Delay in Arkansas Mobile Sports Betting
The Arkansas Racing Commission officially changed sports betting rules in the state in December to allow for online wagering. The goal was to have these online sportsbooks up and running by the Super Bowl, but that is no longer a possibility.
There are a couple of reasons for the delay, with the biggest coming from the Arkansas Racing Commission. That group held an emergency meeting in January, and it decided to change some of the language of the current rules.
Online sports betting still has to get official approval from the Arkansas Legislative Council, and that group was set to meet on the issue in January. With the change in the language, voting on mobile sports betting was pulled from the table and pushed until the middle of February.
Governor Asa Hutchinson is a proponent of legal online sports betting, and the Arkansas Legislative Council is expected to approve the new rules at some point. Since sportsbooks will miss out on offering betting for the Super Bowl, March Madness now becomes the new target.
The final step would be for the Joint Budget Committee to approve online sports wagering as well, and then sportsbooks could launch within a couple of days.
Profit-Sharing a Potential Problem
Sportsbook operators are all in support of mobile sports betting in Arkansas, but they do not favor all of the current rules. The Arkansas Racing Commission supports a profit-sharing plan that calls for sportsbooks to share 51 percent of profits with the local casinos.
The Arkansas Racing Commission wants to protect its local casinos with this rule, but it will be costly for operators. A coalition of sportsbooks is expected to speak out against this rule at the Legislative Committee meeting, and they are hoping that each sportsbook can simply create an agreement with its casino partner.
Most sportsbooks share between five-15 percent of profits with casinos in other states, which is what this coalition will push for. This topic will likely be discussed in great detail over the coming days, but it’s unclear if any changes will come to the current rules.
Arkansas a Limited Sports Betting Market
The sports betting numbers that come in from Arkansas each month are extremely small compared to other states in the U.S. There are currently just three retail sports betting locations, but a fourth casino will be built at some point.
If this new bill is officially signed into law, there could be plenty of growth coming to the state. According to the new rules, each of the four casinos would be given two online skins a piece to partner with online sportsbooks.
The final rules when it comes to profit sharing might keep some operators out of the state, but both DraftKings and FanDuel are expected to apply for a license.