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Had Arkansas sports betting HB 1942 passed through the legislature, mobile sports betting would have joined Arkansas’s retail sports betting operations. This would have allowed residents to put money down on their favorite sporting events with greater freedom and flexibility than before.

Online sports betting is growing nationwide, but it isn’t coming to Arkansas anytime soon. 

2022 is the next opportunity for mobile sports betting legalization in this state. Let’s break down exactly what happened with Arkansas’s failed sports betting legislation and explore the available land-based sportsbooks you can check out right now.

Arkansas Sports Betting Timeline

  • April 30, 2021:

    The Arkansas legislature’s 2021 session ends without passing the Arkansas mobile sports betting bill.

  • April 21, 2021:

    The Arkansas House of Representatives passes over HB 1942 and does not discuss or vote on it.

  • April 19, 2021:

    Rep. Lee Johnson introduces HB 1942 to the House of Representatives.

  • January 15, 2021:

    Senator Will Bond proposes SB 669. This sports betting bill would’ve permitted electronic wagering on any athletic events, such as online sports betting. Though it was referred to a special Senate committee, it did not progress to a vote.

Top Sports Betting Apps Coming To Arkansas

While we don’t know for sure which mobile sportsbook operators will eventually reach Arkansas, we can make a few educated guesses given Arkansas’s proximity to other states like Colorado, which have booming mobile sports betting industries.

Keep in mind that the below list of possible sportsbooks could change significantly between now and the next time sports wagering legislation is discussed, such as 2022 or 2023.

  • DraftKings seems a likely contender for legal mobile sports betting in this state. After all, the operator already provides daily fantasy sports to Arkansas residents and operates in nearby Colorado. DraftKings is renowned for having one of the best mobile betting platforms in the industry, with player-friendly betting odds, an excellent opening promo, and live or in-play betting.
  • FanDuel is another likely possibility given its proximity to Arkansas (as it is currently operating in Colorado) and the fact that it offers DFS to Arkansas residents just like DraftKings. Like its chief competitor, FanDuel has an intuitive mobile app and excellent betting odds spread across a variety of popular betting markets.
  • Caesars Sportsbook launched in a few US states, but then acquired William Hill, who was on a massive expansion across the US during 2021. It is likely we could see Caesars Sportsbook in Arkansas as part of their continued expansion.
  • BetMGM is a growing sportsbook that may rival the top two giants mentioned above. Because of this, it may seek to expand its market presence in the middle of the US by launching in Arkansas. It has an excellent opening bonus, live and in-play betting, and a user-friendly mobile app.
  • BetRivers could try to launch in Arkansas once legalization is achieved. This mobile app is popular and has great market depth and variety. It’s also active in many states like Colorado.

How To Place A Bet In Arkansas

No matter which specific mobile sportsbook operators end up reaching Arkansas, you can rest assured that the wagering process will be pretty similar in this state to the process you have to follow in other states with legal industries.

Let’s break down how you’ll be able to place a bet in Arkansas using a mobile sportsbook app once a bill finally passes the state legislature.

Download A Sportsbook App

You’ll first need to download the sportsbook app of your choice to your mobile device. Depending on the device you have, the process may be slightly different:

  • iPhone users should be able to simply type the name of their chosen app into the Apple App Store search bar. Then download the app and allow it to install automatically to your device, as well as install geolocation software.
  • Android users will first need to see if the sportsbook they desire is included on the Google Play store. Only some sportsbooks are available on this platform at this time, though all popular app choices could be available on the Google Play store by the time Arkansas finally legalizes mobile sports wagering.
  • If the app you want isn’t available on the Play Store, visit the app’s desktop site and download it to your Android phone or tablet from there.

As mentioned, installation should start automatically without any prompting on your part. Then you can open the app and move to the next step of the process.

Register For The App

You’ll next need to register for the app by opening it on your phone and providing some key pieces of personal information. These will likely include your date of birth, personal address, and Social Security number. All this information will be quickly verified by the sportsbook app’s staff.

Fortunately, HB 1942 proposed online-only registration for Arkansas residents. Any future sports wagering legislation will likely include the same provision. So you don’t need to worry about having to register in person at a partnered casino to complete the process.

Fund Your Account

Once you’ve registered for your sportsbook of choice, you’ll be able to fund your account and start placing bets using a variety of deposit methods. Different sportsbooks offer different deposit methods, but these are the most popular:

  • Debit and credit card transfers
  • e-Check transfers
  • Electronic wallet transfers from PayPal and/or Skrill
  • Direct bank transfers

You should keep your initial deposit amount in mind before you make a final decision. Some sportsbook platforms, like DraftKings, offer a deposit match bonus that awards you with extra site credit. However, the amount of site credit you get is dependent on the initial deposit you make.

For instance, DraftKing’s bonus kicks in with a 20% rate for up to $1000 of site credit. So if you were to deposit $500, you would get $100 of site credit for free.

Regardless, once you fund your account, you’ll be able to finally start placing wagers. 

Place A Bet

All you’ll have to do at this point is navigate through your sportsbook and find a betting line that looks attractive. Place a wager and cross your fingers!

Arkansas Legal Sportsbooks

Mobile sports betting isn’t coming to Arkansas for at least another year and a half at best. But that doesn’t mean you should look into illegal or offshore betting sites or apps.

Illegal betting sites have several significant drawbacks that make them risky propositions. For example, they usually have poor digital security that can compromise your personal information or any money you give to the sportsbook platform in question. Should your money or personal information be lost, you won’t have any legal recourse or authoritative body to turn to when seeking a resolution.

Furthermore, illegal sportsbook sites and apps don’t use official league data to formulate their betting lines. As a result, your betting opportunities will likely be subpar and your profits won’t be as high as they would be with a legal sports betting platform.

All in all, it’s a good idea to wait for legal mobile sports wagering even though it may be some time yet. In the meantime, you can check out the retail sportsbook operations already active at Arkansas’s casinos.

At the moment, sports bettors can check out retail sportsbooks at three out of four authorized brick-and-mortar casinos in Arkansas:

  • Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, which opened in April 2019
  • Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, which also opened in April 2019
  • Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, which opened in October 2020

There’s a fourth casino that has not yet been fully constructed: River Valley Casino, due to open in Russellville later in 2021.

Each of the operating casinos has a retail sportsbook up and running at the time of this writing. Sports betting revenue is taxed at 13%. It should be noted that none of the retail sportsbooks are run by major mobile operators. Instead, the sportsbooks are:

  • Oaklawn Race & Sportsbook
  • Saracen Casino Annex Sportsbook
  • Betly Sportsbook at Southland Casino Racing

None of these sportsbooks have operating mobile apps as mobile sports betting is not yet legal in Arkansas.

Arkansas Sports Betting Revenue

At the moment, Arkansas’s only sports betting revenue comes from its land-based operations. Still, they’ve brought in collectively over $7.7 million in sports betting revenue after two years of operation.

But there’s no denying that mobile sports wagering will bring in much more state revenue for the government through taxation than the current retail operations. Many other states that offer both online and in-person sports betting see a revenue percentage difference of 80%. Most of their tax revenue comes from mobile platforms.

Just how much money could Arkansas’s mobile sports betting industry make? We can’t say for sure, but we can look at another state, like Colorado, and make some predictions.

Official data indicates that January 2021 saw revenue of over $23 million for Colorado’s online sports betting industry. While Colorado is more populous than Arkansas, this does go to show that online sports wagering would be a big boon for the state government, especially since the government is hurting for cash in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

How Arkansas Sports Betting Compares To Other States

At the moment, Arkansas’s sports betting industry is better than those of states that don’t have any options whatsoever. But without any mobile sportsbooks to check out, Arkansas residents are severely limited, both in terms of convenient access to sports betting and in brand choices.

Simply put, this limits competitiveness in the state and is unlikely to provide sports bettors with excellent opening bonuses or other wagering opportunities. To really get the industry going, mobile sports wagering will need to be legalized in the future so that operators can freely enter the state and compete against one another.

This will benefit sports wagering enthusiasts as well, as they’ll be able to choose from the best versions of various sportsbook apps or even wager on multiple apps while “line shopping” for the best available bets.

Arkansas’s other gambling offerings are similarly middle-of-the-road. For example, the state has three retail casinos up and running, with a fourth casino expected to open by the end of 2021.

Horse racing and wagering are also legal under the pari-mutuel model, and the state has run an official lottery since 2009. However, except for horse race wagering, all gambling activities are land-based and there are no legal online options.

Fans of online casinos or poker have to turn to sweepstakes sites to get their fixes instead.

Arkansas Sports Betting Recent Updates

Arkansas has had legal retail sports wagering at three retail casinos since the middle of 2019. However, the November 2018 referendum that legalized the construction of four retail casinos did not include provisions for online sports betting. This left an obvious gap in the state’s sports betting industry that other legislators were eager to fill with a future bill.

That bill came in April 2021 when Representative Lee Johnson, a Republican, introduced HB 1942 to the Arkansas House of Representatives. The legislation included many specifics about a provisional mobile sports betting industry.

For example, the bill would have confined all sports betting to within Arkansas state lines. It also would have called for the Arkansas Racing Commission to oversee and regulate the industry. In terms of licenses, mobile sportsbooks would have had to compete for 12 “skins” that were to be divided evenly across the four brick-and-mortar casinos mentioned above.

In other words, Arkansas would have followed the “tethering” business model that most other states have adopted rather than a free-market model. Fortunately, in-person registration would not have been required under the proposal. Therefore, sports bettors could have registered for a new sportsbook app from the comfort of their couches.

Additionally, Arkansas’s HB 1942 would’ve allowed collegiate sports betting for all major sports betting platforms. This would have been a massive benefit for fans of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Unfortunately, Wednesday, April 21, 2021’s House session did not go the way sports betting fans would have liked. Rather than being heard at all, the bill was totally passed over. This was also the last hearing for the House Select Committee on Rules for the 2021 legislative session.

Thus, HB 1942 wasn’t even voted on and won’t be discussed until perhaps 2022. This was, to be fair, a very last-minute attempt to push for mobile sports wagering for the state. The legislative session overall adjourned on April 30.

With luck, HB 1942 or an amended version of the same bill will be on the 2022 agenda and will be among the first items discussed once the legislature reconvenes. For now, sports bettors will have to make do with the limited retail sportsbooks.

Arkansas Sports Betting Successes And Failures

Arkansas is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to sports betting successes and failures, with some good strides in some areas and lesser results in others.

Arkansas Sports Betting Success

It’s certainly preferable that Arkansas has a few retail sportsbook options for sports wagering enthusiasts, even if they are currently limited. Legal sports betting came pretty quickly after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, with the first casinos being legalized in 2018 and opening with retail sportsbooks in 2019.

Furthermore, there has been a consistent push for legal mobile sports betting, even if it hasn’t turned out favorable results quite yet.

Where Arkansas Could Improve Online Gambling

We’d like to see Arkansas expand its online gambling operations to include not only legal mobile sports wagering but also licensed online casinos. However, online sports betting is the most likely development to come.

Should mobile sports betting provide the state government with lots of revenue, we might see additional online gambling developments after its launch.

Legalization Effort In Arkansas

The legalization effort for mobile sports wagering first began in 2019 when SB 669 was put forward by Senator Will Bond. This provisional bill would have legalized mobile sports betting and made Arkansas among the first states to expand this gambling activity.

Unfortunately, it never made it to a vote. But many elements of this bill showed up later in HB 1942, which progressed much further and eventually made it to the state legislature to be debated.

However, HB 1942 only made it to the legislature with a couple of weeks left in the 2021 legislative session. Given that the legislature had other bills to debate, it was unlikely that HB 1942 would have been seen at all.

Indeed, this predicted outcome came true and HB 1942 effectively died before it reached the House of Representatives floor. Still, Rep. Lee Johnson is set to propose similar legislation as part of the 2022 legislative agenda.

With luck, legal mobile sports betting will be among the first items discussed in the Arkansas legislature. Should the bill pass the House and Senate, mobile sports betting could launch as early as summer or fall of 2022, provided the governor signs the bill quickly.

Arkansas Teams

The decision not to vote on HB 1942 is an unfortunate one for Arkansas sports enthusiasts. While this state doesn’t have any professional teams that compete in major sports leagues like the NFL or NBA, it does host many minor league sports teams.

Furthermore, Arkansas shares borders with states like Mississippi and Louisiana, both of which have major professional sports franchises that have their own fans across the country.

Arkansas Professional Sports Teams

Should sports betting eventually come to mobile platforms in Arkansas, you’ll be able to put money down on major NFL, NBA, MLB, and other professional sports leagues games. You’ll also be able to put money down on major teams like the New Orleans Saints, the Kansas City Chiefs, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, the Tennessee Titans, and other major franchises.

In fact, you can already put bets down on these teams and their associated games at the retail sportsbooks found at Arkansas’s brick-and-mortar casinos.

College Sports In Arkansas

College sports are where things get much more important for Arkansas sports bettors. At the moment, collegiate sports wagering is not legal at the retail sportsbooks found at the above-mentioned casinos. As a result, Arkansas residents cannot put their money down on the Arkansas Razorbacks: arguably the most popular NAAC Division I football team in the state.

In addition to the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Arkansas State Red Wolves have their own dedicated fans. Also popular are Arkansas’s Division I basketball teams, such as the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions or Centra Arkansas Bears.

However, the recently discussed legislation HB 1942 would have included provisions to allow collegiate sports betting, even on in-state teams like the Arkansas Razorbacks. While we can’t know for sure that future sports betting bills will include these same provisions, it seems likely that Arkansas’s state government is fully aware of the potential revenue it would be passing up by not legalizing collegiate bets.

Other Sports To Bet On In Arkansas

While professional and college sports are fairly popular in Arkansas, future mobile sportsbooks will also let you put money down on a variety of other niche sporting events and activities. These include activities like darts, NASCAR races, MMA fighting, and even eSports competitions.

Time will tell how the market variety develops for any future mobile sportsbooks.

Arkansas Sports Betting FAQs

Is online sports betting legal in Arkansas?

No. At the moment, only retail sports betting is permitted at a handful of licensed locations. A fourth sportsbook is set to finish construction sometime before the end of 2021.

How old do you have to be to bet online with sportsbooks in Arkansas?

If mobile sports betting ever comes to this state, you’ll need to be 21 years of age or older to put money down on sporting events.

Will it be legal to bet on college sports in Arkansas?

Most likely, yes. However, we don’t know this for certain and it’s possible that Arkansas’s state legislature may decide to opt against collegiate sports bets to protect the integrity of college players and teams

Will you need to be a resident of Arkansas to bet online?

No, but you will need to be within state lines. Arkansas’s future mobile sportsbooks will use geolocation software to make sure that you don’t put money down outside state lines.

Who will be in charge of regulating online sportsbook apps in Arkansas?

That may be the Arkansas Racing Commission, which was the go-to choice for regulation per the provisions included in HB 1942. However, the state legislature may decide to go with a different commission or regulatory body once new legislation comes around in 2022.

Is FanDuel legal in Arkansas?

FanDuel currently only provides daily fantasy sports in Arkansas but does not offer sports betting in either retail or online capacities.

About the Author

Amber Hoffman

Amber is the Managing Editor of Gaming Today. She writes for a variety of websites in diverse industries, including gaming and travel and is a fan of international football (not "soccer") and Gaelic sports.

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