Arkansas Casino Launches BetSaracen Mobile App

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Arkansas Casino Launches BetSaracen Mobile App
© USA Today

Arkansas’ Saracen Casino Resort has launched its online sports betting app.

The mobile app and web platform became available Monday under the BetSaracen brand.

BetSaracen is the second mobile sports betting platform to launch in Arkansas.

A browser-based Betly Sportsbook became available online March 5, one day after mobile sports betting was legalized in the state. The Betly app later was made available for smartphone users. 

Betly Sportsbook is owned by Buffalo, New York-based Delaware North. The mobile app and online site are hosted in Arkansas by Southland Casino Racing, a Delaware North casino and greyhound track in West Memphis. Dog racing is ending at Southland in December. 

Arkansas’ third casino, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, is expected to launch a sports betting app in the next few weeks.

Oaklawn’s Horse Racing App Available

The Hot Springs resort already offers Oaklawn Anywhere, an app allowing bettors to wager on horse races. Sports bets are not permitted on horse racing apps. 

The historic racetrack at Oaklawn is home to the Arkansas Derby, an important annual prelude to the Triple Crown races now underway. 

This year’s Triple Crown began with last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, won by long shot Rich Strike. 

The Triple Crown will be rounded out by the Preakness Stakes on May 21 and Belmont Stakes on June 11.

Mobile Wagering Wins Approval

Late last year, the Arkansas Racing Commission voted unanimously for a rule change to allow mobile wagering in the state. On-site sports wagering at ticket windows and betting kiosks already had been legalized. 

The rule change for mobile wagering required legislative approval before it could be implemented. 

On Feb. 22, the legislative Joint Budget Committee gave the final OK to mobile sports wagering. After a mandatory filing period in the secretary of state’s office, mobile wagering became legal in Arkansas.
When the mandatory waiting period ended March 4, Southland launched its Betly browser-based sports betting platform the next day.

Saracen had hoped to have its mobile platform available in time for the March Madness basketball tournaments. However, the casino faced delays caused by approval from app stores and vendors such as credit card companies.

51% Profit-Sharing Provision Unique To Arkansas

The Racing Commission mobile wagering rule change includes a provision requiring national online bookmakers, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, to share 51% of profits when partnering with a local casino on a mobile app. These national bookmakers normally share 5-15% of profits.

Local casinos argued the majority of profits should remain in-state, where thousands of casino workers are employed.

The national bookmakers said profit-sharing arrangements should be worked out between themselves and local casinos, not mandated by state government. 

Arkansas is the only state with profit-sharing provision established by a regulatory rule. The Racing Commission oversees all gaming matters in the state.

To date, the only online bookmakers operating in Arkansas are those associated with local casinos.

A lobbyist for the national bookmakers told he will seek to overturn the 51% profit-sharing provision at the legislative session beginning in 2023.

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