Sports Betting Expert
More and more states in the South are adding legal sports betting to their gaming options. Louisiana should be the next state to go live in the coming weeks. Most of the states in the South will offer both retail and online sports betting through mobile apps.
One exception is Arkansas. The current law allows retail sports betting in the state’s three land-based casinos. It does not contain any provisions for mobile betting at this time.
The Arkansas Racing Commission regulates gaming in the state. It would have to change the current rules to allow the use of smartphones and tablets to place sports bets outside of casino grounds.
A lobbyist group has taken up the cause in conjunction with FanDuel, DraftKings and MGM Resorts. This group has already petitioned the commission for a change in the current rules. The US-based operators would partner with the casinos to enter the state with their mobile sportsbook apps.
The good news is that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has already shown support for the change. At a recent event, he stated that “if they adopt the appropriate rules, I would be supportive of it.”
Arkansas’s list of casinos include Southland in West Memphis, Oaklawn in Hot Springs and Saracen in Pine Bluff. A fourth casino project in Russellville is on hold due to legal issues.
Right now, the only form of legal sports betting takes place at retail sportsbooks and betting kiosks in the casinos.
Governor Hutchinson understands that his state is at a competitive disadvantage with the current system. In states that allow both retail and online sports betting, the majority of the wagers are placed through mobile sportsbook apps.
Proof in point is: Tennessee. This neighboring state went live last November with mobile betting only. As a result, the sports betting handle at Southland Casino Racing was severely impacted. Losses were calculated to be in the millions.
The Southland venue sits across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee. Before legal sports betting in the Volunteer State went live, this was Southland’s biggest market for its retail sportsbook.
Highlighting the impact of mobile sports betting in the legal US market, Tennessee’s betting handle in July was $144.5 million. This represented the nine-highest state in betting volume for that month.
Once Louisiana goes live with legal retail and mobile sports betting, the impact on Arkansas will only become more prevalent.
Mississippi is another state in the South with retail sports betting only. There are 26 commercial casinos in that state. Industry insiders believe the issue of legal mobile sports betting will also become a hot topic heading into 2022.
Written by our US Sports Betting Industry Expert, Dave Schwab. You can read about our author's expertise here.