Breaking News
More () »

How much does Arizona make from sports betting?

The big game is being played for the first time in a state where sports betting is legal.

PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals aren't in the Super Bowl, but Arizona will be a major player in Super Bowl betting next month. And just like Cardinals fans this year, taxpayers won't get much in return.

"The Super Bowl is the 'Big Daddy' of all gambling events," said Professor Victor Matheson, a sports economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.

Arizona is the first Super Bowl host state where betting on sports is legal. Projections call for a $100 million to $150 million bump in new betting in February versus 12 months earlier. But that number can be deceiving.

"The amount of money people are betting has been extremely high," Matheson said. "However, the amount of money actually being collected by the government is fairly low."

Data from the Arizona Department of Gaming shows the huge gap between what's bet and what the state collects in fees. 

In the first 14 months since the start of sports betting in Arizona, total wagers hit a monthly peak of $691 million in March 2022, boosted by the NCAA's March Madness.  

The "privilege fees" collected by Arizona every month are in the $1 million to $4 million range.

Through last October - the most recent data available - $6.6 billion in bets had been placed before accounting for winners' payouts and costs. According to the Gaming Department, the state collected $27 million in fees. 

The bottom line: The state has collected an average of four cents on every $10 dollar bet.  

The formula for the state fee is based on the gambling operations' revenue after bettors' winnings are paid out: a 10 percent cut of the money the gambling operations win from sports bettors via mobile sites and 8 percent from bricks-and-mortar sites. Mobile betting accounts for the lion's share of the revenue.

Under state law, gambling operations can also deduct up to 20 of their income for promotions in their first two years of business.

The $27 million in fees collected would be just a rounding error in the state budget, but it's nothing: It would cover the cost of replacing two Department of Public Safety helicopters.

If you do bet on sports, Matheson has some advice.

"As a form of entertainment, sports gambling is wonderful. It makes games more exciting for folks," he said. "As an investment, sports gambling is terrible. You can't beat the house, no matter how good you are."

Super Bowl 

Get all the latest news and updates about what is going on around the Valley for Super Bowl LVII.

Before You Leave, Check This Out