The uncertain future of Arkansas sports betting is set to receive some clarity during a state-sponsored meeting this Wednesday.
The Arkansas Joint Budget Committee Administrative Rule Review Subcommittee is going to be listening to the AR Racing Commission’s proposal to legalize online gambling within the state’s borders. In-person gambling in Arkansas has been legal since November 2018, and moving online is the obvious next step.
“Our task is just to review the rules as they’re presented to us,” said state Representative Lee Johnson, a co-chairman on the committee. “The only reason not to review would be if we thought it violated some state law or federal law.”
Arkansas Sports Betting Arriving Before March Madness?
This week’s meeting and potential legalization coincide with the impending arrival of March Madness, the largest draw in college sports.
16.9 million people tuned in to last year’s championship game, an 86-70 victory for the Baylor Bears over the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
“Arkansans, with a download of an app and proving that you’re 21 years old and within the state of Arkansas, then you can bet March Madness,” said Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the state Department of Finance and Administration. “So I think [betting on March Madness online] really is a real possibility.”
21 states offer online gambling to varying degrees; Arkansas becoming the 22nd would be a massive victory for the state and entire market. New York sports betting has shown a drastic increase in revenue from online betting, and Arkansas could do with an influx in entertainment, profile, and tax revenue (find out more about New York latest news).
No state with legal gambling operations from early 2019 to mid-2021 accepted less money than Arkansas. Wednesday’s meeting is a response to this lull in the sector and could save Arkansas sports betting.
Representative Johnson proposed the Bill to the State’s House back in April 2021 on behalf of multiple authors.
“The state would benefit substantially from authorizing online sports pools, to be conducted solely by casino licensees within the state and online sports pool operators with whom the casino licensees have a contractual agreement,” the authors wrote.
Now that the proposal is in the final stages of its pre-law life, it is important to understand its intricacies.
Hangups and Delays
Clarity in the wording of the bill caused an earlier January meeting to end with no progress towards legalization. The eventual result was that the term “revenue” became “receipts.”
The delay resulted in the permanence of in-person gambling, but this week’s congregation could finally open the doors to the online world. There should be optimism that the bill becomes law, given that the council sorted out its problems.
Arkansas sports betting missed out from online betting during the Super Bowl but could be operational for March Madness. The latest edition of ESPN’s bracketology has the local Arkansas Razorbacks as a six seed.
The NBA Finals are also soon to come as teams line up to compete on the sport’s grandest stage.
The power of online betting has been brewing and could revitalize the entirety of Arkansas’ market. News of Wednesday’s meeting will be soon to come.