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Mobile sports betting to start in Arkansas; rule will take effect 10 days after approval given Tuesday

by Michael R. Wickline | February 22, 2022 at 10:22 a.m.
A mobile sports betting app for football games is displayed at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Las Vegas in this Sept. 5, 2019, file photo. (AP/John Locher)

The Legislature's Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday morning signed off on the Arkansas Racing Commission's proposed rule that will allow the state's casinos to accept mobile sports bets from gamblers inside Arkansas.

The budget committee approved the racing commission's proposed rule without any debate.

With a few dissenters, the Legislative Council's Administrative Rule Review Subcommittee endorsed the proposed rule last Thursday.

The proposed rule will become effective 10 days after the committee’s approval and the state’s casinos would have the opportunity to launch apps by the end of the first week of March, Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said Thursday.

“March Madness, which has been raised several times in the review discussion, formally begins March 13 [when the teams selected are announced],” Hardin said Thursday in a written statement.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament starts with the first games on March 15-16 in Dayton, Ohio, according to the NCAA website.

Three casinos operate in Arkansas: Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff; Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis; and Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs. In November, a divided Racing Commission voted to award a license that would allow a new gambling facility, Legends Resort and Casino in Pope County.

"We will launch BetSaracen, a first class Arkansas born and bred mobile wagering app before March Madness," said Carlton Saffa, chief market officers for the Saracen Casino Resort.

"It won't be legal until March 4th, so that's the earliest possible," he said.

The state's two other operating casinos haven't yet signaled when they expect to begin accepting mobile sports bets from inside Arkansas.


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