SaharaBets deserts Arizona after Coyotes relocation

SaharaBets deserts Arizona after Coyotes relocation
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SaharaBets, the sportsbook tethered to the Arizona Coyotes’ betting license, confirmed Tuesday it has left the state as the NHL franchise relocates to Utah.

The brand, which is owned by the Coyotes’ former owner Alex Meruelo, sent an email to its users informing them that it is shutting down.

“Effective immediately, we are discontinuing the sports betting offerings at SaharaBets Sportsbook,” read the email.

“This decision was not made lightly, and we understand the impact it may have on you as a customer. We want to express our gratitude for your support throughout the years. It has been a privilege serving you, and we hope that our services have enhanced your sports betting experience.”

SaharaBets will allow users to access their betting accounts for the next 30 days to settle wagers and withdraw funds and will contact any gambler with a futures bet that will not settle in the 30-day period.

Coyotes exit had left SaharaBets’ future uncertain

The Arizona Coyotes and Meruelo Gaming LLC, an affiliate of the Sahara Las Vegas and Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, NV, had partnered up to launch SaharaBets in January 2022. Arizona gaming law allocates 10 licenses to pro sports franchises and 10 to tribes. All of Arizona’s major pro teams are licensed in the state, as is the PGA Tour and Nascar also have licenses.

After selling the Coyotes’ operations to a Utah-based group, the NHL initially classified the stream as “inactive” rather than defunct. Meruelo has signaled his intention to retain the rights to the name and other team details with the hopes of rebuilding an Arizona franchise in the future. However, last month, it was reported that Meruelo was backing out of his ownership of the team.

Upon that decision, SaharaBets was given 180 days’ notice by the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) to shut down operations.

SaharaBets never took hold

SaharaBets never managed to lock down more than a sliver of the market in its only operational state of Arizona despite its affiliation with the Coyotes.

In April, its handle was $900,737 while its adjusted gross gaming revenue was just $73,556. Overall, since Arizona launched online sports betting in 2021, SaharaBets sat 17th out of 20 operators all-time at the last count with $11.3 million in handle, less than Fanatics Sportsbook took in its very first month in the state.

Other sportsbooks have also ceased operations in the state, including Fubo Sportsbook, TwinSpires and WynnBET.

The ADG opened a new license application window on July 8. It aims to issue at least one tribal and one sports franchise license. SaharaBets’ exit increases the number of available pro team licenses to three.