Fiesta Bowl, Caesars announce sports betting partnership

PHOENIX — The Fiesta Bowl Organization announced a multi-year partnership with Caesars Entertainment today, pairing one of the biggest postseason college football games with legal sports gambling in Arizona.

It’s the first partnership between a college bowl game and a company that specializes in sports betting. Caesars will host fan lounges at the Fiesta Bowl in suburban Glendale and at the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, which is played at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.

Sports betting is set to become legal in Arizona on Sept. 9.

Fans will be allowed to make bets at a sportsbook and bar on the plaza adjacent to Chase Field — which is also home to MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks, who also have a partnership with Caesars — once the building is ready and goes through the required regulatory approvals. They can use the Caesars Sportsbook app.

The partnership is another sign of just how accepted and widespread legal sports gambling has become in much of the United States. A partnership of this kind was once almost unthinkable in college sports.

“Five years ago this was probably taboo or you didn’t even speak of it,” Fiesta Bowl Chief Marketing Officer Jose Moreno said. “But this is the evolution of sports as a whole and we’re excited for it.”

Caesars will also be the title partner of the Fiesta Bowl’s pregame parties and be the presenting partner of the game’s kickoff luncheon. Dan Shapiro, the chief development officer of Caesars Digital, said the partnership helps position the company to be a market leader in sports betting.

“When this opportunity presented itself to be a part of the Fiesta Bowl and Guaranteed Rate Bowl, we really jumped on it,” Shapiro said. “We thought it was a perfect fit for everything we’re doing in Arizona.”

Shapiro said that once professional sports embraced sports gambling, it was bound to trickle down to the college level.