Legalized sports betting has washed over the United States in a gigantic way over the last few years; what once was purely the realm of Las Vegas and a few specific destinations has turned into an industry that is expected to bring in around $14 billion in the US alone in 2023. While it has been legal in Arizona for a few years now, a major new milestone has been hit: the sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale is officially open.
Is this a good thing? Is it purely an inevitability? Does it even matter?
It should first be acknowledged that since sports betting was already legal in Arizona, the practical change is essentially null and void. After all, someone could already bet their life savings on who will finish in 4th place in the Phoenix Open or whatever absurd bet they’d like to make (so long as the sports book can find a party for the other side of that trade), so it could certainly be argued that there will be little, if any difference.
Another argument that could be made could be the socialization aspect. After all, after an extended period where we were socially distancing, making bets (sports, investment or otherwise) on our phones and laptops in isolation, the ability to bring this somewhat isolating activity into a social setting seems like a legitimate positive.
Certainly insofar as our reputation as a tourism destination goes, this is certainly a positive. After all, the tournament is estimated to generate $165 million in economic impact from those that are out of town. Having a high-end sportsbook will only add to the allure for out-of-towners, will give us another potential hand into their wallets, and additional potential revenue as a result, even if most of it will go to DraftKings and its stock price.
One could also make an argument about free market policies, about living and letting live, and about the merits of personal responsibility. We are not known as a state focused on regulation for the sake of regulation, or of pretending to know what’s best for you, so such policies are in line with that. Let the free market decide if this is a good decision, right? The people deserve to have the right to be part of the “invisible hand”.
It’s fair to be tired of the constant inundation of betting ads wherever you go. It’s also fair to see it as an industry built on losing bets, one that has generated and will continue to generate significant strife and misery for those unable to resist it and set healthy parameters. But it’s here to stay for now, and the existence of a brick-and-mortar location within the grounds of a golf course won’t add to that misery materially. So it’s hard to see how it moves the needle in a negative direction, and instead adds to the potential tourist allure of our area.