Feb 10, 2023 - Business

Arkansas sports betting expected to supersize this weekend

Sports betting laws, by state
Data: American Gaming Association; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

Pine Bluff's Saracen Casino Resort expects Super Bowl wagers to be up 12-15% from last year, thanks to the addition of mobile sports betting, its executives told Axios.

Why it matters: More than $198 million in wagers were placed on sporting events in Arkansas in 2022, with the state's three casinos paying more than $3 million in taxes.

  • Nationwide, 50.4 million adults are expected to bet $16 billion on the big game, per the American Gaming Association — roughly double last year's record tally.

Driving the news: For the first time, the Super Bowl is in a state where sports betting is legal — and at a stadium with its own sportsbook, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

  • The game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, represents America's — and the NFL's — evolved stance on gambling.

Zoom in: In-person sports betting was legalized in November 2018, but betting by app in Arkansas went into effect in March 2022.

  • This weekend will be the first time a person in NWA can place a bet on the Super Bowl without physically being in Hot Springs, Pine Bluff or West Memphis.
Data: Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration; Chart: Axios Visuals

What they're saying: Bet Saracen operations manager Jake Bush, chief marketing officer Carlton Saffa and sportsbook director Neal Atkinson told us they're looking forward to an exciting weekend. Because decision-making happens in Pine Bluff, the casino will be able to offer about 100 "proposition" bets — a wager on an occurrence or nonoccurrence during the game, like the outcome of the coin toss.

  • These types of bets, especially ones made as the game evolves, drive excitement and increased betting.

The intrigue: The three Saracen officers said they can handle just about anything through the casino's app. One fan recently placed a mobile two-game parlay of $100,000 on the NFL playoffs.

  • "She won," Bush said.

By the numbers: Arkansas casinos pay 13% in taxes on all sports betting revenue up to $150 million during the year. The rate moves to 20% of all revenue above $150 million.

  • 55% of the taxes collected go to the state's general revenue fund.
  • 27.5% goes to the city and county in which the casino is located.
  • 17.5% goes to the Arkansas Racing Commission for deposit into its Purse and Awards Fund.

Of note: Oaklawn and Southland did not respond to Axios' requests for information.

What we're watching: November is the biggest month for sports betting, Bush told Axios, but March, with its college basketball frenzy, is the second largest.

Go deeper: Sports betting: The big picture

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