SCOTTSDALE – The PGA Tour is taking the plunge into the world of sports gambling as they near completion of a one-of-a-kind DraftKings Sportsbook, located across the street from TPC Scottsdale, home of the WM Phoenix Open.
DraftKings joins FanDuel, Caesars and BetMGM as sportsbook operations with brick-and-mortar venues in the Valley. The others are located at Footprint Center where the Suns play, State Farm Stadium which is home to the Cardinals and Chase Field where the Diamondbacks play.
Construction is currently ongoing and the grand opening is tentatively planned for October of this year. The DraftKings Sportsbook will be the first ever physical sportsbook located on site at a PGA Tour event.
The goal of the partnership between the Tour and DraftKings is to help use the growing popularity of sports betting to bring new fans to golf. In Arizona more than $618 million was wagered on sports bets in December of 2022 alone, a figure that has steadily risen since legislation passed in 2021 to legalize online and retail sports wagering in the state.
“Part of the overall strategy is to reach more new fans and to create more engagement with existing fans through the lens of sports betting,” said Norb Gambuzza, senior vice president of media and gaming for the PGA Tour.
“When we talk about our strategy, that’s really at the top. So there’s a number of different things that we’re doing as a part of that strategy in this market access deal in Arizona, and building the sportsbook is one kind of vertical in that strategy.”
With the rapid rise of sports betting in Arizona, it comes as no surprise that many spectators at the recent WM Phoenix Open were eagerly anticipating the sportsbook’s opening.
“Yeah, a sports book entices people to gamble no matter what,” said Patrick Fortuna, a Phoenix resident who was attending the tournament. “And I think when people like me – I’m not a massive golf fan – I enjoy golf, but I think a sports book would really push people in the direction of gambling on the sport and really being more enticed to come here and enjoy the sport.”
The sportsbook will include 40 betting kiosks and seven ticketing windows along with almost 400 seats across the interior and an exterior patio for people to sit and enjoy the high-end dining and cocktail options.
DraftKings was previously the daily fantasy partner of the PGA Tour, but the company didn’t have exclusive rights to the latest sportsbook to hit Arizona. Once sports betting was legalized in Arizona, the Tour brought the proposal to multiple betting operators. In the end, it was DraftKings that was able to strike a deal.
The sportsbook is being built on the corner of Bell Road and Greenway-Hayden Loop, directly across the street from TPC Scottsdale’s clubhouse and the Stadium Course’s 18th hole.
The facility will be front and center near the entrance to the most attended tournament in golf, and in north Scottsdale it is in an area with relatively little competition. The only other sportsbook in the area is The Sportsbook at CAZ Sports Bar at Casino Arizona.
“If you kind of map and plotted where all these (sportsbooks) are, you’d see that we have a bit of a geographic advantage, we’re separate and we’re also in an area that’s got kind of, from an economic standpoint, a bit more of an affluent clientele nearby,” Gambuzza said. “So, I think that’s one of the reasons that DraftKings also was intrigued with this, due to its ability to be a little bit different from the others.”
Bet MGM’s sportsbook is located at State Farm Stadium in Glendale while the FanDuel and Caesars sportsbooks are both located in Downtown Phoenix, meaning the DraftKings Sportsbook will be the closest physical sportsbook to many residents of the North Valley.
On top of the location, the opportunity to bring a sportsbook to TPC Scottsdale, home of one of the most popular events on Tour, made perfect sense once sports betting was legalized. The PGA Tour had been talking about partnering on a retail sportsbook for a year or two before Arizona legalized sports betting, opening a door for the deal to be made.
“It’s this golf tournament that has this very distinct personality and massive attendance,” Gambuzza said. “…you have this awesome tournament, the Thunderbirds who run the tournament, the sponsor in (Waste Management) and then you have TPC Scottsdale.
“It kind of became like, ‘If we’re going to do this, we’ve got the ingredients for a really special and successful venture, so let’s do it.’”
While the sportsbook is expected to open in the fall, it will not be open to the public at the next WM Phoenix Open. Instead, the space will be used by DraftKings and the sponsoring Thunderbirds as a VIP hospitality area. However, VIP guests during the tournament will be able to kick back and place wagers there, if they so choose.
Although only VIP fans will be able to place bets there, the sportsbook’s location during the WM Phoenix Open will make hundreds of thousands of people aware that it’s there.
“Yeah, that’ll be so great, not having it this year is just a huge shame,” said Elliot Wood, another WM Phoenix Open spectator. Wood and his friends traveled to the tournament from Canada and said they look forward to seeing the completed building at a future WM Phoenix Open.
The sportsbook will be open to the public for the remainder of the year, but restricting access to patrons at next year’s tournament isn’t exactly in keeping with the event’s “The People’s Open” brand.
And it’s something that Fortuna, as a fan, doesn’t believe is a good idea.
“I think a lot of the time with gamblers, it’s like an everyman’s thing,” he said. “You know, it’s like a lot of people are gambling, whether they’re VIP or not. I think that should be open to everyone. I don’t think it should be exclusive to one or the other.
“Gambling on the app is a whole lot less fun than gambling with a whole group of people at a sportsbook.”