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Ever since November 2018, Arkansas residents have been legally allowed to make sports bets, the only caveat being that all wagers must be placed in person at one of the state’s three casinos, a limitation that could soon be lifting if a rule allowing mobile sportsbooks is approved.
The new rule would allow Arkansas’ casinos to begin taking online wagers, and it was approved by the Legislative Council’s Administrative Rule Review Subcommittee last week, which subsequently recommended it for approval by the Joint Budget Committee.
If the Joint Budget Committee green lights the rule in its meeting this week, then it would go into effect ten days afterward, and at that point all three of the state’s casinos could begin accepting online bets via mobile sportsbooks.
Given that Arkansas’ retail sports betting market handle more than doubled from $33 million in 2020 to $67.7 million in 2021, adding a lucrative mobile option for Natural State bettors will most certainly increase those totals and the resulting tax revenue should rise, as well.
The only pushback is by the mobile sportsbooks who are understandably not happy with the terms of the newly proposed rule.
In most states where mobile sports betting is legal, regulations grant the casinos between 5% and 15% of the proceeds, a respectable cut of the action that rewards the mobile sportsbooks’ partners for helping to make that online market possible.
In Arkansas, however, the new rule would give casinos more than half of the sports betting profits, a move that is being accused of violating the federal commerce clause since “the state can’t discriminate against an out-of-state company for the benefit of an in-state company.”
One proponent of the new rule, State Representative Jim Dotson, was asked about this potential violation and judging by his answer his side is not concerned with any such violations, saying:
After our review of the rule, we do feel like we can defend the rule if challenged.
The goal for Arkansas’ mobile sports betting market is to launch by the start of March just in time for the NCAA’s yearly basketball tournament.
It makes sense for Arkansas lawmakers to have mobile sports betting market set up and ready to go by the first week of March since that would give gamblers in the Land of Opportunity the chance to place bets on the NCAA’s Final Four “March Madness” tournament.
The first four games of the Final Four tourney happen on March 15-16 in Dayton, Ohio, and for sports gamblers in Arkansas and just about everywhere, with sixty-eight teams being gradually whittled down to one champion, those games are prime targets for betting and millions of dollars will be at stake.
Opposing arguments are being made by the sportsbooks that would be affected by this new rule – DraftKings Inc., FanDuel Inc., BetMGM, Fanatics and Bally’s – but they are running out of time since Arkansas’ Joint Budget Committee should make the call sometime this week.
Keep checking back for all the latest news and updates on this ongoing story.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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