Arkansas is situated in the south of the US and is famous for its mountains and wildlife. Mining, agriculture and tourism are the major pillars supporting its economy. Religiously and politically, Arkansas shares similar views along sides its neighboring states – strong Christian and conservative values. Subsequently this translates to gambling laws which are restrictive, but are not as far reaching as neighboring states.
In this GambleDex guide, we discuss how restrictive the laws are in Arkansas, the State Lottery, Sports Betting, Horse and Dog racing, Bingo and the light touch fines if caught illegally gambling.
If you are interested in what bordering states offer in gaming options, jump to the bottom section of this page.
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Arkansas Online Gambling
Online gambling in Arkansas is technically illegal, albeit, it can be argued otherwise given how complicated and ambiguous state laws are.
IF (and highly unlikely) the law enforcement finds you breaching online gambling laws, and IF they wish to impose a fine, the fine will amount to a fee of $50. Now the odds of this occurring are so low, that there has not been any recorded incident or breach.
The law enforcement priorities very much come down first to other more severe crimes, and if it were to become prevalent, the imposing of fines would first be applied to the casino operators, both online or land based. NOT on the player(s).
It’s therefore fairly safe to conclude that if you wish to partake in online gambling, you will be able to play relatively risk free.
In 2020 we saw a move to expand the Arkansas legalization of gambling from an action group from Little Rock which is being financially supported by the Quapaw and Cherokee tribes of Oklahoma. In the past, changes to gambling laws have been met with opposition, however, to date none has been forthcoming so there is a high chance of success. The past has also displayed relatively confusing state laws when compared to other states. Inconsistency with the application of the law has led to uncertainty as to which forms are legal and which aren’t. Having said that, the current landscape of casinos now offers a wide variety of gaming, which appears to contradict the state’s gambling laws.
The current landscape of Arkansas offers 2 casinos with over 2,651 slots, gaming machines and just recently a whole range of table games. The table games include blackjack, craps, baccarat, roulette and others. There is also poker in its various forms which include: Limit Holdem, No Limit Holdem, Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha 8 or Better, Omaha Hi. There is also a massive array of electronic games such as video poker, video blackjack and electronic slots.
Further points to note:
- There are no Indian casinos in Arkansas.
- The two casinos in Arkansas are pari-mutuel racetracks.
- The payout ratio is a minimum of 83%.
- The minimum gambling age at both Arkansas casinos is 21, or 18 for pari-mutuel wagering.
In reading the state legislation regarding gaming law in Arkansas it is clear that the permitted gaming relates mainly to horse and greyhound racing. There are exceptions in the form of “electronic games of skill”, where it is unclear as to exactly what is a game of skill. Whilst “electronic” can be construed as games allowed without a dealer involved or physical human exertion? To be honest, it’s quite ambiguous, but the reality tells a different story. The two racinos detailed below now offer a whole range of gaming. What is quite clear is that online casinos prohibited.
2705 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901
Oaklawn hosts the famous horse races every year from January to April/May, but they have also just recently added a casino as well, a casino that is comparable to the mega casinos in Las Vegas! This casino offers everything! There are so many games to choose from, from the roulette table, automated craps table to slot machines. My favourite is the blackjack, they have both live and state of the art electronic. The casino hosts several restaurants and bars. The Bistro serves a delicious breakfast/brunch and is value for money. Sills Bar n Grill serves really quality, fresh food. As with all good casinos, they also have live music, plus throw in karaoke and trivia nights!
Adjacent to the casino is the race track, so it’s easy to get to. You can get up-close and personal with the horses on this track! A definite must for this racino!
1550 North Ingram Boulevard, West Memphis, AR 72301
They have the horses at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming while Southland Park Gaming and Racing they have the greyhounds! The casino is mega fun! On 55,000 square feet they have 1,900 gaming machines, virtual and live blackjack, craps, video poker and state of the art roulette machines. In the poker room, they have the favorites, Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha Poker. This casino is extremely high tech and patrons love it. Open 24/7.
Why are there only two racinos in Arkansas?
Historically Arkansas had (and still do) strict gambling laws. Following the civil war, casino operations began to flourish in the state illegally. Corrupt officials were bribed to allow gambling to take place, in contravention to the state law. So although gambling was prohibited there gambling was still taking place. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the law was enforced. All illegal casinos were shut down with the exception of Oaklawn and Southland, horse and greyhound racing respectively, which arguably was legal and allowed to remain in operation.
Sports betting remains illegal in Arizona, however a Bill has been presented to the House in order to legalize. As with many states that have been pushing for a change in sports betting laws, time is needed for change. And for this state a lot of time may be needed.
On offer are the two major national lotteries Powerball and Mega Millions. Also on offer are the state local lotteries.
Arkansas's Gambling Laws Interpreted by a Lawyer
Although this southern state does not permit any form of betting unless specifically authorized by state law its gambling laws are more progressive than its neighbors’. Until 2018, most gambling in the state was restricted to electronic gaming machines for games of skill and limited to Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, Mississippi Stud, and Three Card Poker. Last year, however, residents voted through a state-wide referendum to pass full casino gambling at the state’s two horse racing tracks, Oaklawn Park and Southland Park, as well as the development of two land-based casinos. Race betting and charitable gambling in the form of bingos and raffles are also permitted. See Ark. Code Ann. § 5-66-101 et seq.; Ark. Code Ann. § 23-110 et seq.
Sports Betting: With the passage of the new law, sports betting is legal in the state though no casinos have yet to operate sportsbooks due to the fact that the operation of casinos themselves were only approved at the same time. Thus, for now, individuals wishing to place online sports and fantasy sports bets must still turn outside of the state. Both DraftKings and FanDuel do accept Arkansas residents for fantasy sports bets.
Race Betting: Like in many states, horse betting and pari-mutuel betting is legal in Arkansas at its racing tracks, with the races being a long-standing Arkansas’ tradition, and, until 2018, other forms of gambling were limited to the state’s race track-based casinos or racinos. Both operational tracks allow off-track betting and simulcasting.
Online Gambling: No laws strictly prohibit online gambling in Arkansas though arguably the general prohibitions against gambling unless explicitly authorized would extend to the online sphere as well. Thus, due to the unregulated nature of online gambling and gaming in the state, individuals wishing to participate in online gambling, must take the risk and place bets online through non-Arkansas, offshore platforms. Betting on card games carries a small fine of not more than $25. Online lottery gambling is expressly permitted through the state lottery, Powerball, and Mega Millions.
Online Gaming: Skill and social games are permitted with the state permitting more social casinos to operate than most, including MyVegas, Slotomania, Zynga, Facebook and others, as well as a social casino operated by Southland Park race track.
Disclaimer: The information in this multi-state research is made available by a licensed, U.S. attorney, and is for informational purposes only. We make no representations that the information is complete or correct in its entirety. It should not be construed as providing specific legal advice, and you acknowledge that no attorney/client relationship exists between us. This brief should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed gambling and entertainment lawyer in your state.
Wikipedia: List of Arkansas Casinos