Arkansas Mobile Sports Betting Bill Dies

  • AR SB 669 would have legalized online and mobile sports betting.
  • The bill had provisions completely unrelated to mobile sports wagering.
  • Arkansas legalized retail sportsbooks back in November of 2018.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A sports betting bill that would have authorized online and mobile wagering in Arkansas has lie sine die in the Senate, meaning it will never be discussed again.

Heavy Taxes And Fees

AR SB 669 was introduced on April 1 and it had a number of different provisions. The biggest reasons why this bill ultimately died was the topic of integrity fees and taxation.

Integrity fees were designed by the league to help ensure that sportsbooks would not rig number or influence the outcomes of games. What it actually does is give sports leagues like the NCAA or NFL royalty fee. Every single state that has legalized sports betting has refused to give in to the pressure and add an integrity fee. The fees would seriously undercut the potential profits for sportsbooks.

Arkansas lawmakers saw it differently. They decided that this mobile sports betting bill needed to include an integrity fee for the leagues. Although the fee is one percent of all sports betting revenue in the state, that would be around 20 or so percent of a single sportsbook’s profits. This would have been on top of the 12.5 percent tax on retail sportsbooks and the 13.5 percent tax on mobile wagering.

On top of that, the leagues would have had the power to shut down bets on certain events. The NFL could have had the power to prevent any bets being placed on the Super Bowl in Arkansas. This would have also resulted in major losses for sportsbooks.

Provisions Not Normally Seen

Some of the provisions that it included were it would ban bets on a number of events. It would have banned bets on the Special Olympics, the American Kennel Club dog shows, and WWE events.

None of these events were restricted when sports betting in Arkansas was originally legalized back in November. This was likely not needed because sportsbooks do not normally carry action on these events and it creating more restrictions would have not been financially good for potential sportsbooks.

AR SB 669 fell way off track from what it was originally supposed to do. The title of the bill states that the bill was supposed to allow electronic wagering on athletic events. The provisions provided on the bill would have squeezed every single penny out of sportsbooks, even with mobile wagering. For now, Arkansas will only have retail sportsbooks once they eventually open for business.

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