The wait continues for iOS users hoping to legally place wagers on sporting events in Arkansas. While the state legalized mobile sports betting in late February — clearing the way for a potential launch in early March — Arkansas’ three casinos have yet to launch an iOS betting app.
Southland Casino Racing launched Betly sportsbook, which is available in Arkansas on web browsers and through an Android app, but an iOS app is not yet available. Saracen Casino Resort representatives originally told Arkansans that its online sportsbook would be ready to launch by the start of March Madness. But Monday night, Kansas’ men’s basketball team cut down the nets — and the BetSaracen sports betting platform has yet to launch in any capacity.
BetSaracen’s Twitter provided an update Wednesday afternoon, saying, “Everything for the app is approved, but we’re still in a waiting game with external vendors. Hoping to have a bigger update soon, but it’s out of our hands for the time being. We’ll post as soon as we know more.”
I wish I had a dollar in free play for every time you gave this update
— brody (@brrooddy) April 6, 2022
Arkansans have grown accustomed to similar updates from the account in recent weeks, as the waiting continues. The state’s three casinos offer retail sports wagering, but many bettors are looking forward to the increased convenience of multiple mobile betting platforms and sportsbook registration bonuses. Southland and Saracen have stayed away from sharing a projected iOS launch date in recent days, while Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort estimates its mobile betting platform is a few months away.
Major national sportsbook operators like BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel aren’t expected to launch in Arkansas anytime soon because of the state’s 51% revenue-sharing rule.
Why the delay?
Saracen Casino representatives have often said that the casino has completed all of its work on the app, but that its partners and vendors are still in the process of completing a few logistical steps before launch. At the end of March, a post on the BetSaracen Twitter account explained, “All we’re waiting on is payment vendors and it to be listed on app stores.”
Understandably, the casino wants every part of its app to function correctly, and launching a mobile sports betting platform isn’t easy. It takes time to roll out a new regulated sports betting platform, and there are several key technical components, ranging from geolocation services to payment processing to identity verification.
At this point, our team has done everything on their end
to launch – it is now in the hands of regulators as they check and test all of the systems before it becomes operational. It's critical that every element is performing properly before going live. https://t.co/GgHGNwVve6
— BetSaracen (@BetSaracen) March 15, 2022
Saracen Casino Chief Marketing Officer Carlton Saffa also tweeted in March that the casino didn’t want to launch BetSaracen’s offerings in stages, but rather as a complete product. That means that while Betly was rolled out in stages — a betting platform for web browsers and an Android app launched before the iOS app will become available — Saracen Casino wants the launch of BetSaracen to include everything from a browser platform to iOS and Android apps.
Saffa made a fair point in his tweet that a staged launch wouldn’t completely please customers. Betly’s online sportsbook has unique payment methods that frustrate customers, and the sportsbook doesn’t even offer NHL odds, so it’s hard to say BetSaracen’s more patient approach won’t pay off in the end. It’s easy to imagine some legal bettors preferring BetSaracen, assuming the platform offers fair odds, standard payment and withdrawal methods, and NHL odds.
Perhaps the only actual blunder from Saracen Casino was commenting about when the BetSaracen platform would launch. On numerous occasions, Saracen Casino representatives have said that BetSaracen would launch before or during March Madness.
On March 11, representatives from the casino estimated a potential launch “any day now.” Even on March 24, the BetSaracen Twitter account posted that it hoped to launch by the end of the month. Several times, customers have been given false hope as to the digital betting platform’s launch.
“Good job BetSaracen on releasing your app by March Madness,” one Twitter user sarcastically posted. “I guess you meant 2023.”
Other Twitter users worried in recent days that the platform wouldn’t launch by the start of the NBA playoffs, which begin later this month. Thursday is the first day of the MLB season and The Masters, but users weren’t able to wager on the BetSaracen platform.
National Championship game tonight and still no app from @BetSaracen. So many false promises were made to Arkansans and the racing commission.
— Bet Arkansas (@BetArkSports) April 4, 2022
Arkansas residents still seem engaged with BetSaracen’s social accounts, suggesting that even after a delay, they genuinely want to bet using the platform. They’ve also made it clear that they want accurate information from casino representatives on when the various iOS apps and platforms plan to launch.
“Wouldn’t have been an issue at all if they didn’t come out and give dates and time frames … time after time,” one user tweeted. “I’m sure the app will be great and I’ll love it, but man what a horrible look!! Embarrassing.”