Arkansas Is Open For Online Sportsbooks But Who Is Actually Interested In Moving In?

Written By Derek Helling on February 23, 2022
Online Sports Betting In Arkansas Set To Launch In March

There are no more legal impediments to Arkansas online sports betting. That doesn’t mean online sportsbooks think it’s a natural fit for them, though. Due to the details of the newly minted rules, some might hesitate.

The rules give AR casinos the lion’s share of revenue that will come from wagering on sports through online platforms. There is some incentive for them to get into the market, however. It’s just all about the math for them.

Arkansas online sports betting is no longer illegal

Last week, a committee of the AR legislature approved rules from the state’s racing commission allowing gaming licensees in the state to take bets online. The state’s casinos can either launch their own platforms or contract with online sportsbooks to handle that for them.

The licensees can begin taking bets online on Friday, March 4. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will do so on that date. It’s unclear which online sportsbooks are actually interested in getting into AR right now.

According to Matthew Waters of Legal Sports Report, Bet Saracen is one app that Arkansasans can expect to be operational “for March Madness.” Saracen CMO Carlton Saffa did not commit to a firm date.

Other sportsbook operators have been non-committal in terms of their interest in the Natural State. There’s a very good reason why, if you look at the situation from their perspective.

National-high revenue sharing breakdown in Arkansas

The AR Racing Commission‘s rules govern the revenue breakdown between the casino and its online sportsbook partner. The rules specify that the casino will keep 51% of the hold from sports wagering.

That equals the highest revenue share rate in the nation. Only New York has a setup that equals it. Revenue sharing rates in other states typically vary from under 7% to 20%. Neighboring states Tennessee has a 20% rate, and Louisiana assesses revenue from online wagers at 15%.

That has given operators reason to pause and weigh their options. Arkansas’ population is comparable to two other states with legal online sports betting; Colorado and Oregon. However, there are relevant distinctions between those markets.

Claim Your $1,050 Bonus at DraftKings Sportsbook
1
UP TO $1,050 FREE
New User Bonus. T&Cs Apply.
NBA Playoffs Promo: Bet $5 Win $150
PLUS $50 Free On Deposit 
PLUS Up to $1,000 Deposit Bonus
To Claim: Click Play Now

Will Arkansas be more like Colorado or Oregon?

It’s important to note that AR lacks the major professional sports teams that both CO and OR boast. However, AR is home to an SEC-member institution. It’s unclear whether interest in betting on Razorbacks events would make up for the lack of teams like the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers.

Important distinctions start with the competitiveness of the market. Oregon has given the OR Lottery a state “monopoly” on online sports wagering. In CO, on the other hand, many online sportsbooks operate simultaneously.

For most of the time that online sports betting has operated in OR, the Lottery ran its own platform. That platform severely lacked marketing and promotion largely because the Lottery knew it had no competition in the market.

That has played a role in Colorado’s market being far more lucrative than Oregon’s. For example, bettors wagered $469 million in November of last year in CO. Meanwhile, bettors in OR put down $32.6 million in the same month.

If operators stray from AR due to the high revenue share, the lack of choices and promotions could push AR more toward Oregon’s end than Colorado’s. Individual sportsbooks’ decisions on the market are the thing to watch now.

Photo by Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Derek Helling Avatar
Written by
Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

View all posts by Derek Helling
Privacy Policy