Churchill Downs-owned TwinSpires is the latest sportsbook to score a sports betting partnership agreement with a Native American tribe in Arizona.
In a press release published on Friday, the operator announced that it would be entering the regulated AZ sports betting market via a contract with the Tonto Apache Tribe-owned Mazatzal Hotel & Casino.
The agreement allows the two partners to pursue a license to operate a retail sportsbook at the facility, which is located in Payson. TwinSpires will also launch its sports betting app in the state, subject to regulatory approval.
Commenting on the agreement, Bill Mudd, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Churchill Downs Incorporated, said: ‘’We welcome this exciting partnership with Tonto Apache Tribe. We are pleased that the guests of Mazatzal Hotel & casino as well as sports fans throughout Arizona will soon be able to access the best in sports betting with TwinSpires.’’
The company now joins eight other online operators hoping to secure permits to launch in the legal Arizona market, which is scheduled to take off on September 9.
If the partnership is approved by the ADG, Arizona will mark the seventh legal state for the CDI-operated sportsbook.
The brand is already live in the states of Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, Indiana, and Colorado. Churchill Downs has also announced that its BetAmerica Sportsbook and iGaming platform in New Jersey will rebrand to TwinSpires in the third quarter of 2021.
Tonto Apache Tribe looking forward to partnership
In his statement, the chairman of the Tonto Apache Tribe, Calvin Johnson, said that his community is looking forward to its joint venture with TwinSpires.
He added that the tribe is now hoping the addition of sports betting would bring more guests not only to the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino, but also Gila County.
The venue, which is about 90 mins from Phoenix, features a variety of amenities including restaurants, luxury rooms, and a casino. The games offered in the casino include video and reel slots, video poker, blackjack, three-card poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
The tribe hopes to build a physical sportsbook within the facility upon receiving a sports wagering permit from the state regulator. The partnership with TwinSpires will also see the launch of a statewide online sports betting platform and mobile wagering app which will be tied to the facility.
Arizona sports betting advancing smoothly
The news about the TwinSpires-Tonto Apache partnership comes just a week after the Arizona Department of Gaming published the final sports betting rules for the state.
The Department posted the final draft of regulations on July 23 and announced that the rules would become official on July 26, paving the way for operators to start the application process for permits.
The state’s sports wagering law allows the ADG to issue 20 retail and online permits to gaming tribes and professional sports franchises based in Arizona. The act also provides for 10 more retail licenses, which will be awarded to OTB facilities and horse racing tracks.
So far, nine eligible applicants have struck partnerships with online operators with the intention of seeking permits to enter the market. They are Phoenix Mercury, which has a deal with Bally’s, Phoenix Suns with FanDuel, Phoenix Raceway with Barstool Sportsbook, PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open with DraftKings, Arizona Diamondbacks with Caesars, the Yavapai-Apache Nation with PointsBet, the San Carlos Apache Tribe with WynnBet, and the Quechan Tribe with Kindred Group.
Each of these operators will be required to part with $100,000 in application fees when submitting their license bids, and an additional $750,000 upon approval. The permits will be renewed annually at a cost of $150,000.
According to the regulator, those seeking permits will be notified about the status of their applications by August 25, and successful applicants will be allowed to start marketing their online sportsbooks from August 30.
The Arizona sports betting industry is set to take off on September 9.