Arkansas gambling laws are becoming some of the most permissive in the south. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Oklahoma allow more forms of gambling and more land-based gaming sites than Arkansas, but the Natural State has passed several important gambling laws in the past decade or two. That is a far sight better than most other states in the American south.
The state’s race tracks were a part of the culture for generations. Oaklawn Park was established in 1904. Southland Park was built in 1956. Otherwise, most other forms of gambling were banned until quite recently. Arkansas allowed charitable gambling in 2007, which was an important half-step towards expanded commercial gambling.
Live gaming tables were banned until 2018. Until last November’s election, Arkansas only allowed electronic gaming machines — not slots, but electronic games of skill involving Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, and Three Card Poker. Then Issue 4 (often called Amendment 4) allowed full casino gambling at Oaklawn Park and Southland Park, as well as the development of two new land-based casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties.
Laws That Pertain to Arkansas Gambling
Arkansas gambling laws allow two race tracks to operate casinos (racinos), but the laws against table games are so strict that you won’t recognize any version of blackjack, craps, or poker. It is a bit like California, where the poker clubs must come up with inventive forms of table games for them to be legal.
Section 5-66-106: Definition of Betting
“It is unlawful for any person to bet any money or other valuable thing or any representative of anything that is esteemed of value on any game prohibited by state law.”
Arkansas authorities have tremendous scope to define a form of gaming as illegal gambling. A phrase like “any money or other valuable thing or any representative of anything that is esteemed of value” is a particularly broad definition of a gambling stake. Lawmakers in the state are beginning to legalize more forms of gambling, though, so Arkansas is beginning to change its attitudes towards gambling.
Section 5-66-107: Definition of Gambling Devices
“(a)It is unlawful for any owner or occupant of any house, outbuilding, or other building or any steamboat, or other vessel to knowingly permit or suffer any games, tables, or banks mentioned in ß 5-66-104 or permit or suffer any kind of gaming under any name, to be carried on or exhibited in his or her house, outbuilding, or other building, or on board of any steamboat, flatboat, keelboat, or other vessel on any of the waters within this state.
(b) Upon conviction, a person who violates this section is guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor and shall be fined in any sum not less than one hundred dollars ($100) and may be imprisoned any length of time not less than thirty (30) days nor more than one (1) year.”
The definition of gambling devices has more to do with punishments and the places where it’s illegal to gamble than the devices themselves. Readers can see how old certain parts of Arkansas’ gambling statutes are when they see the attention paid to “steamboat” gambling. In essence, the law outlaws gambling in one’s house, outhouse, or any kind of boat kept on a waterway.
Fines for convictions are open-ended, though archaic. The fine stipulated is $100, though it has no seeming upward limit. The same can be said for the jail time served, which has a minimum limit of 30 days but no maximum limit.
Arkansas Online Poker Laws
No. Arkansas does not have legal online casinos or poker sites. The state just approved land-based gambling expansion in Amendment 4 (Issue 4), a statewide referendum. Despite Amendment 4 being a few months old, no attempt was made to legalize online gambling. The referendum faced several lawsuits from opponents of gambling expansion in a few venues around the state, so readers should not expect Arkansas to legalize iGaming anytime soon.
Yes. Issue 4 approved sports betting, though no existing casinos have launched a sportsbook yet. When 54.1 percent of Arkansas voters voted “Yes” against the 45.9 percent who chose “No” on Amendment 4, it assured that all the existing and new land-based casinos and race tracks would have the right to launch brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Local media suggested the decision by Mississippi to legalize sportsbooks had an effect on the voters’ decision to pass their own sports wagering law. Local casino operators could argue they did not want to fall behind the neighbor to the southeast.
While Arkansas has no laws strictly approving daily fantasy sports, top DFS sites like FanDuel, DraftKings, and Fantasy Draft operate in the state. With the legalization of sports betting, gamblers can assume that daily fantasy sports regulations eventually will be passed.
Yes. Arkansas has one horse track racino (Oaklawn Park) and one dog track racino (Southland Park). Amendment 4 approved the expansion of Oaklawn Park and Southland Park from mere slots parlors into full-scale casinos. Both plan major expansion of their gaming facilities in the next few years.
Also, Amendment 4 approved two new casinos: one to be located in Pope County within 2 miles of Russellville and one to be located in Jefferson County within 2 miles of Pine Bluff. The licensing process for the Russellville casino and Pine Bluff casino should begin in the second half of 2019. Decisions on which gaming groups receive the licenses are expected late in 2019 or in the first half of 2020.
Readers might notice references in Issue 4 to casinos in Crittenden County and Garland County. Those are references to Southland Park and Oaklawn Park, respectively.
|City||Name Of Casino||Address||Phone Number||Details|
|West Memphis||Southland Park||1550 Ingram Boulevard, West Memphis, Arkansas 72301-2234||(870) 735-3670||631 Gaming Machines, Race Book|
|City||Name Of Casino||Address||Phone Number||Details|
|Hot Springs||Oaklawn Park||2705 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, Arkansas 71901-7515||(501) 623-4411||650 Gaming Machines, Race Book|
Yes. Arkansas has two legal betting tracks: Oaklawn Park and Southland Park. I placed them in the casino section above because they were approved in November 2018 to convert from race track-casinos to full casinos, but they are still operational as race tracks with pari-mutuel betting.
Oaklawn Park is a horse track ran by the Oaklawn Jockey Club, while Southland Park is a greyhound track operated by the Southland Racing Corporation. Both have an active racing schedule. Both also allow off-track betting and simulcasting.
Amendment 4 was designed to give the two race tracks a new breath of life. Each receives boosted revenues from the expanded casino operations they’ll run. The Arkansas Racing Commission also will use tax revenues from the new land-based casinos to increase the prize pool for greyhound and thoroughbred owners, which should increase the prestige and participation at those races.
No. Arkansas does not allow off-track betting facilities. Southland Park and Oaklawn Park each have simulcasting and the ability to make pari-mutuel wagers on races from around the country, but no specific off-site OTBs exist.
Arkansas legalized charitable bingo and raffles in 2007. While the Ozark State does not have as many bingo halls as states that legalized charitable bingo decades ago, the Charitable Bingo and Raffles Enabling Act of 2007 shows that the state legislature is becoming more permissive when it comes to gambling.
In many ways, the Charitable Bingo & Raffles Enabling Act was a necessary precursor to the expansion of land-based gambling through Amendment 4. As the 2018 casino gambling vote showed, the opponents of gambling remain energetic in Arkansas, so a law which allowed charitable gambling 12 years ago was an important stepping stone to commercial gambling expansion last year.
Arkansas provides players with access to more social casinos than most states. Big name social gaming apps like Slotomania, Double Down Casino, Zynga, and Big Fish Games are available for play on Facebook or in a downloadable Android or iOS app.
So is the free-play app for Southland Park’s social casino: Lucky North Casino. Southland Park is a greyhound race track and casino in West Memphis, Arkansas. Lucky North Casino is the venue’s social casino, which can be played on the official website or through a mobile app.
Finally, MyVegas is available to Arkansas social casino gamers. MyVegas is MGM Resorts’ social casino, which has the added bonus of giving players rewards points for play on the app. Players then can cash in those rewards at one of MGM Resorts’ many casinos around the country, including Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Mississippi.