Arkansas offers limited gambling opportunities, but there is a strong push for the legalization of sports betting and the expansion of legal casino gambling within state lines.
The new legislation was proposed thanks to a petition championed by local advocacy groups, such as Driving Arkansas Forward and Arkansas Jobs Coalition. This petition received the required number of signatures and met all formal requirements, which means that it will be voted on during the November 6 elections.
All Arkansas residents who have registered to vote will be able to weigh in on this issue, which will be listed as Issue 4 on the ballot. The new amendment is being actively opposed by Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson, who announced that he would be voting against it.
Historically speaking, gambling in Arkansas has revolved around two racetracks since the early 20th century. In the 90s, new casinos were founded in neighboring states, Louisiana and Mississippi, and the Arkansas gambling facilities started losing popularity among local gamblers. To counteract this phenomenon, Arkansas lawmakers allowed these establishments to begin offering instant betting devices in 1999 and basic casino games in 2005. These games include slots, blackjack, roulette, and poker. In 2013, Arkansas racinos were also permitted to offer internet betting on local races.
Online gambling in Arkansas is not a possibility right now, and that will not change even if the local land-based casino expansion becomes a reality. As mentioned, the Governor is opposed to law-sanctioned gambling, and the existing regulations are extensive and prohibitive. Gambling is defined as betting any money or any valuable thing on any game of hazard or skill regardless of the device used by the player. There’s no legal loophole that would allow Arkansas residents to play on offshore gambling sites, such as BetOnline or Bovada. DFS contests are the only exception – the bill legalizing them was passed in 2017.
Legal land-based gambling in Arkansas is centered around the local racinos – Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis. The available casino options include slots, craps, blackjack, video poker, and roulette. If the new regulations are passed in November, Arkansas will get six additional casinos. However, this won’t change the legal status of online casino games, which are currently prohibited. As explained in the introduction, illegal gambling in Arkansas is defined in a way that makes it impossible for local iGaming enthusiasts to play on offshore casino sites.
Competitive poker can be played at Southland Park in West Memphis. The Oaklawn Racing and Gaming racino offers a game called Ultimate Texas Hold ’em, which is played against the dealer. Arkansas doesn’t allow house games, and poker enthusiasts who participate in them may be fined between $10 and $25. Regulated online poker isn’t available at all, and playing on offshore poker sites is illegal.
As of Nov. 2018, sports betting is legal in Arkansas. The first sportsbooks went live nine months later in July 2019. At the time, the only option was in-person sports betting at one of the state’s three casinos. That changed on March 5, 2022, when online sports betting became legal in Arkansas.
Though Arkansas online sports betting is live now, the controversial sharing revenue rule formulated by the state has impeded the growth of the new market.
Arkansas sports bettors can drive to three out of four authorized Arkansas casinos to have in-person sports betting:
Prior to the new sports betting law, state-sanctioned sports betting was limited to horse and dog races in West Memphis and Hot Springs. The local facilities have been allowed to offer online betting in 2013. The Oaklawn Racing and Gaming racino’s online platform is called Oakland Anywhere, while Southland Park Gaming and Racing hasn’t launched its own service so far.
Arkansas was the 11th state to legalize paid-entry DFS contests. The relevant bill, H 2250, was signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson in April 2017. DFS operators are required to pay an 8% tax on the revenue generated by users located within Arkansas state lines. However, the new regulations don’t contain any special consumer protections.
Arkansas voters approved the sale of lottery tickets in their state in 2008.
In 2009, Arkansas joined the Multi-State Lottery Association, allowing local retailers to begin selling Powerball and Mega Millions tickets. Video-lottery games are illegal, and online ticket sales are still prohibited. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery website is for informational purposes only, which is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Bingo is available exclusively as a charity game. No state-sanctioned bingo sites are operating in Arkansas, and playing on offshore sites is illegal. Even if passed, the new casino expansion bill will not change the legal status of bingo games.
What types of gambling are available in AR?
Even though Arkansas used to be a gambling hot sport about two hundred years ago, wagering real money on games of chance isn’t exactly a popular pass-time in The Land of Opportunity these days. Legal land-based gambling is limited to horse and greyhound pari-mutuel betting, the state lottery, and some additional games at the tracks. The local law is slightly weird and requires all of those games to be skill-based and electronic in form and nature, which means that some of the tracks tend to look like video poker and electronic blackjack hotspots from time to time.
What laws cover online gambling in AR?
Most of the issues pertaining to playing games of chance for money are covered by Arkansas Code, Section 5. None of the Arkansas statutes deal with online play, but you should keep in mind that Arkansas officials are free to claim that the general regulations do indeed extend to online gambling-related actions.
Is real money online gambling legal in AR?
Real money online gaming isn’t explicitly banned within the borders of Arkansas. The legal situation is somewhat ambiguous, but we firmly believe that playing online is perfectly safe for Arkansas -based iGaming enthusiasts.
Which offshore gambling sites accept AR residents?
US-facing sites generally tend to accept Arkansas-based customers, which shouldn’t be all that surprising since the local authorities aren’t trying to prevent them from playing on offshore sites.
What are the most popular banking options supported by Arkansas-facing sites?
The best way to fund your poker, casino, or sportsbook account is to use a credit or debit card. However, you have to keep in mind that this method isn’t 100% reliable. However, both Visa and MasterCard enjoy a rather high success rate.
Does AR offer any intrastate online gambling?
No. Contrary to what some people may believe, Arkansas has never established a real money online gaming market. Arkansas entrepreneurs can’t offer real money online gaming services due to the current Arkansas regulations.
Is it likely for AR to regulate online gambling?
The idea of regulating online poker and launching a local, intrastate market doesn’t seem to be on the agenda of any local lawmaker or lobby group. Consequently, Arkansas isn’t likely to draft an iGaming bill in the foreseeable future.
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