Monday June 2,2014 : ARKANSAS RACE TRACK LOOKS FORWARD TO ONLINE SUCCESS
Oaklawn Park online venture takes advantage of legal carve-out
Oaklawn Park, an American thoroughbred racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas says while its betting website launched late last year has been slow getting out of the gate, it still has high hopes of gaining ground on out-of-state competitors.
OaklawnAnywhere.com allows Arkansas residents to place bets on U.S and international track events using smartphones, tablets and computers from anywhere in the world.
Since launch OaklawnAnywhere.com has generated wagers of $9.1 million said the Arkansas Business Online (ABO) publication quoting stats from the Arkansas State Racing Commission.
“We’re very happy with the response over the first five months,” commented Bobby Geiger, director of gaming and wagering for Oaklawn Park.
Oaklawn Park's online venture has been waiting in the sidelines for over ten years, Geiger told ABO, but permission was consistently denied by the State Legislature.
“This past legislative session, we made the ask once again,” Geiger said, an ask that was met with overwhelming approval for both Oaklawn and Southland, a greyhound track in West Memphis. The bill passed the Arkansas House of Representatives 84-0 and the Senate, 35-0.
Despite opposition from The Family Council, Ron Oliver, director of the State Racing Commission said the ability to bet online is not new to Arkansans who bet on other national and international websites, the difference is part of the money now goes to the State.
“The core of our mission was to give Arkansans a choice of a hometown provider as opposed to someone from out of state,” Geiger concluded. “We never thought we would compete with the national sites anyway. That was never our intention.”
"For years you could bet, but all that tax money was going to Kentucky," added bill sponsor Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs.
Oaklawn ultimately partnered with Churchill Downs' TwinSpires.com in an effort to save costs and the State of Arkansas takes 1 percent of revenue generated by OaklawnAnywhere and other races at the track.
While still a small portion of total wagers, OaklawnAnywhere helped to offset a $5.1 million decline in wagers from simulcast and live racing.