Mobile sports betting could come to Arkansas thanks to a proposed rule change. According to Scott Hardin, an official with the Arkansas Racing Commission, should the change be approved, it would allow residents in the state to place online wagers through the state’s licensed casinos as early as February.
The amendment might be proposed during a November 18 meeting, Hardin said, according to THV11. A draft of the rule change would then be posted online for 30 days to allow public comments and, afterward, it would then be considered by a legislative committee before the commission could approve the change. Finally, it would need a sign-off from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
If approved, mobile sports betting would be allowed around February 1, 2022, estimated the official. The current rule restricts sports betting to on-site wagering at Arkansas’ three casinos: Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, and Oaklawn Casino Resort in Hot Springs.
Currently, all of them offer sports betting: since July 2019, people in the state have wagered more than $86 million in sports wagers. A fourth casino in Pope County may also eventually add to gambling options, though legal battles continue on that front, reports Arkansas Times. The closest thing to a regulated online sportsbook available in Arkansas is Oaklawn Casino’s “Oaklawn Anywhere” app, which allows betting on horse races anywhere within the state.
Arkansas sports betting enthusiasts should remain optimistic that, if the rule were to reach the Governor’s desk, he would sign it. Hutchinson has expressed support for mobile sports wagering in the past, as long as the Racing Commission implements safeguards such as geofencing to restrict betting to approved statewide boundaries.
According to the Governor, statewide mobile sports betting would keep Arkansas competitive with bordering states such as Tennessee and Louisiana, which both have already legalized this form of wagering. When mobile sports betting began in Tennessee, the handle at Southland’s on-site sportsbook dropped sharply.
The rule change would allow casinos in the state to partner with sports betting operators to provide off-site mobile wagering under a tax rate expected to remain the same as other taxes on casino games.
In Arkansas, gambling venues currently pay 13% on all revenue under $150 million. Revenue over $150 million is taxed at 20%. Tax rates in sports betting are applied to sportsbook wins, which is the amount retained after winning bettors are paid.