Arkansas Sports Betting Session

  • The Arkansas Joint Budget Committee meeting ended with the approval of mobile betting in Arkansas.
  • This comes following the committee approving new rules for the mobile market a few days prior.
  • The aim is to have mobile betting live in time for March Madness.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Mobile betting in Arkansas can become a reality in time for the NCAA March Madness tournament.

Following the Arkansas Joint Budget Committee hearing, lawmakers approved rule changes to launch mobile betting in Arkansas.

Arkansas Mobile Sports Betting

The committee met following an earlier subcommittee meeting that resulted in rule changes to the current sports betting regulations.

Lawmakers initially approved statewide mobile betting be added and the committee meeting was the final hurdle for things to officially pass.

There was reportedly little debate during the session meeting. This is surprising due to the pushback lawmakers got surrounding its controversial 51% tax requirement from commercial sportsbooks.

The Next Steps

Sportsbooks are now able to apply for betting licenses and can go live following a 10 day filing period. If sportsbooks apply now, they can see their operations active in time for March Madness betting.

One sportsbook is already in the works to see their operation go live, the BetSaracen at the Saracen Casino in Pine Bluff.

“We’ve been working on BetSaracen for a year, so today’s vote is exciting for us and for Arkansas,” said Carlton Saffa, CMO of Sacaren Casino. “We will launch BetSaracen, a first class, Arkansas born and bred mobile wagering app before March Madness.”

The real hurdle will be if major sportsbooks opt-out of launching in Arkansas due to the 51% tax mandate.

Many popular sportsbooks opposed the rules and locals feared this would push them out of the market entirely.

Arkansas tax rate is on the high end of things with markets like New York seeing similar requirements. Most markets see the tax rate set between 8% and 15% so Arkansas taking that big of a cut is mostly unprecedented.

Additionally, Arkansas is not a large market like New York which can justify such a large tax based on population. New York’s mobile market instantly became the biggest sports betting market in the country with the largest single-month handle during its first three weeks.

It is unlikely that Arkansas will see similar success. Still, the appetite for legal sports betting is massive everywhere, so sports betting operators will still launch in Natural State, even if it’s not major sportsbooks.

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