Sports Betting Big in the Desert

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A foreign currency dealer counts US dollar bills at a shop in Karachi on February 25, 2022. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP)

Arizona is not one of the first states that leaps to mind when discussing mobile sports betting but the March returns that have recently been released shows a record handle in the Grand Canyon State.  

March Madness Bolsters Handle 

The conference tournaments kick off March Madness and the Big Dance follows as millions of people who wouldn’t know Gonzaga from gorgonzola suddenly become experts once their brackets are filled out.

And the office pools are only half of it as novice bettors come out of the woodwork to put a few bucks on a future bet or get down on one or more of the plethora of games spanning the early afternoon to late evening.  

March Madness is a month-long event and is guaranteed to give retail and online sportsbooks a big bump over what is generally a lackluster February, with the notable exception of the Super Bowl. Therefore, it’s not big news when sportsbooks report a healthy month-over-month increase in volume due to the college basketball tournament.  

However, the nascent sports betting industry in Arizona showed extraordinary gains in March with a record-shattering handle of $690.9 million, a whopping 40.5 percent over February, and the $18.5 million gross receipts towered over the $6.8 million reported for the previous month.

The state and local governments received north of $1.7 million of the revenue generated which was nearly three times the amount earmarked for the taxman in February.  

Ted Vogt, director of the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG), said via a press release, “March was an exciting month for Arizona event wagering, with major sporting events like NCAA’s March Madness helping set a single month event wagering handle record. I look forward to seeing how the industry continues to develop as we finish out the first year of legal event wagering in the coming months.” 

Mobile Betting Shine Brightly in the Desert 

Arizona is no different than every other state that has legalized sports betting in that mobile betting dwarfs the brick-and-mortar retail sportsbooks. Consider that in the month of February of 2022, $488.3 million of the $491.6 million was wagered digitally in the Copper State.  

And that trend continued in March as $687.6 million of the $690.9 million was also bet via sports betting apps. Speaking of which, DraftKings has been the No. 1 sportsbook in Arizona from September of 2021 when mobile sports betting launched through January 2022.

However, FanDuel copped the top spot in February but order was restored in March as DK was once again the bettor’s choice with FanDuel slipping back to its customary No. 2 position.  

As for how Arizona’s $690.9 million handle stacked up to other states in March, the results reveal the Grand Canyon State ranked No. 6 in the nation trailing only New York ($1.644B), New Jersey ($1.120B), Illinois ($971.278M), Nevada ($863.283M) and Pennsylvania ($714.976M). 

The future of sports betting in Arizona is quite bright as evidenced by the nearly $3.5 billion in total sports betting volume since the September launch. After the dog days of summer are over, the handles will undoubtedly swell with the advent of a new football season.

And, perhaps, Arizona’s blossoming sports betting industry will continue to climb the ladder as one of the busiest markets in the nation.