Mobile Arkansas Sports Betting On Hold For Legislative Review

Written By Matthew Waters on January 27, 2022 - Last Updated on April 5, 2022
Arkansas sports betting

It appears discussions around mobile sports betting in Arkansas will continue for at least another month, if not longer.

The rule change was pulled off Wednesday’s Arkansas Legislative Council‘s subcommittee agenda. That came after a slight change in language to the proposed rule Tuesday.

“The Casino Gaming Rules were pulled from the Administrative Rules Subcommittee agenda because several legislators wanted more time to review the rules,” a commission spokesperson told LSR. “The rules will not be back on the agenda until some time in February or March 2022.”

Online Arkansas sportsbooks could have launched in time to offer Super Bowl betting throughout the state if the change had been approved. The rule change is effective 10 days after approval so it is up to operators how quickly they want to be online after that.

One word tweaked in Arkansas sports betting rule

The Arkansas Racing Commission called a meeting Tuesday to change the word ‘revenue’ to ‘receipt’ in the proposed rule:

“Online sports pool” means an operation in which wagers on sports events are made over the internet on websites or mobile applications through computers, mobile devices, or other approved interactive devices accepted through a gaming system approved by the Commission. In order to operate an online sports pool, a casino licensee must first operate and continue to operate a sports pool from the casino licensee’s premises. Further, operation of an online sports pool shall be prohibited in circumstances in which a majority of the net gaming receipts, as defined in Amendment 100, from the online sports pool is paid to a third-party vendor assisting in the operating of the sports pool.

The change does fit the state’s official definitions, In those definitions, however, net receipts simply means gross revenue minus winnings.

“The change doesn’t alter the definition or anything to do with the overall rule,” Department of Finance spokesman Scott Hardin told LSR. “In order to provide adequate time to address legislative concerns, the Racing Commission asked that the rules be pulled from this week’s legislative hearings and moved to the next meeting.”

Sportsbooks still working to change revenue share?

There could still be a push behind the scenes to change the economics of the proposed rule. That was the hot topic of December’s Arkansas Racing Commission meeting when the mobile move received approval.

BetMGM and DraftKings Sportsbook also wanted four skins per casino instead of the approved two.

Sportsbooks do not want to share a majority of the revenue with a casino partner as stipulated by the rule. Those revenue-share agreements are typically closer to 5% to 15% on average.

Carlton Saffa, chief marketing officer of Saracen Casino, noted operators were happy to pay 51% in taxes to launch New York sportsbooks.

Saffa tweeted the delay did not come from the casinos:

“The @SaracenCasinoAR crew was ready to speak in support of the rule. Racing Commission passed it 7-0. Broad support for mobile wagering. Casinos aren’t slowing this down. Would loved to have been authorized to do this in this week’s ALC meetings. Am optimistic for next month.”

Mobile sports betting expanding around Arkansas

The South used to be a dead zone when it came to mobile US sports betting but that is changing.

Online Tennessee sportsbooks launched in November 2020. Louisiana sports betting expands to mobile Friday. Three other border states have renewed pushes to legalize mobile betting this year as well:

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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