Changes Coming to Arkansas Sports Betting?
The Arkansas Racing Commission will be holding a meeting on December 30, and there are several key questions set for a vote. The most significant rule change would be a vote that would allow for statewide mobile betting.
Arkansas currently allows sports betting, but all of the action must occur at kiosks set up at the three casinos in the state. This has kept the state from seeing much growth in the industry and has kept some of the top sportsbooks from entering Arkansas.
If this vote did pass, each casino would be allowed access to a pair of online skins. These skins could be used to partner with online sportsbook operators and would create a much larger market in the state.
The Arkansas legislature would still have to approve any new rule changes, but that could happen as early as January 2022. There is also language in that new rule that would grant casinos 51 percent of the sports betting revenue, a major loss for online bookmakers.
In other states with online sports betting, casinos and operators typically have a five-15 percent profit share. Some of the top operators, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, have already been outspoken against the new rule and its potential impacts.
Casino Revenue Benefits State
The local casinos have been pushing the Arkansas Racing Commission to make these sweeping changes to the current industry. These casinos are willing to allow online sports betting to happen, but only if they receive a majority of the profits.
These casinos have argued that it is important to keep the revenue at the local casinos because they employ a large number of local residents. That money could then be pumped back into the local economy instead of going to online operators that would use it for their own interests.
A fourth casino property is set to be built in Pope County at some point, but that project continues to be delayed. If this new rule was passed, the Pope County Casino would fall under these same laws.
Bookmakers Want Government to Stay Out
The bookmakers are opposed to losing out on this much revenue, and this rule would be a complete game-changer in the industry. Some of the top bookmakers have formed a coalition to change the mind of the Arkansas Racing Commission.
Bet on Arkansas is the name of the coalition, and there have been several advertisements visible throughout the state. This group argues that this profit-sharing agreement should be negotiated between the casinos and the sportsbook instead of being set by the government.
The Arkansas Racing Commission can amend the rule as it is currently proposed to accept any part of the rule change.