Arkansas to vote on betting expansion

Arkansas flag

A fresh plan to expand the sports betting and casino gaming industry in Arkansas is set to be decided on by the state’s voters during November’s general elections.

The proposal provides for the granting of a permit for a land-based casino at the racetrack in Oaklawn, and the establishment of new gambling venues based in Jefferson and Pope counties. The measure would also expand the state’s definition of casino gambling to include bets on sports events, paving the way for an expansion of sports betting in the state. 

At present, the gambling venues in Oaklawn and West Memphis provide only slots and electronic table games, but the proposed measures would enable them to increase their range of products by including sports betting, card, table and dice games. 

Driving Arkansas Forward

The plans have been proposed by an advocacy group named Driving Arkansas Forward. The group, which is supported by the Quapaw and Cherokee tribes of Oklahoma, secured a total of 99,988 signatures for their measure, which easily passed the 85,000-vote threshold required by Arkansas law before a plan can be put on a state-wide ballot.

If the measure is passed, it will set the licence fee for each gambling venue at a maximum of $250,000 for each venue, and the Arkansas Racing Commission will be given the responsibility for the regulation of casino and sports betting facilities.

In terms of taxation, the measure proposes a sliding scale, with a 13% rate on net gaming revenue up to $150 million and a 20% rate for revenue above that figure. The tax revenue would be shared between the Arkansas General Revenue Fund, the Arkansas Racing Commission, the local county and the city or town that hosts the facility. 

If the proposal is approved this November, it must be brought into effect not later than June 1 next year, but there is a potential barrier to the expansion of gambling in the state, as many prominent politicians, including governor Asa Hutchinson, oppose the measure.

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