Recent Arizona surge continues America’s sports betting boom

Gabe Swartz
4 min readDec 3, 2021


Odds are, if a television is on and sports are being shown, a commercial advertising for one of the various gambling companies will be shown. Everyone is in on sports betting. It’s the hip new thing. Since the state of Arizona opened the (legal) floodgates on Sept. 9, a stream of consumers have taken to using the new avenues to place wagers on sporting events.

In the now thriving basketball city that is Phoenix, fans can make a quick stop before taking in a Suns game. On the North end of the Footprint Center sits a FanDuel Sportsbook location, where fans of legal age (21-plus) can walk in and place a bet in person or online just a few steps away from an NBA game. Just down the street, BetMGM has a Caesars Sportsbook just outside Chase Field — home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. The array of in-person settings and mobile wagering platforms has opened the door to a new viewing experience for fans.

Arizona’s new law implemented during the second week of September — just in time for the first week of the National Football League to get underway — pushed the 48th state past many of its peers. In America’s push to make sports betting legal nationwide, Arizona became one of 28 states with some form of legal sports betting. Wanting to know more about sports betting in Arizona and across America? Here’s five interesting notes about sports gambling nationwide:

  1. Celebrities are being called upon for ad campaigns

As I mentioned about commercials being important to the viewing experience of consumers — and for seeds being planted to gamble on sports — those commercials have come from a variety of companies and an array of celebrities.

The Manning family is featured prominently in this Thanksgiving ad from Caesars Sportsbook

Along with the Mannings, we’ve seen advertisements from other famous retired athletes. Just look at TNT’s “Inside the NBA” crew. Their cast has both Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley being paid spokesman for competing outlets.

Rather than utilize household names like Shaq, Barkley or the Mannings, the Barstool Sportsbook has instead relied upon its own company personalities to lead in-game watch party streams to gain a greater share of the market. Barstool personalities are often promoting their own special wagers with odds boosts in order to promote the company.

Bettors can “Back Dan ‘Big Cat’ Katz” and other Barstool personalities with their bets.

2. Some states have rules in place against wagering on local colleges

States such as Illinois, Connecticut, Virginia and Washington — just to name a few — have prohibited wagering on in-state universities. So if you’re a die-hard Illinois Fighting Illini fan and want to wager on star center Kofi Cockburn, you’ll have to go to Indiana to place the wager.

In other states, like Indiana, some sports leagues are allowed via regulations to request a geofence be placed at sporting event locations like Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts; or Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers.

Arizona has no rules against wagering on in-state college teams. In fact, BetMGM ran a promotion for new users when Arizona State took on UCLA in Los Angeles on Oct. 2. Any $10 bet on the ASU moneyline (a bet for the Sun Devils to win) would net new users $200 in free bets if ASU scored a touchdown in the contest.

3. Vegas’ reaches billion dollar milestone

As sports gambling becomes less and less stigmatized thanks to new legislation across the nation, sports leagues like the National Hockey League and NFL have both made their way to Las Vegas. In 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights became the 31st team in the NHL and the first major league professional sports organization to embrace the sin city.

In 2020, the NFL moved the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, and opened Allegiant Stadium. In its second season of existence — and first with fans — the in-stadium sportsbook has helped boost the Vegas sportsbook economy. According to revenue numbers released by the Nevada Gaming Control, October 2021 saw a record $1.1 billion — yes, billion — wagered on sports.

The monthly total represented the first time in history Las Vegas had seen more than $1 billion wagered in a calendar month. Online bets represented 64 percent of the total wagered amount.

The presence of Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, has helped increase books handle when the Raiders play home games. (Photo via WikiCommons)

4. Arizona’s northern neighbors are unlikely to change gambling stance

The state of Utah is notoriously opposed to any form of gambling. In fact, along with Hawai’i, Utah is one of only two states with no forms of gambling at all. No lottery. No table games. No sports betting. Utah has nothing.

In plenty of states, gambling is legal just on Indian reservations under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. In Utah, that is not the case. Utah Code 76–10–1101, prohibits all forms of gambling in the state.

Check out stadiums with sportsbooks in the United State (infographic via Gabe Swartz)

5. Gambling-driven media outlets are popping up

Websites like Action Network provide gamblers with in-depth insight on a daily basis on a variety of sports. Writers provide best bets of the day and written content to accompany podcasts, streams and other forms of content.

Resources like public report — which tells users which teams are being most wagered on by the public — can be useful to those who bet. For some, Action Network provides a place to keep track of their picks, records and best bets.

Gambling-centric analysis has even found its way into mainstream sports coverage. ESPN, Fox Sports and others have begun displaying the odds and over/under lines for each game on the bottom line prior to each game. On Monday nights, SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt has a “Bad Beats” segment to recap the worst losses of the weekend. On Thursdays, Van Pelt gives out “Winners” in another segment.

One of the most popular reoccurring segments on SC with SVP is Bad Beats, which is run each Monday night.



Gabe Swartz

Sports Journalism at Arizona State University | Cronkite 2022 | Staff Writer | President WCSN | Former Editor-in-Chief of BVNWnews