Arkansas Mobile Wagering Possibly Live by SEC Basketball Tournament

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Arkansas Mobile Wagering Possibly Live by SEC Basketball Tournament
© USA Today

If approved next week, Arkansas mobile sports betting could be live in time for the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament.

Arkansas Razorbacks Will Be Popular Bet

This year’s SEC tournament is scheduled for March 9-13 at Amalie Arena in Tampa. The SEC’s Arkansas Razorbacks, ranked No. 23 nationally, can be expected to attract heavy betting interest in the Natural State.

The tournament's final day falls on Selection Sunday, the date teams are picked to participate in the NCAA Tournament, known as March Madness.

The Razorbacks, with a record of 20-6 on Friday, are projected to be in the NCAA Tournament, which begins March 15.

The Final Four teams will advance to New Orleans for a shot at the national title. The semifinal games are scheduled for April 2 at the Caesars Superdome and the national title game is April 4.

Sport Wagering Rule Includes 51% Casino Profit-Sharing

The start of mobile sports betting in Arkansas depends on a legislative committee vote next week in Little Rock.

The Joint Budget Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposed rule allowing statewide mobile wagering off casino property. Arkansas is home to three casinos.

On Thursday, the Joint Budget Administrative Rule Review Subcommittee approved a key rule legalizing mobile sports betting anywhere in the state.

The rule also grants local casinos 51% of profits in partnering with national online bookmakers such as DraftKings and FanDuel. These bookmakers typically share 5-15%.

Rules approved in the subcommittee require an OK from the full Joint Budget Committee.

The Joint Budget Committee on Thursday adopted four sports wagering framework rules that the subcommittee previously approved. The fifth rule, which is required for mobile wagering to begin, is awaiting action next week.

If the full committee approves the proposed rule, it will be filed for 10 business days at the secretary of state’s office. Under that timeframe, sports betting could begin before the first games are played at the SEC men’s basketball tournament.

The launch of mobile wagering then would depend upon whether Arkansas casinos can get mobile apps up and running in time for the tournament in Tampa. The casinos also can partner with national online bookmakers.

Arkansas Sportsbook Revenue Soars in January

While off-site mobile sports betting is not yet operational in Arkansas, bettors can wager in person at sportsbooks and kiosks inside the state’s three casinos.

The casinos are Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, Oaklawn Casino Resort in Hot Springs and Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis.

In January, these casinos took in a combined $8.77 million in sports bets, according to Arkansas Racing Commission figures released Friday. This compares to a handle of $7.79 million in December.

Once winning bettors were paid, the three casinos netted $1.18 million in sports-betting revenue, compared to just $47,599 one month earlier.

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