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Florida and Arkansas Eyeing Online Casino Legislation

May 3, 2024

To date, only seven (7) U.S. states allow any form of online/mobile casino gambling. That's quite a small number in comparison to the 38 states that have successfully passed online sports betting legislation. Despite this disparity, there is growing evidence that other states are starting to take a serious look at online/mobile casino gambling for their residents. Among those states are Florida and Arkansas.

Seminole Tribe in Florida Prepares to Pursue Online Casinos

It's been more than 18 months since the Seminole Indian Tribe started taking online sports bets via its Hard Rock Bet platform. During that time, sports betting activities had to be temporarily suspended due to litigation filed by West Flagler, a commercial gambling concern that operates in the state. 

To date, the Seminoles have been able to start accepting bets again while current litigation is sitting at the SCOTUS for consideration. West Flagler is questioning the legality of the current Indian compact, which effectively gives the Tribe exclusive rights to accept online sports bets. 

Under the presumption that the SCOTUS will deny West Flagler's request, the Seminoles are looking to expand their grip on Florida's online gambling market. They are preparing to go to state legislators, requesting permission to start offering online/mobile casino gambling services throughout the state. 

In an interview with PlayUSA.com, Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming had this to say about pursuing online casino legislation:

“I think that No. 1, if the case was resolved in our favor, we would then have to reinitiate conversations with the governor’s office, the House, and the Senate. And then that becomes a political process that we would navigate through. Certainly, the polling suggests that the citizens of the state of Florida would like to have it, but you have to go through the process.”

To be clear, the Seminoles have shown an interest in having the right to offer these services. They haven't yet pushed the envelope while awaiting the disposition of West Flagler's lawsuit. They are hoping to hear something in June, which is why they are trying to get things in order now. 

Arkansas Retail Casino Executive Seeks Online Casino Legislation

There are currently three (3) retail casinos licensed to operate in Arkansas. One of them is Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, which is currently being guided by Carlton Saffa, chief market officer.

Sensing there might be an opportunity to expand Arkansas' online gambling market, SAffa has sent a letter to the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC), seeking an expansion of allowable online gambling options. 

While online poker is already approved in Arkansas, there is little to no access for residents to such activities. What Saffa wants is permission via a rule change is the right to offer other types of online casino games such as video slots, video poker, and table games. It's noteworthy that prior online gambling legislation has uniquely given the ARC the ability to authorize such a change. 

While the ARC has stated they have no interest in changing the rules at this time, they are open to listening to proposals from interested parties.

 


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