Mobile sports betting in Arkansas might arrive sooner than expected.
The Arkansas Racing Commission approved a rule change to the state gaming law that would allow mobile wagering. However, the new rule must first receive approval from the Arkansas Legislative Council.
When could Arkansas mobile sports betting begin?
According to the schedule, the legislative council will meet on Jan. 28. But according to Racing Commission spokesman Scott Hardin, there is no certainty that the new rule will make it onto the legislative agenda.
“Whether this item makes the January agenda is yet to be determined,” Hardin told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “If ALC approves, the rule changes allowing mobile sports betting would be effective immediately.”
Currently, only retail sports betting exists at the three commercial casinos. Those casinos include Saracen Casino Resort, Southland Casino Racing, and Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.
A fourth casino, Legends Resort, and casino in Pope County also received the green light to offer sports betting. The Pope County property will open later in 2022.
Extra language in the new rule
In addition to mobile sports betting, the new rule also states established casinos receive 51% of the revenue when partnering with online operators.
Andrew Winchell, FanDuel director of governmental affairs, said requiring such a significant split would scare away top operators.
John Burris, who represents online sports betting operators DraftKings Inc., FanDuel Inc., BetMGM, Fanatics, and Bally’s — said operators were excited when Arkansas sports betting was announced.
“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.”
“I think that perception has developed, but it’s really not the case. We view it as an opportunity to bring to a marketplace through the casino’s revenue and a player who is generally being unregulated and utilized now.”
Still, he asked commissioners to amend the rule to allow sports betting companies to negotiate the split directly with the casinos. They (casinos) would have complete control to “accept or reject” that offer.
“We’re asking the rule and government not to put restrictions that prevent this from being an open and competitive marketplace,” Burris said.
Additionally, under the new rule change. Any mobile application with a brand that is providing an online sportsbook intermediary must, on its website, conspicuously bear the name of the casino license with which they affiliate.
Whether or not mobile sports betting becomes a reality, neighboring states are already embracing the trend.
Tennessee is a pure mobile wagering state, while Louisiana is expected to launch mobile operations later this year.