Online Sports Betting Likely Coming To Arkansas

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Arkansas lawmakers are considering a new bill that would make online and mobile sports betting legal in the state.

Senator Will Bond has put forward Senate Bill 669, which would give the Arkansas Racing Commission the authority to issue up to four sports wagering licenses to venues throughout the state with a specific limit of only one license per county.

Only venues in counties with a population of at least 25,000 people would be eligible for licensing and any facility applying for a license would have to be no less than 75 miles (120 km) away from the closest casino. License applications would cost $1,000 with half of that being returned to successful applicants.

Licensed venues would be allowed to partner with out-of-state vendors to offer sports betting services within the state but third-party wagering platforms would be required to pay the state a $10,000 annual operation fee.

Called the Athletic Event Wagering Act of 2019, Senate Bill 669 lays out two separate tax rates on gross revenue for both in-person and mobile wagers. The latter would be taxed at 13.5% and the former at 12.5% The bill also includes language that establishes an “integrity fee” that is to be paid to sports leagues. Licensees would have to pay the various athletic associations 1% of the amount wagered on their events, professional or amateur.

Wagering on sports would, of course, be limited to consumers 18 or older, but players would not be required to register in person before being allowed to make use of mobile or online betting services.

Betting on most sporting events will be allowed but the bill does incorporate some restrictions. Wagering on WWE wrestling events, American Kennel Club competitions, and Special Olympics events would be prohibited.

This bill comes just days after the legal casino market in Arkansas was opened. Voters gave their approval for the legalisation of gambling within the state in last November’s mid-term elections. Southland Park Gaming and Racing became the first venue in the state to be issued a casino license and began offering table games to the public on April 2.

The Arkansas Racing Commission has set rules, approved in February by the states Joint Budget Committee’s Administrative Rule & Regulation Review Subcommittee, which allow four casinos to operate within Arkansas’ borders. Current legislation allows for sports betting, but only in person.