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Arizona ranks among top 6 states for sports gambling after a year of legalized betting

State's take from $5 billion in wagers could pay for half a high school.

ARIZONA, USA — Editor's Note: The above video is from 2021.

Just one year into legalized betting on sports, Arizona ranks among the top six states in the country for wagering, right behind Nevada.

"It shows that this state is is here for the long haul," said Chris Boan, a betting analyst at BetArizona.com.

Boan said Arizona ranks sixth nationally, right behind Nevada.

"We saw that with the numbers in January and February and in March, especially in March, what this market is potentially is capable of."

Arizona sports gambling operations saw at least $5 billion in wagers over the last 12 months, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming (the agency still hasn't reported data for August).

Sports betting spiked last winter, peaking at almost $700 million in March alone. 

That wasn't a surprise: The NCAA's March Madness - not the Super Bowl - is the biggest draw for sports gamblers.

"It's a monthlong event that generates eyeballs for multiple weekends," Boan said of the NCAA basketball tournament.

"People are very passionate about the teams in the tournament, they're very passionate about the sport."

Next February, Arizona will host the first Super Bowl in a state where gambling on sports is legal.

The biggest winners in Arizona's sports gambling world are the sports betting businesses and the pro teams that pay for gambling licenses. Those deals are kept private.

The sports betting operators "are making a lot of money off of wagering, and so these teams are obviously getting a solid chunk of that," Boan said.

"They wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't worthwhile financially."

As for the public, there's not much of a payoff: at least $18 million in state revenue over the last 12 months  - about 30 cents on every $100 bet.

The state's take adds up to 0.1 percent of the new $18 billion budget. Here's what $18 million could buy this year:

  • A new Department of Public Safety helicopter and 190 vehicles.
  • The state's portion for improving the Jackrabbit Trail.
  • Half of a newly built high school in Queen Creek or Yuma.

"This isn't something that's going to close budget loopholes," Boan said. "It's for the people... It's an entertainment option."

The Department of Gaming has a page on its website that provides resources for dealing with problem gambling.

Reports on the number of people asking to be "self-excluded" from casinos are almost three years out of date. Another report on the prevalence of problem gambling in the state is 19 years old. 

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