Arkansas Sports Betting Adds 17 More Markets

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The Arkansas State Racing Commission has given the green light to 17 new sports betting markets, meaning the state’s three racing casinos can now accept wagers on a larger variety of sports.

That includes some widely known but niche sports like lacrosse, beach volleyball and snooker, but also some more unusual options like cornhole (pictured), disc golf, and bare knuckle boxing.  

The unanimous decision by the Commission late last week was in response to requests from casino representatives and Jennifer Rushin, the casino gaming tax division manager at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Related: Our expert guide to the best online sportsbooks in Arkansas

Approved in Other States

The newly approved markets will supplement the 15 sports markets already authorized by Arkansas for betting.

However, before casinos can add specific leagues within these new markets to their offerings, they will need to secure approval from Rushin.

The expansion could be seen a response to the summer slowdown experienced by sportsbooks in the off-season of many major US sports.

Carlton Saffa Chief Marketing Office for Saracen Casino Resort said that data from existing legal markets prove these sports have a viable audience.

“Everything that we’re looking at is something that has been approved in another state. In most instances, most states. In some instances, as many as 30 states,” he said.

The Commission looked at 57 different sports in total before narrowing the list to 17.

One emerging sport that didn’t make the cut was slap fighting, where two competitors take turns slapping each other in the face across a podium. Giant MMA league UFC recently launched a slap fight division to much controversy.

Diverse Range of Sports

The approved markets do still include a mix of mainstream and unusual sports.

The full list includes bare-knuckle fighting, beach volleyball, bowling, cornhole, disc golf, field hockey, floorball, futsal, lacrosse, lawn bowling, hot rod drag racing, pool, snooker, table tennis, volleyball, water polo, and world sailing.

For those unfamiliar with some of the more obscure sports, let’s look at a few.

Bare-knuckle fighting is a combat sport similar to boxing, but without gloves. Floorball is akin to indoor hockey without all the gear, and futsal is a soccer-based game played on an indoor hard court.

Snooker is a globally popular game, originating in the UK, that might not be familiar to many in the US. It is similar to billiards, but played on a larger table with 22 balls that have to be potted in a colored order.

The modern game of lawn bowling, or bowls, is another British invention on the list. Americans will be well familiar with ten pin bowling (also on the list for Arkansas bettors now), but probably less likely to know about bowls.

The more genteel cousin of bowling, it sees players roll balls along a grass lawn to get as close to a target ball as possible.

Ready for Interest

Although operators may not be particularly rushing to offer bets on disc golf, for example, the expansion in Arkansas will allow the state’s retail and digital books the opportunity to request to add the markets if they do.

Some of the more obviously popular new sports are already being offered. For example, BetSaracen has already added table tennis to its sports betting market selection.

“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,” said Neal Atkinson, Bet Saracen’s senior director of tables and sportsbook operations.

Saffa echoed a similar sentiment on the importance of being ready for demand.

“We don’t want to be in a position where a consumer says, ‘Why can’t I bet on something,’ and we say, ‘Well, Arkansas doesn’t allow it,” he told The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

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