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Arizona sees close to $600 million so far in sports betting this year

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Alex Gonzalez

(Arizona News Connection) Legal sports betting operators in Arizona handled close to $600 million in wagers last January, significantly higher than last year. 

Phillip Milan, professional sports handicapper and CEO of Vegas Kings said Arizona has quickly become one of the nation's most popular wagering states after a 2018 Supreme Court ruling allowed individual states to decide whether to legalize sports betting or not. It has been legal in Arizona since 2021, allowing online and in-person wagering. Milan, who lives in Arizona, said the legalizing of sports betting has truly been a game changer. 

"I used to go back and forth from Arizona to Vegas, but now that it is legal in Arizona I don't really go to Vegas anymore," he said. "Ten years ago I would tell people and no one would know about it, like no one in Arizona would know about it. Now everyone bets."

Milan added he is pleased to see Arizona reaping the financial and economic benefits which have come along with the gambling industry. He suspects states that have not legalized sports betting are concerned about the possible risks associated with people developing gambling addictions, but adds many gambling websites have safeguards in place to help mitigate those issues. 

Milan added many people do not understand the difference between professional handicapping and recreational sports gambling, which creates the potential for unseen problems, he said. Milan added a lot of recreational sports bettors rely on luck and want to hit the jackpot overnight, but argued that "sports betting is a marathon, not a sprint." Milan continued professional handicappers like himself use a deeper analysis to find an edge against sportsbooks.

"You have to understand the probabilities, how to beat the line from a mathematical perspective," he explained. "Professional sports bettors don't really watch every game. They don't care about the name on the back of jerseys. Professional sports bettors are essentially day traders."

Sports wagering is legal in more than 30 states and more are on the way in coming months, Milan said.