Arkansas is in line to become one of the next states to offer legal online sports betting. Retail Arkansas sportsbooks in casinos had been the only legal recourse for placing sports bets in the state.
The decision to expand the industry was placed in the hands of the Arkansas Racing Commission as the official governing body. In a unanimous vote, the decision to make the change was approved. The final step in the process requires approval from the state’s Legislative Council at a planned Jan. 28 meeting.Jump to
Detailing the Commission’s Meeting
As part of the recent Arkansas Racing Commission meeting where the decision was made, there was a public hearing lasting more than two hours. The input on this matter also included close to 800 letters from interested parties.
Representatives of the both the casinos and sportsbook operators were present at this meeting. This gave regulators a chance to weigh all of the issues when making the final decision. The ultimate approval was celebrated by all the parties involved.
John Burris is part of the Capital Advisors Group. He represented FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Fanatics and Bally’s Corp at this meeting. He mentioned that all of these operators were “excited” over the opportunity to enter the Arkansas legal online sports betting market.
Burris was quoted as saying:
“We think it’s a great opportunity. I think if I had one point, it would be that it’s not us versus them. Us being sports betting and them being the three in-state casinos. We view it as an opportunity to bring to a marketplace through the casinos revenue and a player who is generally being unregulated and utilized now.”
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Arkansas Casinos Get a Hefty 51% Revenue Share
Under the new rules, legal mobile sports betting must be conducted through in-state land-based casinos. Through partnerships with mobile sportsbook operators, casinos will earn 51% of the revenue.
The 51% revenue share is much higher than states with similar arrangements. Those partnerships are usually in the range of 5% up to 15%. The main goal of the Arkansas Racing Commission was to protect the interests of local casinos.
It was not mentioned how thrilled interested operators were about the 49-51 revenue split. However, they also know there is still money to be made through this arrangement.
Arkansas’s Retail Sports Betting Industry
The current legal sports betting market in Arkansas consists of three retail sportsbooks in land-based casino properties. The three casinos are Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis and Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs.
A fourth casino project would be Legends Resort and Casino in Pope County. This casino is a partnership between the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and Legends, which is a hospitality and stadium-management company.
Under the new rules, sports betting would be legal anywhere within Arkansas state borders. Online sportsbooks partnered with one of the in-state casinos could offer sports betting through their mobile app.
All wagers on sports and sporting events made online must be booked through a gambling system that has been approved by the state’s Racing Commission.