$5 on the Dallas Cowboys
On July 1, the first sports bets were placed in Arkansas, making it the eighth state to have legal sports betting and open sportsbooks since the ending of the federal ban in May 2018.
The very first wager was made on the morning of July 1 in the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, by the facility’s general manager, Wayne Smith.
This first bet was for $5 on the Dallas Cowboys to overcome the New York Giants in the NFL game, which takes place in Dallas on September 8.
As well as having tellers to accept sports bets, the casino also offers self-service kiosks for bettors. The tellers are open from 10am until 10pm, while the kiosks are open as long as the casino is open. The casino has 12 kiosks – six in the sportsbook area, four in the bar area, one in the high roller area and one close to the entrance.
Smith said: “We’re excited to now be offering sports wagering. It’s a new level of entertainment for our guests.”
SBTech is the operator looking after the Oaklawn sportsbook. Oaklawn also began offering casino gaming in April – it has six blackjack tables and a couple of craps tables. The racino is curently being remodeled and expanded, at a cost of around $100m. The expansion will add 28,000 sq. ft of gaming space.
Road to legal sports betting
Voters approved a constitutional amendment in November 2018, by 54.1%, to allow casinos in four of the state’s counties. The amendment also permits these facilities to offer legal sports betting.
There will be a tax rate of 13% on sports betting and casino revenues for the initial $150m of net casino receipts, rising to 20% for all amounts greater than $150m. The state is hoping to make as much as $66m each year from gaming tax revenue.
There was no inclusion for online sports betting in the constitutional amendment vote in November 2018, despite a number of bills in the legislature pushing for its introduction. However, none of them had much traction and it will not be happening in the foreseeable future.
The Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort was the first casino to be approved by the Arkansas Racing Commission to open a sportsbook on July 1.
New casino facilities are set to be developed in Jefferson and Pope Counties. Both of these will offer sports betting.
Delay at Southland
The existing Southland Gaming and Racing facility in West Memphis will also offer sports betting. Despite its announcement that sports betting would be arriving soon, the racino has yet to send concrete plans to the Racing Commission.
The delay is down to a dispute between Southlands’ owner, Delaware North, and sports betting operator Miomni. The dispute has forced Delaware North to temporarily close its sportsbooks at its two casinos in West Virginia until the issue is resolved.
A Delaware North spokesperson said: “At this time we don’t have an opening date for the sportsbook. We are working toward beginning construction this summer on the new gaming complex and hotel, and will be adding surface parking this spring to offset the parking that will be lost from that construction.