The Arkansas Joint Budget Committee has officially approved mobile sports betting rules in the state, allowing Arkansans the ability to place mobile wagers — just in time for March Madness.
Casinos in Arkansas now are allowed to launch sports betting apps with a 10-day waiting period, setting up a potential launch for the beginning of March. Retail wagering has been legal in the state since 2018. The budget committee approved the Arkansas Racing Commission’s proposed rule without any debate Tuesday morning.
According to the new rules, each Arkansas retail casino — there are currently three in operation with potential for a fourth in Pope County — is allowed two mobile betting vendors. Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis and Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs are all approved to offer mobile betting, with Saracen Casino Resort being the first to come forward with plans to launch its BetSaracen app in the coming days.
Though not all Arkansas casinos will be ready to launch a mobile sports betting platform by the end of next week, the casinos that are prepared aim to enter the mobile sports betting market before the SEC men’s basketball tournament, which begins March 9 in Tampa. The Arkansas Razorbacks figure to be one of the favorites to win the tournament.
Despite surrounding controversy in recent months, the Arkansas Racing Commission approved mobile sports betting rules that require third-party sportsbook operators to partner with Arkansas’ three retail casinos. Retail location must receive at least 51 percent of revenue from the partnership.
Most states don’t include that provision, as operators often receive the majority of revenue, in part because of the marketing costs associated with customer acquisition. Other costs, like providing the technology to support a mobile betting platform, also often fall on the operator. National operators frequently spoke out against the revenue-sharing rule during the approval process, therefore it’s likely some national operators will stay out of Arkansas for now.