Southland Casino Racing on Saturday became the first casino in Arkansas to launch a mobile sports betting service.
The casino in West Memphis began accepting wagers through Betly, the mobile betting platform run by its owner, Delaware North of Buffalo, New York. Wagers were being accepted only through a computer, with apps for Apple and Android devices expected to launch soon, Southland said in a news release.
Southland had been quiet about its preparations for mobile sports betting in Arkansas, making it something of a surprise that it was first to launch. In a news release Saturday, Delaware North said it developed the online sportsbook and mobile app through Gamewise, a joint venture the company launched in July with Belgian gaming and betting company GAMING1. The Belgian company is one of the largest gaming operators in Europe, with over 42 gaming halls and casino resorts in Belgium, France and Switzerland.
Southland said the new online sportsbook complements its onsite Betly sportsbook.
"Many patrons are already using our Betly sportsbook kiosks at Southland, so the online sportsbook will be a familiar and convenient extension of our sports betting experience," Southland President and General Manager David Wolf said in the release.
Luisa Woods, vice president of marketing for Delaware North’s gaming division, said the sportsbook aims to be "user friendly and unintimidating."
"It’s innovative features are specifically designed to engage and entertain sports fans, but we use familiar terminology and aren’t pushing high-dollar offers that can scare casual sports fans away," she said.
Delaware North also operates the Betly online sportsbook in West Virginia, where the company runs two casinos.
The Arkansas Racing Commission approved mobile sports wagers in December and sent proposed rules to lawmakers for review. Casinos were hoping to launch in time for the Super Bowl, but that was delayed after national sportsbooks including DraftKings and FanDuel objected to a profit-sharing rule that gives 51% of net revenue to casinos.
Lawmakers gave final approval to the rule on Feb. 22, clearing the way for wagers to begin in time for the NCAA's March Madness basketball tournament.
Saracen Casino Resort, which began developing its app more than a year ago, is aiming for a full launch before the tournament tips off. Carlton Saffa, the casino's chief market officer, tweeted Thursday that its app is "ready and awaiting App Store and payment processor final approvals."
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, which began developing its app a few months ago, told Gambling.com that it's targeting a launch date between April and June.