Mobile betting takes off in Arkansas | Arkansas Business News

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Mobile sports betting is still in its infancy in Arkansas, but early returns show that the appetite is there for betting on the go.

Joint Budget Committee of the Arkansas Legislature Certified mobile sports betting Through one of three casinos located in the state in February 2022. The Arkansas Race Commission recommended expansion in December 2021; On-site sports betting in Arkansas casino approved by voters in 2018.

Southland Casino in West Memphis has launched its mobile betting app, quietly, in March. Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff has launched its platform, Saracen housein May, followed by Oaklawn Racing Casino’s Resort Oaklon Sports launch in September.

Mobile sports betting allows betting on college and professional sports from a mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer from anywhere in the state. Previously, a player had to be physically inside one of the state’s casinos to bet.

Saracen saw the most success in mobile devices, handling more than $52 million in bets between May and November, according to the state’s Department of Finance and Administration. That’s $42 million more than the site’s sports betting handle from January to November.

Southland, which had the state’s first mobile betting app, handled $39 million between March and November, $13 million more than the site’s handle for the year. Oaklon’s portable sports handle was $5 million for three months of operations; It handled $20 million on site through November.

“We are very pleased with the performance of Betly’s online and mobile sports offering,” Southland President and General Manager Osi Imomoh said in an email to Arkansas Business. “After about nine months under our belt, we’re seeing positive growth — growth that’s sustainable and doesn’t bloat the market with groundbreaking promotions and rewards often that come with out-of-state national brands.”

Arkansas model

Arkansas’ mobile sports betting model is unique in that it requires 51% of net revenue to be allocated to the casino. National sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings argued against the rule before the Arkansas Legislature adopted it in February.

“The first thing you have to realize is that Arkansas has gone its own way in terms of mobile regulation,” said Carlton Sava, Saracen’s chief market officer. The Arkansas model would prove to be the right one. Arkansas and the Racing Commission rightly held that casinos should be in the driver’s seat of sports betting.”

Typical agreements between casinos and sportswriters in other states, Safa said, have the sportswriter keep up to 90% of the revenue. This makes the casino a silent minority partner, Safa said.

“If something has your name on it but you only get 5% to 15% of what it produces, it’s hard to believe it’s really your name,” Safa said. “Arkansas did the smart thing.”

By keeping more money locally, Safa said, the Arkansas model will create more jobs and more tax revenue for the state. Safa said there are three policy reasons for gambling: jobs, taxes, and keeping revenue local.

“If you had created an environment in which sports betting was outsourced to a third party, very few jobs would be created,” Safa said. “If you donate so much in promotions that the business is not sustainable, it won’t be taxed.”

Promising future

Although the early numbers are promising, casino officials should be more excited about where the numbers can go once mobile sports betting gains a foothold.

Mobile sports betting is active in 23 states and the District of Columbia with three more states starting soon. The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans bet more than $63 billion on sports on unregulated sites, compared to $100 billion on legal sites, so there is a lot of gambling in the country.

“We believe there is room for growth as mobile sports betting has only been offered for four to six months in Arkansas,” said Wayne Smith, general manager of Oaklawn. “As we found with our Oaklawn Anywhere horse racing app, it will take two to four years for the state to reach its peak.”

All three Arkansas casinos—a fourth will eventually open in Pope County—have expanded or announced plans to expand their gaming facilities and hotels. The beauty of mobile sports betting is that players can access the betting floor from the comfort of their own home.

“We designed all of our products for our customers in the Southland and continue to evolve their gaming experience with Betly online, as well as on-property by expanding the casino and adding a hotel and other amenities — all of which drive increased revenue to Arkansas,” Emama said.

The Saracen Casino advantage Saracen has is its proximity to Little Rock, said Saffa. Its gambling app does not have this feature.

“Location, location, location still applies with the games,” he said. “Keep that out the window with the sportsbook because our app is as close to everyone in Arkansas as the others. [Northwest Arkansas] It is a huge and important market for us. We have big players in southwest Arkansas, and we have a big presence in the Jonesboro market. It doesn’t matter where the players are. It doesn’t matter where we are.”

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