Bet Saracen was widely expected to be the first Arkansas sports betting app to go live, around March Madness.
That did not happen, of course. The process was held up for two months by various delays and is still not entirely complete, but so far the results are positive after launching online AR sports betting May 10, said Carlton Saffa, CMO of Saracen Casino.
“Everything’s been good,” Saffa told LSR Monday. “Our signups have been outpacing where we thought we’d be. Our handle has been solid, especially considering relatively speaking there’s not a whole lot to bet on right now.”
Big market for online Arkansas sports betting?
Bet Saracen was beaten to the market by Betly, the sportsbook brand from Delaware North and GAMING1. The brand went live with its desktop platform March 8, and followed with its Android app March 10 and its iOS app April 26.
March results suggest there is pent-up demand to bet online legally in the state. The state topped the $10 million mark for handle for the first time despite having three retail sportsbooks since January 2020.
Betly grabbed the biggest handle share of any book, with 30.9% of all bets despite not having an iOS app the entire month.
Bet Saracen still waiting on Visa, Mastercard
Bet Saracen is still without two important payment options in Visa and Mastercard, but Saffa felt the app had waited long enough:
“We have all of it ready on our end, we’re just waiting on the payment processors. You know, it’s much the same story that caused us this two-month delay. But we got to a point where we just said look, we’re at a place where we can launch a full-featured product, we’ll just be short a few payment options. People have been very understanding.”
The app launched with PayPal as a funding option and expanded with Venmo on Saturday. The app also has retail deposit and withdrawal options through PayNearMe.
Opportunity bigger than just Arkansas
Saffa noted the Bet Saracen brand has five TV ads running across the state and is reaching new customers that are outside the casino’s “traditional trade zone.” But the opportunity is much bigger than just residents in Arkansas.
- Mississippi, which only allows retail betting.
- Missouri, which did not pass its sports betting bill this year.
- Oklahoma, which tried but failed to legalize sports betting through its tribal casino partners.
- Texas, which is starting to see more support for legal sports betting but nothing is guaranteed.