The Arkansas state joint budget committee approved rules that allow the state’s retail sports betting operators to begin offering the convenience of online wagering. On March 4th, Southland Casino launched Betly, the state’s first online sportsbook.
Arkansas approved legal sports betting in November of 2018, with casinos beginning to take sports wagers at retail brick and mortar establishments beginning in July of 2019. The state has now taken another step forward, allowing bettors to place their wagers online from anywhere in the state. The final rules governing online sports betting in Arkansas were approved and took effect on March 4th. Southland Casino has already launched its online platform, Betly, with more of the state’s operators expecting to launch mobile apps and websites in the coming weeks and months.
The move comes just in time for the NCAA Tournament. March Madness is a major betting event for fans everywhere, and with the Razorbacks projected for a #4 seed in this year’s tournament it will create additional excitement for Arkansas fans rooting for them to make a deep run. The additional flexibility provided by online wagers will make it easier and more convenient for bettors to get in on the action – hopefully, with a raft of new online bookmakers to choose from very soon.
The final governing rules allow current operators to run up to two online sports betting platforms and gives them the freedom to either create their own mobile solution or partner with an existing national operator to utilize theirs. Unlike laws in any other state, however, provisions in the Arkansas legislation dictate how revenue must be shared between the partner platform and the land-based casino. The rules mandate that the land-based operators receive 51% of the revenue generated by online wagers. Laws in other states allow the revenue split to be negotiated privately between the two parties, and in the majority of these cases, national online operators receive somewhere between 85% and 95% of the online betting revenue.
This enforced revenue split has prevented major online sports betting sites such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM from pursuing partnerships with Arkansas casinos. Without the existing technology used by the major national platforms, casinos in Arkansas are left to create their own. This is the cause for the slow adaptation. Southland Casino’s Betly platform is browser-based as of now, with a more robust mobile app still in development. Other casinos are still in the development stage of their technology solution, after waiting to ensure the measure would be approved before investing in development.
Sports wagers in land-based casinos generated $1.2 million in tax revenue for the state in 2021. Since its inception, bettors have placed more than $122.5 million in wagers at land-based casinos, generating more than $2.1 million in tax revenue during the life of the program. With the ability for bettors to place their wagers online, tax revenue is expected to at least triple for 2022. This will have a positive impact on both state and local economies, as a portion of the revenue is distributed amongst county and city governments.
At this stage in their legal sports betting, Arkansas casinos sport one of the highest win rates among states where sports betting is legalized. Their 12.72% win rate ranks fifth out of the current legal states. With the expectation of both large volume increases as well as an influx of more casual bettors due to the increased flexibility provided by online wagering, Arkansas is in a position to reap significant financial benefits for the state as the popularity of sports betting continues to grow.
The increased tax revenue is good for all state residents, and the convenience of online wagering and competition among sportsbooks is good for bettors. While bettors will not be able to use the cutting edge technology developed by the large online operators, Arkansas casinos will have a larger profit expectation that should allow for ample investment into their own platforms. The end result will be a unique marketplace with a variety of options for sports betting enthusiasts all over the state. Be sure to keep up to date with Betting.net for the latest legal gaming news!
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