA Finals don’t begin until July 8.

Arizona joins 25 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in legalizing sports wagering.

Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals, and Coyotes will all have licenses to operate on-site sports betting. So will the Phoenix Open and NASCAR. Sports betting will also be available at tribal casinos.

“I don’t think we’re talking about in the $10’s of millions. We’re talking about in the $100’s of millions,” says State Representative Jeff Weninger (R) Chandler District 17.

That’s just the estimate on the revenue the state will receive. Weninger’s bill will be the one the Governor signs Thursday.

Derrick Hall says the Diamondbacks will stick to baseball and hire a company to operate the sports betting operation.

Hall says the team feels pretty good about its new revenue stream, one he hopes brings fans to the park and keeps them there until the game is over.

“You take a game, maybe 10-1, hopefully the D-Backs winning, in the 5th inning and fans are going to want to stay there because they have the ability for some fun bets.”