Currently, live wagers are being taken on college and professional sports online, as well as at two retail locations in Phoenix.
"[On] Thursday, individuals will be able to place bets," said Max Hartgraves with the Arizona Department of Gaming. "If they signed up on the app already, they'll be able to place those wagers."
Officials with the Arizona Department of Gaming say they are confident sports betting will go live as planned. In addition to the apps, people have a couple of locations they can go to for placing bets.
Arizona has now joined more than half the states in allowing betting on sports, just three years after it was allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The state hopes to pull in tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue from legalized gambling.
The governor’s office negotiated new agreements with the tribes to allow betting on live and fantasy sports. In exchange, they were allowed to expand their table game and slot machine offerings and run their own sportsbooks at their casinos. Ten tribes also won licenses to take sports bets online. Online fantasy sports wagering became legal late last month, with Arizona being one of the few states where it was still banned.
But it is the professional teams that will be the first to open actual retail location sportsbooks, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming, because a needed addendum to the tribal gaming compacts has not been finalized. Seven of the 18 tribes or sports teams that were awarded licenses last month will be able to take online bets on Thursday.
Sportsbook at Chase Field to open in 2022
At the heart of Phoenix, venues are getting ready for the launch prior to Sept. 9. Crews with the Arizona Diamondbacks have set up their betting windows.
"We're going to have our temporary sportsbook open. We've converted five windows here where you can walk up in-person," said Arizona Diamondbacks Executive Vice President of Business Operations, Cullen Maxey.
The Caesars Sportsbook at Chase Field is scheduled to open at around the time of the Superbowl in 2022.
"It’s gonna be the premier sportsbook in Arizona, if not in all sports," said Arizona Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall. "Having the windows open now is important, because people do like to go live and actually place the bet and get a ticket, but in the meantime, it’s a bridge before we open up the masterpiece."
Opening ceremony held for sportsbook at Footprint Center
About a block away from Chase Field, workers were finishing up at the Fanduel Sportsbook, located at the Footprint Center. Sports fans were allowed into the venue on Thursday morning.
"It's a whole new experience to bring sports betting right to the place inside where sports is happening," said Fanduel Vice President of Commercial Retail, Keith Wall.
The 7,400 sq. ft. sportsbook will have full-service food and beverage options, more than two dozen kiosks and counters for wagering, a VIP room, and an air-conditioned patio. In addition, there are 40 HD television sets inside the venue.
"At an event like this, who can miss it? Who's gonna miss the whole game? Got all these TVs here, got all these wonderful people gathering around. Who’s gonna leave this?" said Anthony Martinez.
On Sept. 9, an opening ceremony for the Fanduel Sportsbook took place. Guests at the ceremony include Gov. Doug Ducey, former Suns player Channing Frye, and former NBA player Richard Jefferson.
"Could you imagine being here for the NCAA Tournament with all the games, and how much fun that would be?" said Jefferson. "I can already see this place is going to be triple the size in five years. I can guarantee that."
Phoenix Raceway takes different approach on sports betting
Unlike sports teams in Downtown Phoenix, Phoenix Raceway officials say they are focusing on the Barstool Sportsbook app. The venue has partnered up with Barstool Sports.
"For us, it's about driving fan interest and fan engagement," said Phoenix Raceway President Julie Giese. "When somebody’s betting on different sports, it gets you interested in it. For us, it opens the door to a new group of fans who might not have thought about NASCAR racing. When they see there’s options for placing bets, it gets them interested, helps them learn more about the sport."
The track is hosting an off-road event this weekend, where fans get a bonus for singing up. The main event, NASCAR Championship Weekend, will roll into town in November.
Other sports teams, venues have been awarded licenses
In addition to the Suns, Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Raceway, the state awarded licenses to the Mercury, Rattlers, Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Coyotes, and TPC Scottsdale. Retail locations must be close by the playing sites, but permits have not been finalized for their locations, Hartgraves said.
Online wagers are being accepted by Unibet, WynnBET, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, Barstool Sports and Caesars.
In many ways, the online licenses are much more valuable than being able to run a traditional "sportsbook" at a tribal casino or at or near a professional sports team’s stadium. That’s because online operations can run around the clock with little overhead and aren’t limited to gamblers physically being in a venue.
CPA says people can't forget about tax filings
With the legalization of sports betting, it is also important to think about tax implications. Certified Public Accountant Robert Hockensmith said the type of game, as well as the amount of winnings, will determine whether the casino or gaming organizations must prepare a tax form.
"The thing most people don't realize is that you’re going to have to keep receipts, and you’re going to have to fill out a W-4 so they can give you a W2-G at the end of the year, and they literally take out taxes right there on the spot when they pay you," said Hockensmith.
For sports betting, a W2-G form is required if a person has over $600 of winnings, or 300 times the wager. Hockensmith says if the winnings don't add up to the required minimum, a person won't get the form, and would just have to report it on the honor system.
If winnings don’t get reported to the IRS, however, there could be consequences.
"The gambling organizations will give the information to the IRS," said Hockensmith. "If you don’t report it, you are subject to fraudulent tax returns and all the bad stuff that goes along with that. We don’t want to do that."
Hockensmith says what he wants people to remember is to keep receipts. For example, receipts from the ATM.
"I've had people that won the lottery or won big tickets, and they win it in December and they’ve thrown away the receipts all year long when they didn’t win. Now, they have no proof that they spent this money, and the money you have spent is a tax deduction against your winnings," said Hockensmith.
While state income tax is not taking out of winnings, federal income tax withheld from gambling winnings is 24%.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
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