In the southern American state of Arkansas and regulators have reportedly approved a series of measures that could soon allow the jurisdiction’s land-based casinos to begin offering online sportsbetting.
According to a Thursday report from the Arkansas Times newspaper, the unanimous move from the seven-member Arkansas Racing Commission comes a little over three years after voters in ‘The Natural State’ passed Amendment 100 to authorize the establishment of four Las Vegas-style casinos alongside the legalization of retail sportsbetting. The source detailed that the draft rules on remote sports wagering have now been sent to legislators for their consideration and could well be ratified by the bipartisan Arkansas Legislative Council by the end of the month to go live in time for Super Bowl LVI on February 13.
At its most recent meeting on Thursday and the Arkansas Racing Commission reportedly heard from a number of groups both opposed and in favor of bringing mobile-friendly online sports wagering to the state of slightly over three million people. The regulator was purportedly also harangued by representatives from a number of national bookmaking providers including DraftKings Incorporated and MGM Resorts International over a clause that would require host casinos retain a minimum of 51% of any net sportsbetting revenues.
The Arkansas Times reported that large online bookmakers usually ink deals to supply their online platforms to American land-based casinos in exchange for keeping up to 95% of any resultant receipts. Such firms purportedly often contend that they deserve such a high rate because their own marketing and technology efforts subsequently increase revenues for their operating partners.
However, a representative for the Saracen Resort Casino in rural Jefferson County, Carlton Saffa, reportedly told the Arkansas Racing Commission that some of the state’s casinos are planning to launch their own independent online sportsbetting platforms so as to keep the majority of any cash earned within the borders of the state. The lobbyist for the Quapaw Nation-owned facility purportedly moreover questioned the motives of national firms that would object to a 51% clause for Arkansas while simultaneously clamoring for a license to operate in New York, which requires an analogous commitment.
For its part and local radio broadcaster KTLO used its own report to explain that Arkansans are currently allowed to place in-person sports wagers at three casinos encompassing the Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, Saracen Resort Casino and Southland Park Gaming and Racing facilities. It disclosed that a new gambling-friendly venue coming to Pope County is to additionally be included in this club while local punters last year wagered a total of around $60 million on sports as diverse as American football, ice hockey and baseball to earn the state some $1.2 million in tax revenues.
Scott Hardin from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration reportedly told the assembled regulators that these numbers could easily triple following the launch of online sportsbetting even with the inclusion of stringent geolocation and identification protocols.
Hardin reportedly declared…
“Arkansas had $33 million in bets in 2020 moving to $60 million in 2021. More and more Arkansans want to participate in this and I think this is why you see the Arkansas Racing Commission approving this.”