A spokesman for the Department of Finance and Administration revealed that the three operating casinos in Arkansas will not be able to accept wagers on sports events for the Super Bowl on February 13th, after the decision of the state’s Racing Commission attorney not to include the proposed measures from the agenda of the legislative panel.
Byron Freeland, the attorney of the local gambling regulator decided to withdraw the proposed gambling expansion rules from the Commission’s agenda after the watchdog changed one word during a short legislative meeting a couple of days ago. Currently, Arkansas Racing Commission operates under the finance department.
As revealed by the Department’s spokesman Scott Hardin, the word “revenue” was altered to “receipts”. However, online sports betting operators have been concerned about another matter.
On December 30th, 2021, Arkansas Racing Commission unanimously approved the proposed rules under which the licensed casinos across the state would be able to offer mobile sports betting services. Under the measure, they would receive 51% of the proceeds when in collaboration with online sports betting companies, with the share being significantly bigger than a similar one available in other states, which is usually between 5% and 15%.
A lobbyist representing a group of online sportsbook operators has addressed the commission at the time, asking it to amend the proposed rules in order to provide the sports betting companies and the casinos with the chance to negotiate the ratio split with each other. The lobbyist further noted that if such a step is taken, casino operators will be given complete control to decide whether to accept or reject the offer. However, Arkansas Racing Commission chose not to adopt the proposed change.
Mobile Sports Betting Would Not Be Available in Arkansas for the February 13th Super Bowl
The proposed rules had been expected to be brought to the Administrative Rules Subcommittee of the Legislative Council for further consideration before Mr. Freeland took them down from the agenda.
If the proposed rules had been given the green light by the legislative Council, that would have paved the way for local casinos to start accepting mobile wagers on sports events on time for the Super Bowl on February 13th.
The spokesman of the Finance Department shared that the decision of Mr. Freeland to pull the proposed rules will provide the authorities to adequately consider the issues raised by Arkansas lawmakers and other interest parties. As Hardin explained, a change to the wording, no matter how small it is, only one day before the legislative review would bring further issues. By postponing the rules until February or March, he believes that full transparency will be guaranteed.
Earlier this week, Governor Asa Hutchinson confirmed there had been some concerns associated with the late change in the language of the mobile sports betting rules. Although the change was not a significant one, she believes that the competent authorities should consider the rules in regular order at the next legislative meeting in order to guarantee fairness and transparency.