Arkansas witnessed a slight increase in its sports betting activity in December with a handle of $6.4 million, up $100,000 from November.
According to figures released by officials, the net winnings from the three casinos in the Natural State were around $1.075 million, of which $136,984 went to the state in tax revenue. It was also the first time that each sportsbook of Arkansas’ three casinos brought in more than $1 million for the month. However, the lack of mobile sports betting reflects the overall market situation that remains slim compared to the other states’ swelling monthly figures, thanks to their online sportsbooks’ share.
Land-based casinos are still forced to observe strict capacity limits amid the pandemic-led social distancing measures. Inevitably, this factor, combined with the absence of online sports betting options, has contributed to the low handle and revenue generation in Arkansas. Industry analysts have expressed concern over the depressing handle, which is largely eclipsed by the numbers achieved by the neighboring states each month.
Another Reason for the Dipping Performance
Of the last three months of 2020, October recorded the highest handle of $6.56 million. This handle suggested a bullish trend for the sports betting industry in Arkansas, but November brought bad news for the state’s sports betting market when neighboring Tennessee launched its online-only sports betting market on November 1. This saw the combined numbers of November and December follow a downward trend.
Currently, there is no sports betting option in Arkansas except for its three casinos, which also have to observe state-mandated capacity limits. The Natural State also allows a very limited form of mobile betting option to be placed within one of the state’s three casino venues. However, Arkansas bettors can cross the state to place legal wagers in the Volunteer State without bothering to go to one of the three Arkansas casinos, a legal requirement according to the state law.
Tennessee sports betting, which saw $131.4 million of sports betting handle in its maiden month, should be a salutary example for Arkansas to see what it has been missing. During the pandemic, some states with digital sports betting markets even saw more than 90% of mobile share in the total monthly handles. With a population of almost half of Tennessee’s 6.8 million, Arkansas (3.1 million) could contribute fairly largely to its regulated sports betting industry if mobile betting was made available throughout the state.
Casino by Casino Figures
Southland Casino in West Memphis reported the highest handle in December, which was $3.4 million. This was $100,000 less than the venue posted in November, however, the adjusted gross revenue rose from $30,000 in December up to $590,679.
Oaklawn Casino in Hot Springs, the first sportsbook to open in the state following the legalization of the industry in 2019, saw a handle of $2 million, up $200,000 from November’s figures. Yet, revenue decreased by nearly $80,000 from $315,600 to $239,033 over the month.
The third venue, Saracen Casino in Pine Bluff, also reflected a rising handle with $1.03 million in December compared to the previous month. However, the biggest jump was in the revenue, to $244,559 in December from November’s $99,599.
The Natural State drew $76,788 from Southland Casino, $31,074 from Oaklawn, and nearly $29300 from Saracen in tax revenue.