Oaklawn Set To Launch Arkansas' Third Mobile App

There will soon be a third app for sports betting in Arkansas. Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs is expected to launch an app within weeks, according to Arkansas Racing Commission spokesman Scott Hardin.

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The Little Rock-based Racing Commission regulates all legal gambling in the state, including casino games and horse and dog racing.

“Oaklawn informed us they are looking at a late August to early September launch,” Hardin told Gambling.com.

Oaklawn already operates a separate app, Oaklawn Anywhere, for bettors wanting to wager on horse races. General online sports betting is not allowed on a horse racing app.

If the Oaklawn sports betting app is available by Sept. 3, in-state bettors will be able to use the app in wagering on the Arkansas Razorbacks’ season opener at home on that date against the Cincinnati Bearcats. 

At Caesars Sportsbook, Arkansas is favored by 6.5 points. In the Associated Press preseason poll, Arkansas is No. 19 and Cincinnati is No. 23.

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Oaklawn is Famous Racetrack in Former Mob Town

Oaklawn is home to a historic horse track that serves as the annual setting for the Arkansas Derby. This event, next scheduled for April 1, 2023, is an important prelude to the Triple Crown races that begin each year in early May with the Kentucky Derby. 

Among the prominent Arkansas Derby winners is 2015 first-place finisher American Pharoah, a dominant thoroughbred that went on that season to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. 

For decades, casinos operated illegally but openly in Hot Springs until authorities shut them down in the 1960s. The nation’s most notorious gangsters, including Al Capone, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and Frank Costello, vacationed in Hot Springs. 

Mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano was arrested in Hot Springs in the 1930s and transported to New York, where he was convicted of overseeing a prostitution racket. Another New York mobster, Owney Madden, moved to Hot Springs during the 1930s and married the local postmaster’s daughter.

Currently, the only legal casino gambling in Hot Springs occurs at Oaklawn, which has Las Vegas-style table games and a sportsbook with ticket windows and self-service betting kiosks.

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Southland, Saracen Offer Apps

When its sports betting app is launched, Oaklawn will join the other two Arkansas casinos, Southland Casino Hotel and Saracen Casino Resort, with mobile betting platforms.

Southland, a casino and dog track in West Memphis, made its Betly Sportsbook computer platform and smartphone app available soon after mobile sports wagering was legalized statewide in March. The Delaware North-owned resort, which recently opened a 300-room hotel on the property, plans to eliminate dog racing by the end of 2022. 

In May, Saracen, located in Pine Bluff just south of Little Rock, launched its BetSaracen computer platform and smartphone app.

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No National Bookmakers To Date

National online bookmakers such as DraftKings and FanDuel do not operate sports betting apps in the state, though Arkansas casinos are granted two sports betting skins and could partner with outside operators.

However, if national bookmakers partnered with an Arkansas casino to offer a mobile app, these out-of-state operators would be required to share 51% of profits with the Arkansas resort. National online bookmakers typically share 5-15%. Arkansas is the only state with a 51% profit-sharing arrangement.   

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