Arkansas Sports Betting Regulators Add 17 New Gambling Markets

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 29, 2023 12:00 AM
Arkansas sports betting has added new gambling markets.

More options are officially coming to sports betting in Arkansas. Loads of options, in fact.

Regulators in The Land of Opportunity recently announced the expansion of their gambling market. This shift represents the biggest piece of Arkansas sports betting news since the state rolled out legal wagering on events back in 2018.

The news will also leave residents with plenty of more gambling options at their disposal. As you can perhaps tell from the lead photo, cornhole is among the activities that will now be available to Arkansas sports bettors. And it's just one of many—a whopping 17, to be exact.

Which other events are being tacked on to the state's legal sports betting market? What might this do for the sports betting revenue in Arkansas? And why are regulators making this change now, roughly a half-decade into the state's sports gambling era? You can find out all the juiciest details below.

Regulators May Not be Done Adding to Arkansas Sports Betting Markets

A total of 17 extra events will now appear on the state's betting docket. They range from common to totally obscure. These sports include bare-knuckle fighting, beach volleyball, bowling, cornhole, disc golf, field hockey, floorball, futsal, lacrosse, lawn bowling, NHRA drag racing, pool, snooker, table tennis, volleyball, water polo and world sailing.

We know what you're thinking: It's surprising that many of these sports—such as volleyball and bowling—weren't already among the state's wagering options. Well, they've cracked the field of eligibility now. What's more, Arkansas apparently isn't done. They intend to continue growing their gambling market.

As Jill R. Dorson of Sports Handle explained, the aforementioned activities are merely among the easiest events for Arkansas' sports betting docket to offer, and we should brace for more additions in the near future:

"According to a spokesperson from BetSaracen, there will be more new additions in the future. During last week’s meeting, the regulator approved those sports that didn’t raise many questions, and it is researching more sports that may be added.The Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) considered 56 additions to the bet menu, including slap fighting, which was first legalized in Wyoming but did not get approved last week in Arkansas."

It isn't immediately clear how long it'll be before the state's list of sports betting options again. But Arkansas has informed licensed sportsbooks of their plan, and it sounds as if they will aim to move quickly. Speaking of which...

Are Arkansas Sportsbooks Already Carrying All of the New Betting Options?

Many of the newly approved sports betting events have already been added to licensed sportsbooks in Arkansas. But operators are still holding off on some until they have a better idea on how much demand there will be for them. A handful of the lesser established odds providers must also familiarize themselves with how betting on some of these sports actually works.

Of course, people in Arkansas shouldn't expect to wait long if they don't see a sport like disc golf on their favorite betting site's drop-down menu. State regulators have made it clear to their gambling operators that they wish to keep pace with all the other best online sports betting sites in the United States. That doesn't just mean they'll swiftly add the approved events to their wagering field. It also means they will look to streamline the process for the addition of sports not yet on their freshly expanded list.

Neal Atkinson of Bet Saracen, an online sportsbook operating in Arkansas, recently spoke with Sports Handle about the state's more ambitious operating goals. "With the expansion of gambling across the states and Arkansas being a unique jurisdiction, we may not add all of these [to our menu], but if we do see interest, we want to be ready,” he explained. “There is more and more cable news coverage of these emerging sports, and we want to have these emerging sports available [for wagering]. The idea is to get as much approved as possible, so if the consumer does decide it’s what they want, we can get it up quickly."

This new all-about-the-consumer model will allow sports betting operators to request specific event additions. It will also create an across-the-board market of offerings. Previously, each individual betting operator had their own list of sports gambling options approved by Arkansas. From now on, the state will have one master collection of events from which each sportsbook can pick and choose based on the demand and wagering trends of their clientele.

Setting up this system should invariably result in more flexibility for Arkansas sports betting operators. Now, whenever a specific event or sport is added to the pool of gambling options, every single sportsbook will have access to it from the moment it drops. That wasn't the case before. Access was more restricted, and it could take longer for a new event to actually appear on website betting menus.

Why is Arkansas Sports Betting Expanding Now?

The timing behind this move in Arkansas is mostly driven by finances. Sports betting has proved to be a viable source of revenue for the state since it rolled out roughly one half-decade ago. Its popularity continues to grow, too. Though states that have offered sports betting for years see more ebbs and flows to their month handle, Arkansas set another record for the total amount of money bet on sports inside its lines this past March. (They have, in part, the success of the college basketball program at the University of Arkansas during March Madness to thank for that uptick.)

In the aggregate, though, Arkansas is merely trying to keep pace with the rest of the country. Sports betting is now legal in more than half of the United States. And most places offered more expansive gambling dockets.

Specifically, it seems some of the recent entrants influenced Arkansas more than anything else. For instance, when sports betting in Ohio went live earlier this year, they made it a point to offer as many events as possible—including some of the most obscure sports and tournaments. Casting such a wide net is believed to make gambling on sports a more inclusive and, therefore, profitable process. And Arkansas, like many other states, is certainly interested in reaching a larger sports betting audience.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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