Business is booming in Arizona’s newly legal sports betting market, and another competitor has entered the arena this week. Alex Meruelo, the owner of the Arizona Coyotes, has announced the introduction of SaharaBets, a new digital sports betting platform, in partnership with his NHL franchise. SaharaBets is expected to be available for download on mobile devices on January 12, at which point fans will be able to create accounts, deposit funds, and place bets.
Unique Partnership with the Coyotes
Arizona Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a team statement that the team is “dedicated to providing innovative and entertaining experiences for our fans.” The expectation is that SaharaBets will offer unique betting content with the Coyotes that helps it stand out in a crowded sports betting market. Additionally, SaharaBets will offer Coyotes fans a unique way to engage with their team that differs from what is available in the rest of the market.
There is no set plan for a SaharaBets retail sportsbook with the Coyotes set to leave Gila River Arena at the end of the season. However, with most other professional franchises in the state developing their own retail sportsbooks, it stands to reason that the Coyotes could follow suit with another way to boost fan engagement and generate sports betting revenue.
Other Arizona Sports Betting Partnerships
The Coyotes are changing the formula with their own platform as most other professional teams in Arizona have agreed to long-term contracts with national sportsbooks. In April, DraftKings announced its partnership with the PGA Tour to open a sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale, home to the Waste Management Phoenix Open. FanDuel also announced a retail sportsbook opening at the Phoenix Suns’ Footprint Center. The Arizona Diamondbacks have partnered with Caesars to open a sportsbook just outside of Chase Field this year.
The Arizona Cardinals have agreed to a contract with BetMGM to open a retail sportsbook at State Farm Stadium in time for the 2022 season. The WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury also announced a 15-year partnership with Bally’s Corporation, the first gaming access contract between a professional women’s team and a sports betting corporation.
Early Success for the Arizona Market
I recently wrote about the incredible success Arizona is already seeing with its sports betting market, as the state has already reported $777 million in total sports bets over the first two months of September and October. Arizona is expected to be the first state to reach $1 billion in total sports betting handle. Revenue fell behind in the state as sportsbooks doled out hefty promotional boosts to fuel customer acquisition, but that is a short-term investment for those companies, and revenue will grow over time.
With a modest 10% mobile tax rate, minimal license fees compared to other states, and up to 20 licenses for sportsbooks, Arizona has created a highly competitive market in the 14th-most populated state in the country. It’s no surprise to see the Coyotes look to join the other professional franchises in the state with gaming access deals. It will be interesting to see if the franchise’s own SaharaBets becomes a model for other teams looking to create their own sports betting platforms.