Arkansas Online Sports Betting

Legal online sports betting in Arkansas has not been available. However, that should soon change due to a recent decision by the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC).

While retail sports betting has been legal since 2018, online sports betting options were not included in that original piece of legislation. The ARC had been working on a plan to change this stance. More recently, the ARC approved a plan that would bring legal mobile sports betting to the state in conjunction with land-based casinos. They could form partnerships with mobile sportsbook operators.

Under the present system, there are four land-based casino locations approved to accept wagers on sporting events. Right now, three have been up and running with on-site retail sportsbooks. 

Bettors in the state are allowed to bet on collegiate sporting events, and that has helped create some momentum in the market. 

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Arkansas Sportsbooks

All Arkansas sports betting must be done in person, and all the wagers must be placed at licensed retail sportsbooks in the state. Currently, there are just three retail books open. There is fourth casino and sportsbook project in the works near Russellville.

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort accepted the first wager in July 2019, and Southland Casino Racing launched in January 2020. The Saracen Casino Resort was the third retail location to start accepting wagers on sporting events.

With online sports betting unavailable, it has shut out some of the top online sportsbooks in the industry. This has also caused a huge burden for bettors as many don’t want the hassle of trying to travel to a casino to place a bet.

This is why the state’s racing commission decided to change the current rules. More and more state lawmakers also agree that it was the right time for a change. Now that the Arkansas Racing Commission ruled in favor of online sports betting, the next step of the process would approval by the state’s Legislative Council. This appears to be a mere formality given the high level of support for legal online sports betting in the state.

Under the current timeline, legal mobile sports betting in Arkansas could go live as early as February. The big target date for launch would be in time for the NFL’s Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 13.

AR Sports Betting Rules

One thing that Arkansas did get right was allowing betting on collegiate sporting events, including betting on in-state teams. The Arkansas Razorbacks are the most popular college program in the state, especially when it comes to football. 

Betting on professional and international sporting events is also offered in Arkansas, but each sportsbook can choose which markets to feature. There are currently no esports markets in the state, but there is not a law prohibiting this from taking place. 

AR Sports Betting Regulations

AR sports betting was able to launch rather quickly as there wasn’t’ a long legal process to change the old gambling laws. A referendum was put in front of voters in November 2018, and that measure passed, changing the state constitution to allow for sports betting.

The Arkansas Racing Commission was put in charge of the sports betting industry, and that group regulates each operator and casino. Sports betting revenue is taxed at a rate of 13% for the first $150 million and 20% after that. However, the new proposal would impose a hefty 51% tax on mobile sports betting revenue.

The sports betting vote in 2018 did not include provisions for online sports betting. The ARC was given the authority to pursue that change with legislative approval.

Summary

Arkansas sports bettors have had to travel to one of the three casino retail sportsbooks to place a wager. The lack of online betting has been hurting the betting handle and revenue numbers, leaving Arkansas as a small sports betting market.

The current sports betting rules have been revised by the Arkansas Racing Commission. While nothing has changed since they were put in place in 2019, the new revisions pave the way for the addition of legal online sports betting. Retail sports betting will also expand when that fourth casino location finally opens for business.

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