It’s a sure bet: Gila River Hotels & Casinos is joining forces with the Arizona Cardinals and BetMGM to operate four sportsbooks — at its three casinos and at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, where the Cardinals play.
BetMGM is the sports-betting division of MGM Resorts International.
Sportsbooks are expected to be in operation in Arizona by Sept. 9, the opener of the National Football League season, at Gila River’s Wild Horse Pass Casino, across Interstate 10 from Chandler; Lone Butte Casino, just south of the city along Loop 202, and Vee Quiva, near Laveen. The sportsbook at the stadium likely will open for the 2022 football season.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to build upon our long-standing relationship with Gila River and launch a new one with BetMGM,” said Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill. “They are best-in-class partners, whose excellence and expertise in this emerging space will provide a new and innovative way to engage and interact with our fans.”
Sports betting became legal in Arizona this year when gaming compacts between the state and Native American gaming operations were revised. The tribes agreed to allow sportsbooks to operate beyond their casinos, such as at the Cardinals’ stadium, in exchange for tribes being permitted to add high-stakes table games, including baccarat; to expand other gaming, like slots, that are already on their properties; and to build more casinos. Each tribe also may operate a sportsbook at their casinos.
“Gila River Hotels & Casinos and the Arizona Cardinals have an everlasting partnership, offering guests exclusive experiences and remarkable rewards,” said Kenneth Manuel, Gila River Hotels & Casino chief executive officer. “As we explored our partner in sports betting, the unity with BetMGM, ‘The King of Sportsbooks,’ ensures we deliver beyond all expectations. There is no doubt in my mind these three industry-leading brands unifying will deliver the ultimate experience in Arizona sports betting, solidifying Gila River Hotels & Casinos as Arizona’s sports headquarters.”
Stephen Lewis, governor of the Gila River Indian Community, called the turn of events “an excellent development.”
“I want to thank Ken and his team for leading the way again for our community on this innovative partnership with our great friends, the Cardinals, and our new partner BetMGM,” Lewis said. “Building on the successful launch of our new table games at Wild Horse Pass, this new sports-betting operation will now continue our successful implementation of our historic new compact arrangement.”
Gila River’s three-way sportsbook partnership allows Bet MGM to bring not only retail sports betting to the casinos, which will feature custom-built BetMGM Sportsbooks, and the stadium but also its industry-leading platform online.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation this year that allows 10 sports-betting licenses to sports teams, 10 to tribes and 10 limited licenses to horse tracks and off-track betting sites as long as they partner with one of the 20 other licensees.
“Gila River Hotels & Casinos and the Arizona Cardinals represent the state’s premier casino destinations and sports franchise, making them the ideal partners for us,” said Adam Greenblatt, BetMGM chief executive officer.