Arkansas Casinos See Falloff in Sports Betting During December
All three Arkansas casinos experienced a drop in sports betting during December, with one property losing money once winning bettors were paid.
Double-Digit Decline in December
At Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, bettors wagered $3.6 million in December, down from $4.02 million in November, a decline of 10.6%, according to the Arkansas Racing Commission.
Once winning bettors were paid in December, the sportsbook at Southland lost $159,995. One month earlier, Southland won $725,562 from bettors wagering on sports.
November was the first $4 million-plus handle at Southland since mobile sports betting began next door in Tennessee in 2020. The “handle” is the amount of money bettors wager on sports..
Southland is a casino and dog track across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee. It is one of three casinos in Arkansas.
The other two are Oaklawn Casino Resort, a hotel-casino and historic horse track in Hot Springs, and Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff. A fourth casino in Pope County has been approved but has not been built.
Oaklawn’s Handle Declines Slightly
The sportsbook at Oaklawn also saw a lower handle and net win total in December compared to November. The hotel-casino is an hour southwest of centrally located Little Rock.
In December, Oaklawn took in $2.58 million in sports bets. That represents a 4.5% decrease from November’s handle of $2.7 million.
After winners were paid, the casino’s net revenue from sports betting totaled $131,158, a drop of more than 72% from November’s win of $477,749.
Win Total Declines Below Six Figures at Saracen
In Pine Bluff, Saracen took in $1.608 million from sports bettors, about 2% less than November’s $1.641 handle. The casino is 45 minutes south of Little Rock.
The net revenue at Saracen’s sportsbook in December, after winners were paid, totaled $76,436. That is 81.8% below the November revenue total of $420,123.
Mobile Wagering Expected to Boost Sports Betting in Arkansas
The amount of money wagered on sports in Arkansas is expected to increase when mobile sports betting is operational.
On Dec. 30, the state Racing Commission approved a rule change authorizing off-site mobile wagering.
Before mobile sports betting in Arkansas can begin, the rule must go before the states Legislative Council, possibly at its next meeting on Jan. 28, for a vote. If approved, online sports betting could begin in Arkansas by the end of February.
The proposed rule change grants Arkansas casinos 51% of profits in partnerships with national online bookmakers. These bookmakers typically share 5-15%. No other state has a government rule dictating such profit-sharing arrangements.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, has said he supports mobile wagering partly to keep Arkansas competitive with neighboring states, such as Tennessee, where it already is up and running.
In another neighboring state, Louisiana, mobile wagering is expected to begin within weeks, if not sooner.
Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns told Gambling.com he first wants to be sure geofencing works properly to block sports betting in the nine parishes that rejected it in a 2020 statewide election.
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