Lawmakers in Arkansas are to run the rule over a new bill that would legalise online and mobile sports wagering in the US state.
Introduced by Senator Will Bond, Senate Bill 669 sets out plans for the Arkansas Racing Commission to award up to four sports betting licences to venues across the state, with a limit of one licence per county.
Licences will only be awarded to venues located in a county with a population of more than 25,000 people, while the facility must be based at least 75 miles away from the closest casino These licences would cost $1,000 (£758/€890), half of which would be refunded to the applicant should their bid be successful.
Venues that secure a licence may also be permitted to partner with an out-of-state vendor in order to offer sports wagering services to consumers in Arkansas. Third-party interactive wagering platforms would be required to pay an annual operation fee of $10,000.
Also known as the Athletic Event Wagering Act of 2019, the bill also sets out how operators that secure a licence would face a tax rate of 12.5% of gross in-person sports betting revenue and 13.5% on mobile betting revenue.
In addition, the bill includes measures for a so-called ‘integrity fee’ to be paid to sports leagues. Licence holders would pay at a rate of 1% of the amount wagered on the professional or amateur athletic association’s events.
Sports betting would be limited to consumers aged at least 18, but players would not need to register in person in order to access mobile or online services.
Wagering would be permitted on a wide range of sporting contests, but the bill set outs that betting would not be allowed on WWE wrestling events, Special Olympics events or competitions sanctioned by the American Kennel Club.
The bill has been put forward as Arkansas' newly-legal casino market launched this week, following approval from voters in November’s mid-term election. Southland Park Gaming and Racing became the first venue to receive a casino licence, and made table games available to the public on April 2.
Four casinos are permitted to operate under rules set out by the Arkansas Racing Commission, which were approved by the state Joint Budget Committee's Administrative Rule & Regulation Review Subcommittee in February. The legislation currently permits in-person sports betting only.
Image: Jo Naylor