Arizona Super Bowl: The first Big Game in a regulated state

Alternating Super Bowl LVII and NFL flags
Image: Shutterstock

The NFL’s final game of the 2022 season, Super Bowl LVII, will be hosted in Glendale, Arizona at State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals, in February 2023.

When the game takes place, history will not only be made on the field but off it as well, since the Grand Canyon State will become the first regulated sports betting state to host the Big Game since the repeal of PASPA in 2018.

The game itself is already generating some lofty expectations before the two teams that will be playing on the stadium’s turf have even been decided.

GeoComply has already predicted this season’s Super Bowl to be a “betting bonanza”, as data from the Arizona Cardinals’ opening home game of the 2022 NFL season against the Kansas City Chiefs revealed over 66,000 geolocation checks from over 7,300 accounts at State Farm Stadium.

David Highhill, the NFL’s Vice President and General Manager of Sports Betting, has expressed the league’s excitement about hosting the Super Bowl for the first time in a regulated sports wagering state.

Highhill commented: “We are incredibly excited to welcome our fans to Super Bowl LVII in Arizona this February. Arizona will be the first state we have played a Super Bowl with legal sports betting (though we have played many games in states with legal sports betting since 2018).

“Arizona’s sports betting laws will allow fans all over the state to engage online and at retail locations. Arizona’s broad consumer access, coupled with their robust integrity and consumer protections, are examples of a model state betting framework.

“We know that the Super Bowl is peak excitement for sports betting in the US, and would expect February 12th in Arizona to be no different! We will look to see how our fans engage with our betting partners Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel on-site and online to continue to enhance the gameday experience throughout the season for our fans.”

With the Grand Canyon State already one of the top 10 sports betting markets in the US in its first year of operation, with 18 mobile operators and 25 different retail venues, what heights could sports betting achieve during the week of the country’s biggest sporting event?

The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG), the state’s regulatory authority, is excited about the potential the Super Bowl could bring, as previous editions of the Big Game hosted in the state before PASPA’s repeal have had a lasting impact.

Max Hartgraves, Public Information Officer for ADG, said: “The Super Bowl has already had a lasting impact on Arizona. Arizona has hosted four Super Bowls, the latest being Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. It is estimated that Super Bowl XLIX produced a gross economic impact over $719m for the region.

“Sports betting and the other new casino games such as craps, roulette and baccarat, are now legal in the state due to Arizona’s modernization of gaming in 2021. These new games provide another reason for tourists to visit, particularly for major events such as the Super Bowl and the Phoenix Open (which are held on the same weekend in the Phoenix Metro area), which sees thousands of out-of-state visitors come to Arizona.”

Despite this, the ADG has stated it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what to expect and they haven’t forecasted any specific handle amount.

BetMGM, who partnered with State Farm Stadium and the Arizona Cardinals to launch a sportsbook on the Great Lawn tailgating spot within walking distance from the Super Bowl venue, is preparing for the Big Game the same way it has in previous years, but it is still expecting the event to provide new highs.

The sportsbook operator noted that in-game betting will be available to those that wish to wager on their mobile inside the stadium. This, in turn, could lead to a record handle amount for the state of Arizona.

“We’re expecting record handle and bet amounts, this is likely to be the most bet on the Super Bowl to date,” commented Jason Scott, VP of Trading at BetMGM.

“We’re excited to get more fans into the BetMGM Sportsbook at State Farm Stadium. I think that will be a great experience that will bring more exposure to the fun of being in a retail book environment.”

When asked if the Super Bowl could result in the Grand Canyon State breaking its sports betting records, Scott said: “Yes, definitely, between betting now being legal and Arizona hosting the Super Bowl I think we’ll see big numbers coming out of Arizona.”

However, Hartgraves is unsure. “It is hard to tell. In 2022, Arizona saw just under $500m wagered in the state during the month of February, which includes the period of the 2022 Super Bowl. We look forward to seeing how it compares to 2023,” he stated.

For the Super Bowl LVI in 2022, the American Gaming Association forecasted 31.4 million Americans to wager $7.61bn. Following the Big Game itself, New Jersey and Nevada both declared new Super Bowl sportsbook handle records of $143.7m and $179.8m respectively.

At the time of writing, sports betting is live in 35 US states plus the District of Columbia.

In 2024, the Super Bowl will be hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will be played in Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. 

It will be interesting to see if the Silver State learns, or takes anything away, from the Grand Canyon State’s hosting of the Big Game in a regulated sports betting state for the first time in preparation for when the Super Bowl visits the gambling capital of the world next year.