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Rendering courtesy of the city of Scottsdale

By J. Graber | January 19, 2022

Sports betting is coming to Scottsdale.

TPC Scottsdale has applied for a conditional use permit to build a sportsbook on a 3.2-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Hayden and Bell Roads, making Scottsdale one of the few Valley cities that host a facility for sports betting.

Most Valley sportsbooks, with the exception primarily of Glendale and Phoenix, are located in casinos on tribal lands.

TPC Scottsdale hosts the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the PGA Tour’s most-attended annual tournament.

“Granting this extension of the existing CUP will allow for the development of a high-end dining experience with a sports-viewing focus and Scottsdale’s only allowable sportsbook,” the application states.

TPC says the one-story, 12,000-square-foot facility will offer a “luxury dining experience with a sports wagering floor worthy of North Scottsdale’s impeccable ‘world class destination’ reputation,” according to the application.

The exterior will include Dark Skies lighting — which does not project light upward — and a patio on the west side overlooking the golf course. The site of the proposed facility is currently vacant.

“This establishment will not be operated as a bar,” the application states.

Jordan Rose of the Rose Law Group, which is representing TPC, says, “The character will be elegant with an emphasis on a high-quality unique dining experience.”

DraftKings will be the sportsbook operator. Stephen Miraglia, a spokesman for DraftKings, declined to comment.

TPC officials are planning on having the new facility open for the 2023 Super Bowl, which will be in Glendale, where the Arizona Cardinals and FanDuel operate a sportsbook at State Farm Stadium.

TPC Scottsdale was built in the 1980s on a mix of lands owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Scottsdale.

The city, which uses the federal portion of the property through a Recreational Land Use Agreement, utilized its 50-year lease with the PGA Tour in 1984 to build the golf complex.

Under the lease, the city is entitled to 12.5% of all golf-related revenue on site and 2% of all food, beverage and pro shop sales.

Rose says the lease would be amended to give the city a 2% cut of all sportsbook revenues.

There are no projections yet on what that number might be.

Mayor David Ortega is cautious about what that could be.

“I wouldn’t call it a windfall; it’s a revenue stream,” Ortega says.

Additionally, the city could receive a small bump in tax revenue, according to an economic study commissioned by the PGA Tour.

The report by economist Elliot Pollack determined the sportsbook would contribute $2.8 million in annual tax revenue to the city, county and state, including $724,200 to Scottsdale.

That total would account for a minute fraction of the city’s annual local sales tax haul, which can exceed $120 million.

The facility is expected to generate about 380 jobs and $14.2 million in wages annually.

“This project will make Scottsdale an even more compelling destination for sports enthusiasts around the world and will create a projected $47.1 million in economic impact,” Rose says. “That number includes wages, tourism, etc.”

Phoenix Open Spokesman Ryan Woodcock declined comment on TPC Scottsdale’s sportsbook.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law last April giving 10 professional sports operators and 10 tribes the opportunity to acquire a sports betting license. The PGA and DraftKings announced plans for a sportsbook at the TPC Scottsdale golf club the day before the governor signed the new law.

The new law permitting gambling in Arizona only allows for up to 20 sports betting licenses in the state, and TPC is the only site in Scottsdale that qualifies.

Councilmember Linda Milhaven isn’t worried about gambling coming into the community. She points out that tribes have had gambling on Scottsdale’s borders for years and it hasn’t caused any real problems for the city.

“It’s a great opportunity for the PGA and Scottsdale to collaborate and provide an additional amenity that our tourists and residents to enjoy,” she says, not to mention the boost to the city’s pocketbook, she adds.

“That’s not why we should be doing things, though,” she says. “Scottsdale has an amazing luxury brand and the PGA has a luxury brand, and I think this is going to be a first-class experience.”

Councilmember Betty Janik is eyeing the money, though.

“I believe it’s a good thing for Scottsdale,” she says. “It’s a competitive market for funds from all markets including sports booking, and I believe we should get a part of those funds.

It’s going to help plug some of the holes,” she continues. “We’ve lost funding at the state level, and hopefully this is going to regain some of the funding so we don’t have to cut programs.”

State-shared revenue is expected to drop $3.7 million from what was budgeted, because Scottsdale’s population did not grow as expected.

The operation gets a slightly less warm reception from Councilmember Tom Durham.

“It’s not our choice, of course,” Durham says. “This was done at the state level. We didn’t have a lot of choice. As long as this is being put in, I do want to see Scottsdale get its share of revenue.”

He is worried about the negative effects of introducing gambling into the community.

“Gambling can be a form of addiction for some people, like alcohol and drugs,” he says. “I would hate to see it take over somebodies’ lives.”

It got an even cooler welcome from Councilmember Kathy Littlefield.

“I don’t know it’s a good thing; I don’t know it’s a bad thing,” she says. “What I do have to say about it is this: They don’t build these really fancy pavilions on winners. They build it on the (money from the) losers, and from what I can tell there are a lot more losers than winners.”

She adds, “The house wins. That’s how they make their money.”