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Arkansas to join the online sports betting world?

It’s been over 3 years since the Supreme Court ruled to change the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018. Since then 33 states have had some form of sports betting legalized. A few states still remain very much opposed to the idea of legal sports betting but Arkansas is no longer one of them. It seems as though the Natural State is well on its way to legal mobile betting.

Miniature skateboarder on a phone

Arkansas has already allowed for commercial casino gambling in November, sports betting at the casino establishments soon followed in 2019 as well. The stage was set for the last remaining hurdles for online gambling to be legalized and there is hope that may well be overcome in 2022. It was thanks to the bill Issue 4 that allowed for sports betting at these establishments but the bill also includes the option for these establishments to give mobile sports betting the greenlight as well.

While everything is in place to go ahead, it’s not quite over the line yet as there are still a few T’s to cross and I’s to dot.

Mobile sports betting stills needs approval

The Arkansas Racing Commission recently passed a number of governances that will regulate mobile sportsbooks within the state. This should be a positive sign that shows the process moving swiftly but there has been a  hiccup. The main issue has been brought forward by major online sportsbooks like BetMGM and DraftKings and the sticking point is in reference to the GGR (gross gaming revenue). The Arkansas Racing Commission included a point in their governances that states that at least 51% of a sportsbooks GGR must remain with the licensed land-based commercial casino in the state. Naturally, this did not go down particularly well with the potential mobile sportsbook suitors looking to get set up in the state.

These strict wagering dictates have been opposed by the major online sportsbooks because no other state in the US has ever tried to control the revenue share between the online sportsbooks and their land based counterparts. The revenue share is always worked out between the licensee and the vendor which is why big names like DraftKings and BetMGM have real concerns about the way things are moving forward with the governances passed by the ARC.

The mobile sportsbooks claim that they should still keep the majority of the gambling revenue as it is their platforms that are attracting players with their marketing schemes which are of course bought and paid for by the online sportsbooks themselves. To give you an idea, the US gaming industry spent well over half a billion dollars on marketing alone. This would  be of concern to the major online platforms as there would be far less incentive for them to pay the fees for marketing if they weren’t going to get back the revenue share that they felt they deserved for their efforts.

Nothing is certain just yet

Despite receiving this feedback from the major online sportsbooks, the ARC has gone forward with their amendments anyway. The bill states that none of the land based casinos in Arkansas are allowed to operate with a third-party site whereby the third-party site receives the majority of the GGR.

This makes things pretty concrete on that front as the ARC are clearly in no mood to cater to the needs of these sports betting sites. In addition to this, no online sports betting site will be able to operate in the state unless they are partnered with one of the 4 main land-based casinos that are available. So, for now at least, things seem to be on rocky ground going forward. There may yet be online sportsbooks who will agree to these terms but it’s likely that the most popular sports books may opt out of finding home in Arkansas as the juice may not ultimately be worth the squeeze.

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