Arkansas Gambling Laws

Arkansas Gambling LawsWhen examining the Gambling Laws in Arkansas, you wonder how different things may have been for Arkansas.  The Post-Civil-War betting-complexes-and-casinos in Hot Springs provided the infrastructure to set up a gambling industry that could potentially rival Nevada and Las Vegas as a national gambling center. However, gambling in Hot Springs was closed in 1967. Forty years would pass before any gambling options became available in Arkansas again.

Please see below for the current legal environments for sports betting laws in Arkansas, gambling online in Arkansas etc.

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos Yes No
Fantasy Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker Yes No
Horse-Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes No
Charitable-Gambling Yes No

Arkansas Gambling Tax Rate

In Arkansas, there is a 7% state tax on gambling winnings.

Large wins may also incur Federal taxes.

Arkansas Gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
DFS 18
Casinos 21
Horse-Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable-Gambling 18

Arkansas Sports Betting Legislation

Announced in September 2018, Arkansas’ State Legislature are set to debate sports betting laws by considering a constitutional amendment that would authorize four casinos and enable them to offer legal sports betting to the state’s residents and visitors.

The Secretary of State of Arkansas has confirmed that the sports betting in Arkansas initiative will feature in the fall 2018 general election ballot (November 2018), despite Governor Asa Hutchinson having declared opposition to the effort.

Sports Betting in Arkansas

Despite the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court (when betting on sports became legal in the U.S. at the Federal level), Arkansas has no legal land-based sportbooks for the time being.

However, should the abovementioned casino and sports betting motion pass in November 2018, the Arkansas Racing Commission would be able to issue casino licenses to applicants in Jefferson County and Pope County, as well as Southland Racing Corp. in West Memphis and Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs.

It is anticipated that fully legal land-based sportsbooks will potentially be available at all of the proposed casinos.

Sports Betting Online

 Sports Betting Online is currently prohibited in Arkansas.

However, due to loopholes in the state’s online gambling laws, the outstanding exemptions to the online sports betting exceptions in Arkansas are Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and horse & greyhound racing betting.

The State’s residents and visitors can fully and legally enjoy gambling online including the opportunity to construct and win money with their Fantasy Teams, and/or win big money by gambling on the Kentucky Derby or the Triple Crown on the best horse racing betting sites available in the nation.

Casinos in Arkansas

Despite Arkansas casinos being officially ‘racinos’ (former or current racetracks where casino games and services are offered), they offer most of the games you would find at regular casinos. These games include blackjack, roulette, craps, slots, and even live poker.

Arkansas Land-based Casinos

While the definition of ‘casino’ is broadly accepted to mean live gambling action, other than travelling to the huge Casino resorts of Mississippi, the closest that players will come to Vegas-style gaming action in Arkansas is at the state’s two ‘racinos.’ Apart from casino table games, you’ll find more than 2600 slots and gaming machines with minimum bets set at $0.01 up to a rather lean maximum bet of $25.

Online Casinos in Arkansas

While there are no specific online casino laws relating specifically to the legal status of casinos online in Arkansas, online casinos are considered illegal under current general guidelines in the state.

Without any online casino laws in Arkansas, or a lack of any laws affirming online gambling in the positive, we advise all potential online casino players in Alaska to obey the implicit interpretation of the state’s gambling law that online casinos are considered to be illegal.

Online casinos (US-based or Offshore) should not be used in Arkansas until full legalization is passed by the State’s lawmakers.

With the exceptions of legal DFS games and horse & greyhound racing, online gambling options are still illegal in Arkansas until further notice.

Horse Racing Betting in Arkansas

Horse Racing Betting is completely legal (both online and on course/track side) for residents of the state of Arkansas and its visitors.

Bets on horse racing can be made on live races, at off-track betting facilities and online, and as a result, all of popular horse and dog racing betting websites that operate across the United States have a presence in the state of Arkansas.

Track Side: There is only one live racing venue in Arkansas and Oaklawn Track in Little Rock is considered to be one of the nation’s premier horse racing tracks and hosts the Arkansas Derby, an important lead-up even for runners in the Kentucky Derby. The track is open for live betting, Wednesday through Saturday and the live racing calendar usually from January until April each year.

Off Track Betting (OTB): Off track betting bureaus (OTBs) are not widespread in Arkansas. Full betting on Horse and Greyhound Racing, and simulcast racing are offered at only 2 locations (the state’s two racinos) in the state. Betting on races in Arkansas, most major racing locations worldwide and of course, across the United States and are all available.

Online Betting on Horse Racing in Arkansas

As one of the only two forms of legal online betting in the state, it’s hardly surprising then that all major U.S. online horse racing betting sites all accept customers from the state of Arkansas and offer real money bets on horse racing (Triple Crown, Arkansas Derby, Kentucky Derby etc.) for residents of Arkansas and the state’s visitors.

Arkansas’ Daily Fantasy Sports Laws

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) have been decided upon by U.S. Federal legislators to be fully exempt from any Federal gambling bans. At the Federal level at least, DFS is determined to be contest of skill, rather than a gambling game of random chance.

Many states are beginning to adopt the Federal recommendations into their own state law structures. In April 2017, Arkansas became just 11th state to legalize DFS when State Governor Asa Hutchinson signed bill H 2250 into law. The legislation was passed by both chambers of the state legislature by overwhelming majorities.

Subsequently, major DFS sites all accept players resident in and visitors to, the state of Arkansas for their real money contests.

What is DFS exactly?

DFS betting is a different format of sports betting to the traditional ‘straight’ sports betting. In a DFS league, you need to stay within a virtual salary cap which is then used for you to ‘spend’ and draft players into your DFS team.

Each player is priced determined on their perceived market value in their respective sports league (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL etc.) and their value is usually based on the standard of their seasonal and all-time career performances.

Using an NFL DFS league for example, if you wish to ‘buy’ the best quarterback in the NFL, you’ll need to spend a significant percentage of your salary cap on that single star player. The best DFS teams usually feature consistent, ‘journeymen’ performers rather than superstar athletes.

Once you have ‘paid’ for your virtual team from your set team ‘budget’, take a comfortable seat and relax to watch and see how the outcomes of the games unfold.

Your DFS team’s real-life counterparts collect stats (TDs, receipts, rushing yards, sacks etc.) in the real-world sports events and as such, your fantasy league team accumulates points online.

The person whose team accumulates the most points, wins their DFS league, whether that is a daily, weekly, regular season or stand-alone playoff ‘league’ or competition. The winner of a DFS competition can end up winning millions of dollars in cash prizes.

All of the major professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB & NHL) have concurrent DFS leagues. Note, in many states, college sports and other amateur matches are required to be exempt from DFS competitions.

Poker Laws in Arkansas

At one of Arkansas’ two ‘racinos’, there are 6 legal tables for Live Poker at which cash prizes are available and a number of professional tournaments are held from time-to-time. Other than that, Poker rooms cannot be found in the state of Arkansas.

Home poker games are not allowed in Arkansas as social gaming is considered to be against the state’s gambling laws. Running foul of the state’s home poker laws though, will only cost you a maximum of fine of only $25.

Online Poker Laws in Arkansas

Online poker in Arkansas and video poker online are both implicitly deemed illegal in the state. There is no regulation or moves towards legalizing online poker in Arkansas at the moment. For full details, please refer to the above section on ‘Online Casinos in Arkansas’.

eSports Betting in Arkansas

Legalized sports betting markets across the planet offer a range of betting markets across all the major eSports tournaments. With the exception of DFS and Horse & Greyhound Racing, Arkansas sports betting, and as a result eSports betting options are still unavailable. When sports betting becomes legal in Arkansas, eSports betting will become a new fun and fascinating way for players to win, and for the State Government of the ‘Natural State’ to accumulate revenue for additional infrastructure and services.

What are ‘eSports’?

eSports’ – the abbreviation for electronic sports – is the umbrella term for organized, competitive gaming which has exploded in popularity over the past decade.

eSports has efficiently and effectively transformed video game play at its highest-levels into a full-time professional sport in which the best players sign multi-million-dollar contracts to compete for team glory. Rather than competing for individual honors, eSports are mostly played by teams and in league and tournament formats.

The electronic games themselves are equivalent to different sports types. For example, in eSports, the games League of Legends, Fortnite and Starcraft are equivalent to, say, NFL, NHL and MLB. eSports is the overarching concept, while the different electronic game types are loosely equivalent to different types of sports.

Betting on eSports is growing enormously in popularity and the dollar figures wagered on eSports is undergoing unfathomable and exponential growth year-on-year. International sportsbooks worldwide offer a range of betting markets across all major eSports tournaments and formats.

Most spectators watch from home but eSports competitions attract tens-of-thousands of people to stadiums across the world, and eSports competitions have been transformed into global betting events with the advent of live streaming technology.

Watch here for updates on sports betting becoming legalized in Arkansas, to take part in legal eSports betting in the state ASAP.

Benefits of Gambling to Arkansas

  • Gambling is an excellent and viable source of additional state income and provides the state of Arkansas revenue streams to pay for positive education outcomes, improvements in the state’s health system, and better security law and order services for the state’s residents.
  • Much needed job creation in the Arkansas economy. Arkansas has defied nationwide drops in the unemployment rate to increase from 3.6% (April 2017) to 3.8% (February 2018).
  • Gambling provides cheaper tuition fees at state universities and colleges.
  • Keeps Arkansas money in the state and not in the mega-casinos of neighboring Mississippi.
  • If passed, the November 2018 State ballot on opening up the Arkansas commercial and tribal casino industry will open up the creation of jobs and increase economic prosperity to Native American people living on Tribal lands.

History of Gambling in Arkansas

1880 – Racetracks first open for business in Arkansas.

1880’s1967 The height of the gambling scene in Arkansas’ Hot Springs Casinos.

1936 – First running of the Arkansas Derby, the major lead-up race to the Kentucky Derby.

1955 – First Greyhound track opened in Arkansas.

1967 – State Legislature closes down the thriving Hot Springs Casino industry.

2005‘Games-of-Skill’ legislation passed in Arkansas allowing expanded casino machine and table games operation at the state’s racinos.

2007 – Carve outs made in State Law for Charitable Gaming.

2009 – Arkansas’ State Lottery (‘Scholarship Lottery’) begins with funds going to subsidize University education.

2017DFS legalized into law by Arkansas’ State Governor Asa Hutchinson.



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