LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Sports wagering was approved by the voters of Arkansas when Amendment 100 was voted on in November of 2018.
The first sports wager was made in July 2019 and since then $86 million has been bet in Arkansas.
Right now the only place to bet on sports in Arkansas is physically at Oaklawn, Southland, and Saracen casinos. Scott Hardin with the Department of Finance Administration says many people have said they would like to have an option to bet outside of a casino.
“So if you’re in Northwest Arkansas, Northeast Arkansas and don’t want to make the drive and want to place a sports wager that opens up an entirely new market,” Hardin said.
The Arkansas Racing Commission is considering rules to allow for mobile sports wagering.
The state normally sees a bump during football season for bets placed and the ability to do that from anywhere is a potential windfall for revenues.
“Whether the comfort of their own home or whether they’re in a deer stand, I think it’s safe to say that number is going to double at the very least,” Hardin said.
Marco Butler is not an avid gambler but he thinks being able to place bets on a phone could spice things up.
“Something new, something to get into, might be fun!” Butler exclaimed.
He also believes Arkansas could benefit from the extra revenues, as long as there are rules in place to make sure kids don’t place bets.
“More money is always good, more economics is always good. People are going to do it regardless, make it legal and say everyone can have fun as long as they doing it in safe proportions, not getting out of hand, should be fine,” Butler explained.
Jerry Cox with Family Council says Arkansas has plenty of way for people to gamble already and that making it available on phones is not a good idea.
“Everybody knows a child could pick up a cell phone and do all kinds of things adults didn’t even know they could do,” Cox explained.
Cox also said he does not feel the state does enough to assist those with gambling addictions and making gambling more accessible and easier to do is bad for families who depend on those incomes lost.
“Why would we want to create more avenues for people to harm themselves and harm their families?” Cox asked.
Hardin said at the very earliest Arkansans could be allowed to place mobile sports wagers in February, which would be just in time for the Super Bowl (Arkansans place $922,000 on the Super Bowl alone last year).
Surrounding states are in varying degrees of looking into mobile wagering:
- Louisiana – Sports betting in the process of launching. First bets placed over the last few days. Mobile betting not yet launched but expected to over the next month to two months.
- Mississippi – Sports betting is legal. However, mobile (off site) betting is not an option.
- Missouri – Sports betting is not legal. However, there are efforts to change that.
- Oklahoma – Sports betting approved but not launched.
- Tennessee – Sports betting legal, including the mobile option.
- Texas – Sports betting is not legal. Legislation was introduced although it hasn’t been considered.