Arizona will grow into a particularly lucrative market for its fledgling sports betting industry, capable of generating more than $3 billion in annual wagers and $200 million in annual gross gaming revenue, according to estimates by PlayAZ.com, which analyzes and researches the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market.
“Arizona is particularly exciting development for legal sports betting in the U.S., with a collection of attributes that will likely help the market mature quickly,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for the PlayUSA.com network, which includes PlayAZ.com. “In fact, few other of the recently launched U.S. markets have quite as many positive characteristics. Because of this, the future is quite bright in Arizona.”
When Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation to legalize sports betting in Arizona last week, the Grand Canyon State joined 26 other U.S. states and Washington D.C., that have regulated online sports betting in some form. Twenty-two of those jurisdictions have launched.
According to PlayAZ projections, Arizona sportsbooks could take in as much $3.3 billion in wagers annually at maturity, which could come as soon as the market’s third year. That would produce as much as $225 million in gross gaming revenue annually, assuming a 7% “hold,” which is the percentage sportsbooks keep after paying out winning bets.
With a hypothetical 8% tax rate, the state projects $12.3 million in annual tax revenue. But the final tax rate is yet to be determined, and with promotional credits that will reduce the tax liability for operators, an accurate projection is impossible.
Indiana may be Arizona’s closest comparison among current markets. With some 500,000 fewer residents than Arizona, the Hoosier State produced $1.8 billion in bets and $138.4 million in gross operator revenue in 2020, despite major U.S. sports being shut down for more than three months in 2020. Through the first three months of 2021, Indiana sportsbooks have taken in $938.9 million in bets, including $316.7 million in March alone. The first quarter has produced $72.8 million in gross gaming revenues for Indiana sportsbooks, generating $6.9 million in state taxes.
“There is no question that Arizona will be a fruitful market, but there are still a lot of moving parts that will need to be sorted before launch,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst at PlayUSA.com. “Based on what is known now, though, the basic framework will be appealing for sportsbook operators.”
Arizona has a unique collection of positive attributes that should help make it flourish. For one, Arizona has a vibrant sporting landscape that includes a professional team in all four major North American sports leagues, four NCAA Division I college athletic programs, NASCAR races, and multiple PGA Tour events.
Also, Arizona is an appealing sports tourism market with fans regularly traveling from all over for special events such as college bowl games, the Super Bowl, and the NCAA Tournament, in addition to regular season games and baseball’s spring training. Plus, Arizona has the potential to appeal to some residents of Southern California.
“One of the smartest things that Arizona did was to create a relatively open market, like Indiana, which will spur competition and raise the market’s ceiling,” Ramsey said. “We don’t know the entire framework yet in Arizona. But ultimately a truly competitive market benefits consumers while making the industry a reliable revenue producer for the state for years to come.”