Arkansas Sports Betting Rules Clear Key Hurdle As State Inches Toward Launch

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Arkansas sports betting

The state racing commission pushed Arkansas sports betting a step closer to reality Thursday by approving governing rules.

The Arkansas Racing Commission issued proposed rules in January following state voters approving legal sports betting in November. According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, commission approval of the 314-page rules draft sends it on to state legislators.

A legislative committee will review the rules next week and certify they meet legal requirements. From there, they will take effect after a 10-day waiting period.

Not quite yet for AR sports betting

Arkansas sports betting is not expected to launch until later this year at the earliest. The voter-backed ballot measure requires state regulators to start accepting applications to operate sports betting by June.

Arkansas will tax casino revenue at 13 percent on the first $150 million and 20 percent thereafter. The current tax rate of 18 percent will drop as a result of the measure.

As a result, the state projects a loss of $36 million in revenue in FY 2020 and 2021.

The Arkansas Racing Commission will decide on a licensing fee, not to exceed $250,000. That is the only licensing fee required of operators.

College AD suggestions do not make cut

The commission unanimously approved the Arkansas sports betting rules without edits suggested by state college athletic directors.

A letter sent by the ADs during a public comment review period highlighting their desire for safeguards:

No one can deny the tremendous financial and reputational harm that a sports betting scandal would cause to our state universities and student athletes, along with millions of fans, alumni and donors who support them.

The letter asked the commission to allow colleges input on restricting certain types of wagers “that carry a greater risk of student-athlete exploitation and collegiate game integrity.” The ADs also requested greater information sharing to help combat potential problems.

Gotta show up to bet on the Hogs

The most interesting portion of the Arkansas sports betting rules approved by the commission does concern collegiate events, though.

In order to bet on in-state events involving Arkansas teams, bettors will need to place their wagers inside a casino. From the Democrat-Gazette:

Sports-betting regulations were passed without modifications suggested by four athletic directors from state universities or those from a report by a Drake University law professor, which was funded by casino opponents.

The only caveat is that betting on amateur sporting events in the state must be done on-site at a licensed casino and cannot be conducted by telephone or the Internet.

“There is a little bit of a safety net by keeping it in-house,” said Alex Lieblong, commission chairman.

The voter-approved amendment did not include specific reference to mobile wagering, but this passage suggests it is under consideration.