- Arkansas legalized sports betting in November of 2018 via voter referendum.
- Sports betting in Arkansas is currently restricted to four land-based locations, none of which have activated sportsbooks quite yet.
- Arkansas sports betting bill AR SB 669 would also permit mobile wagering and provide a fee to major sports leagues.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Several months have passed since legal sports betting in Arkansas was passed by voters, but further regulations are still being introduced in the state legislature.
Earlier this week, Arkansas sports betting bill AR SB 669, also known as the Athletic Event Wagering Act of 2019, was introduced in the State Senate by AR Senator Will Bond and it happens to come with interesting provisions to say the least.
The first measure that stands out is a prohibition of bets placed on the WWE, Special Olympics, and American Kennel Club dog shows.
Most land-based sportsbooks don’t normally offer wagering opportunities for non-traditional sporting events, but this bill specifies and mentions these entities specifically. The bill was also introduced the week of WrestleMania.
WrestleMania is the WWE’s largest annual event and is televised worldwide. According to Bleacher Report the event draws in about as large of a crowd as an NCAA football championship or Super Bowl on any given year.
Even with the popularity of the WWE and it’s potential to bring in a vast number of bets, this bill focuses much more on professional sports leagues.
One of the powers it grants the NCAA and pro sports leagues is the ability to ban betting on any athletic contest of their choice. They would simply have to notify the Arkansas Racing Commission prior to the match.
What’s more uncommon is the fact that the bill would force gaming institutions with sportsbooks to pay the professional sports leagues 1% percent of their total sports betting handle. Most legal sports betting venues only retain between 5-7% of their total handle so this would equate to a sizable contribution.
This provision comes even after the leagues have lessened their demand for some type of payment.
“We don’t call it an integrity fee,” Major League Baseball Executive Vice President Kenny Gersh said.“I’ll call it what it is, which is a royalty. Also, one percent is not anything we’ve been asking for since the very beginning since we realized that was not the correct amount. So we’ve been talking about a quarter point.”
While some of these potential rules may seem a bit off the path of other states expanding their gaming operations, one aspect that does seem to fall in line is the ability for sportsbooks in Arkansas to offer a mobile betting platform.
Neighboring state Mississippi allows land-based sports wagering facilities to offer mobile bets but restrict them to the premises of the facility. Offering this type of wagering could give AR an edge for sports bettors living near the border and would set a tax of 13.5% for mobile betting revenues.
Where Does Arkansas Sports Betting Go From Here
As of now, sportsbooks in Arkansas have yet to open, but they are expected to launch later this year.
Southland Gaming & Racing already began promoting their BetLucky sportsbook last month, but their parent company Delaware North has suspended their Betlucky sportsbooks in West Virginia due to a contract dispute with their sports betting supplier.
This could delay the unveiling of Arkansas sports betting and leave more time for state lawmakers to add any extra rules that the sportsbooks would have to comply with.
As of now The Athletic Event Wagering Act of 2019 has been referred to the State Agencies & Government Affairs Committee within the Senate.
The bill has left out certain aspects such as an annual license fee, so it will be up to the legislature to decide whether or not they want to add, change, or let the bill die altogether.
– In his career, Hasan has worked both local and state government positions—including the Attorney General’s Office in Florida. On top of being familiar with the legislative process, he has also been researching and writing on the legality of sports betting across the US. Outside of work you’ll most likely find him producing or playing music, playing sports, or working on creative writing projects. You’ll also catch him at Doak Campbell Stadium cheering on the Noles.