Oaklawn Park’s online betting site is getting some impressive results, with total revenues now reaching $9.1 million.
US lawmakers haven’t completely made their mind up about whether to fully embrace online gambling or completely ban it, but operators working through the internet are trying to make the best out of their businesses while they still can.
Take Oaklawn Park for instance, a horse track located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It has only been five months since the American thoroughbred racetrack launched its online and mobile betting service, but the operator has already made $9.1 million out of it.
Figures show that while the website got off to a slow start, there is still hope that it will soon gain ground on competitors working from outside the state.
Ten years of waiting pays off
OaklawnAnywhere is a website that greets residents of Arkansas with a number of betting options. Players can place wagers on races hosted by both American and international tracks via their smartphones, tablets and personal computers from anywhere in the world.
According to the latest statistics published by the Arkansas State Racing Commission, the online service has generated wagers of $9.1 million since it was launched five months ago. It took a very long time to get here though, as the operator had to wait over ten years to get approval to launch its online venture.
Until last year, the State Legislator consistently denied Oaklawn Park permission to launch the betting site. Bobby Geiger, director of gaming and wagering for the race track, told reporters: “This past legislative session, we made the ask once again.”
Considering how other states have chosen to support the legalization of online casinos, the idea was met with overwhelming approval this time around, as Arkansas lawmakers finally decided to allow Oaklawn Park to go live with betting services.
Supporting local businesses
The Family Council was against the idea, but Ron Oliver, chief of the State Racing Commission, said players use other national and international websites anyway. This is why it made sense to offer residents of Arkansas the possibility of using a local licensed service instead. Besides, the state also makes profit from this business.
“The core of our mission was to give Arkansans a choice of a hometown provider as opposed to someone from out of state,” Geiger said. “We never thought we would compete with the national sites anyway. That was never our intention.”
Sen. Bill Sample, who sponsored the bill to legalize the online betting site, added: “For years you could bet, but all that tax money was going to Kentucky.”
Oaklawn had to plan something to save costs, so the operator partnered up with TwinSpires, a website run by the Churchill Downs racetrack from Kentucky. The state of Arkansas retains only 1% of the revenue generated by Oaklawn online betting site, but the new business has helped revive the horse racing industry.
Pro or against online gambling?
Lawmakers are now debating whether to change the current American gambling laws to introduce internet betting or ban it completely. And with the general elections scheduled for later this year the topic is hotter than ever, as politicians are choosing sides carefully.
A decade of horse racing
Oaklawn hosted its first race on February 24, 1905, in front of 3,000 people. The racetrack is home to the Racing Festival of the South and Arkansas Derby. Today, the OaklawnAnywhere website offers members a wide variety of features, including:
- Free betting services
- Live streaming of races
- Real-time racing information
- Conditional Wagering
Senator Lindsey Graham and Representative Jason Chaffetz were among the first ones to declare war against online casinos earlier in March, when they announced their plan to restore the old interpretation of the Wire Act.
Three states have already decided to legalize online poker sites or casino games and several others are considering doing the same, but now members of the Congress are looking for arguments to vilify internet gambling.
Rumor has it the man behind this sudden change of heart is none other than casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. The Las Vegas Sands chairman sponsors the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, but most importantly, he is one of the biggest campaign contributors out there, so everyone is eager to please him.
All figures point to the fact that internet gambling can be profitable, but some argue that revenues aren’t high enough. It looks like the fate of online casinos willremain undecided for a little while longer.