Arkansas Lawmaker Seeks Sports Betting Clarity

Date IconLast Updated: Sep 28th, 2022
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Arkansas Lawmaker Seeks Sports Betting Clarity
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An Arkansas legislator recently sent a letter to state gaming regulators seeking detailed information on sports betting in Arkansas.

In the letter, Rep. John Maddox, R-Mena, asked for a monthly sports betting report with one category showing bets placed on mobile apps and another pointing to the money wagered at casino sportsbooks. Maddox also wants to know how much the bettors are winning. 

“It is important for my colleagues and I to monitor, as these data points provide insight to the overall sports betting marketplace in Arkansas,” Maddox said in the letter.

Sports Betting In Two Categories

The June 15 letter is addressed to John “Smokey” Campbell, director of the Arkansas Racing Commission. The commission regulates gaming in the state, including horse and dog racing, casino games and sports betting.

Maddox said he wants the detailed sports betting information provided to members of the House Committee on Insurance and Commerce. He is the committee’s vice chairman.

Nikki Langston, the commission’s administrative analyst, has made monthly gaming reports from Arkansas casinos available for several years. This includes revenue from slot machines, table games and sports betting.

However, sports betting figures now are put into separate “sportsbook mobile” and “sportsbook retail” categories. The “sportsbook retail” figures include revenue generated at ticket windows inside casinos and sports betting kiosks on the gaming floor.

Saracen Shows Mobile Losses

For the past couple of months, sports betting revenue figures have produced mixed results for the state’s casinos.

At Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, the BetSaracen mobile app has lost $532,364 since becoming available to bettors in May

These losses have been attributed in part to promotional giveaways to new customers signing up for the app. The app lost $230,948 in May and $301,416 in June.

Southland Records Decline In June 

Though sportsbooks and kiosks already were in operation at Arkansas casinos, mobile sports betting did not become legal until March. 

Southland Casino Racing launched its computer platform and mobile app, Betly Sportsbook, soon after legalization, followed by BetSaracen in May.

Southland reported net mobile wins of $458,692 in May and $195,281 in June. Inside the casino, the sportsbook won $136,071 in May but lost $22,826 in June.

In Hot Springs, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort plans to launch its mobile sports betting app before football season begins in August. The resort’s on-site ticket windows and kiosks recorded combined net wins in May ($145,437) and June ($103,169).

51% Provision Creates Chatter

Major national bookmakers, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, do not operate sports betting mobile apps in Arkansas.

A state rule approved in the spring requires these national bookmakers to share 51% percent of profits with local casinos when partnering on a mobile app. These national companies typically share 5-15%.

John Burris, a former Arkansas legislator representing a coalition of national operators, told the 51% provision discourages these out-of-state bookmakers from participating in Arkansas. 

He said the Legislature might attempt to undo the 51% provision at the 2023 session in Little Rock.

Maddox told this week he does not plan to seek a change in the profit-sharing rule but has seen Twitter chatter regarding that possibility from others. He did not recall who sent the tweets.

Many bookmakers will skip Arkansas, as other states are offering better conditions. The latest example is Kansas, where big players like FanDuel and DraftKings are already among the Kansas online sportsbooks that are planning to go live in a couple of months.