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Mobile sports betting could be approved in Arkansas soon

It looked as though Arkansans would be able to place sports wagers from their phones on Wednesday, but unfortunately those in the state will have to wait.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It looked as though Arkansans would be able to place sports wagers anywhere in the state by using their phones following discussions Wednesday morning.

Unfortunately that may have to wait an additional day, at the very least, after the discussion among the legislative subcommittee took a recess until Thursday morning.

"It's a complicated issue. I'm glad the members asked a lot of questions. The question today though was 'Does this comport with state and federal law?' It absolutely does," said Carlton Saffa, Chief Market Officer for Saracen Casino Resort. 

The questions were far reaching in scope, tackling topics from security and tracking, to liability and profits -- legislators spent the day discussing them with Saffa and representatives from Oaklawn and Southland.

As far as tracking goes experts like Danny DiRienzo, Senior Director for Government Relations for GeoComply, spoke on the specifics such as where the tracking takes place and what it could be used for. 

"As you can see, this is live gaming activity that is occurring in your neighboring state of Tennessee," he said referencing a map. "It's not uncommon to see a red pin dropped in your own state of Arkansas, which would be a failed geolocation transaction. Somebody from Arkansas is trying to access a Tennessee sportsbook."

That's not the only concern that legislators had though. The group also brought up sports betting companies and how they normally operate, with the majority of profits usually coming back to them.

This is seen in Arkansas' casinos, which want 51% of the profits, favoring them.

"I also believe it is important enough public policy that the state should require a casino to not seed over half of its business to a third party vendor that does not have a casino license," Saffa said.

So, while it could be another day or two before you can actually place use your phone to place in the Natural State, casino executives think it will happen soon.

"It is clear that folks are interested in this," Saffa said. "It is live in Louisiana, it is live in Tennessee, and it will soon be live in Arkansas."

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