Arkansas is the latest state to explore online sports betting, and there is plenty of optimism that a bill will be approved at some point in 2021. Retail sports betting has already been legalized and launched in the state, but there has not been much growth in the industry, and the state is seeking for additional revenue.
House Bill 1942, sponsored by Representative Lee Johnson, would legalize online betting in the state, and it could create a very competitive market. According to the language in the bill, each of the casino properties in the state would be able to apply for up to three online sports betting skins.
According to the rules and regulations included in this legislation, betting on both professional and collegiate sporting events would be approved. Sports betting operators would be in charge of ensuring that minors are not placing a bet on sports and that geolocation services are in place.
Another important part of this bill is that remote registration would be allowed, and that should help the online sportsbooks build up a customer base quickly. Nevada and Illinois are now the only two states in the US that require in-person registration.
Arkansas Racing Commission in Control
The Arkansas Racing Commission is currently in charge of regulating and overseeing the retail sports betting industry, and it would be tasked with setting up the online portion as well. Lawmakers would leave the rules and regulations up to the Arkansas Racing Commission, but there would not be much of a change from the current rules.
If this bill were to pass through the legislature, then casinos could begin submitting online sports betting licenses immediately. The Racing Commission would review each license but could issue a temporary license while doing so to allow an operator to begin accepting bets.
Online-only operators would be forced to partner with a current Arkansas casino, but there will be enough online betting skins to go around.
Current Arkansas Sports Betting Locations
Retail sports betting officially began on July 1, 2019, at the Oaklawn, and it was the only option for the rest of that year. Two new properties, Saracen Casino and Southland Casino, both began offering sports betting in 2020.
These properties have had very little success since the first bets were placed but would benefit from being able to offer bets online. A new casino property planned for Pope County would also be eligible to offer retail and online sports betting.
Still Waiting on March Figures
The Arkansas Racing Commission has not yet released the March sports betting numbers, but that should be done by the end of April. February proved to be a disappointing month for the sports betting industry in Arkansas, but it was that way for most of the US.
The total sports betting handle for the month of February in Arkansas was just $4.47 million after it was over $7.2 million in January. Total sports betting revenue fell from $5.8 million to begin 2021 to just $3.8 million during the shortest month of the year.