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Arkansas Casinos & Gambling

Arkansas Regulated Gambling:

Pari-Mutuel/Horse Racing 1935

Charity Gaming 2007

Lotteries 2008

Commercial Casinos (including sports betting) 2018

Fantasy Sports/Daily Fantasy Sports 2019

Gambling Age in Arkansas:

Commercial Casinos (including sports betting) 21+

Pari-Mutuel/Horse Racing/Charity Gaming/Lotteries/Daily Fantasy Sports 18

Arkansas Land-Based Facilities:

Commercial Casinos 4

Arkansas

Arkansas Gambling Overview

Known as the ‘Natural State,’ Arkansas is located in the south-central United States, home to more than 3,000,000 people. Arkansas gambling laws have been historically restrictive but have been slightly relaxed since 2018.

Lotteries, charity gaming, fantasy sports/daily fantasy sports, land-based casinos (including non-mobile sports betting), pari-mutuel wagering, and horse racing in Arkansas are legal.

Lotteries

Lottery tickets can only be purchased for cash from authorized retailers in Arkansas. State tickets cannot be purchased online or through the mail. However, interstate lottery tickets such as for the Mega Millions and Powerball are available for purchase online.

Sports Betting

Sports betting are permitted at land-based sites only. Although there are no plans to allow mobile gambling on sports, the opportunity cost of lost revenue may cause the state to rethink its position.

Fantasy Sports & Daily Fantasy Sports

Fantasy Sports and Daily Fantasy Sports have been legal in Arkansas since 2017 after being ruled as not constituting gambling. This means that fantasy sports providers like FanDuel and DraftKings are free to offer their products to punters in Arkansas.

Charity Gaming in Arkansas

Charitable gaming in Arkansas is permitted, which includes raffles, bingos, and other games of chance. Each requires one of two possible Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration licenses: Class I or Class II. A temporary raffle license requires a Class II license. Prizes must not exceed $5,000 and must be donated. A bingo license requires a Class I license.

Horse Racing and Pari-Mutuel

Pari-mutuels and race betting, simulcast or live, on greyhounds or horses are governed by two separate laws: § 23-110-101 et seq and § 23-111-101 et seq, respectively.

Land-Based Casinos in Arkansas

In April 2019, the first two state-licensed casinos appeared in Arkansas after a November 2018 referendum. Here, voters approved an Arkansas Constitutional amendment to allow four casinos.

Arkansas currently has three commercial casinos, plus a fourth in construction as of the end of January 2021. However, there are no tribal casinos in the state.

Casinos Address Website
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort 2705 Central Ave. Hot Springs, AR 71901 www.oaklawn.com
Southland Gaming & Racing 1550 N. Ingram Blvd. West Memphis, AR 72301 www.southlandcasino.com
Saracen Casino 1 Saracen Resort Drive, Pine Bluff, AR 71601 (Jefferson County) www.saracenresort.com
River Valley Casino (still in construction) River Valley Casino Resort –  Russellville, Ar (Pope County) www.rivervalleycasino.com

State of Arkansas Gambling Laws

The River Valley Casino in Pope County, which was approved in 2018, remains in construction due to delays arising from legal challenges. A competing Cherokee Nation bid for the fourth casino was graded poorly by Commissioner Butch Rice. On January 27, 2021, the Arkansas Racing Commission determined that the commissioner was biased but decided not to overturn the decision.

Arkansas Gambling History

In the original Arkansas Constitution of 1874, the only recognized form of gambling was lotteries, and it was prohibited. As lotteries are undefined, this allowed horserace wagering until 1907, when a bill was passed to outlaw it. There were attempts in 1915 and 1929 to legalize horseracing again, but these were vetoed both times after bills were passed.

Finally, in 1935 Arkansas legislature passed Act 46 to legalize pari-mutuel betting on horse races in Hot Springs, Garland. Act 191 legalized pari-mutuel betting and greyhound racing and gave local counties the power to approve and license greyhound racing venues.

Little changed until 2005 where Act 1151 was passed to allow cities and counties to decide whether to allow electronic games of skill at horseracing and greyhound venues of existing facilities only.

The idea of a statewide lottery took off in 2006 when then Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter spearheaded legislation to create a lottery system. This was through a constitutional amendment voted on in 2008 by a margin of approximately 2 to 1, becoming known as Amendment 87. The proceeds would go towards funding educational scholarships.

In 2007, charitable gaming was legalized in Arkansas, which included 140+ organizations.

It was quiet for almost a decade before the 2017 General Assembly passed Acts 1075, allowing daily fantasy and paid fantasy sports from providers like FanDuel and DraftKings.

In 2018, the US Supreme Court struck down The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which prohibited sports gambling in almost all states. States were now free to determine whether or not to allow sports gambling. When put to a voter referendum in 2018, Arkansans voted to approve a constitutional amendment that would allow commercial casinos, including sports betting, in Hot Springs, West Memphis, Russellville (Poker County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County).

A 2020 proposal that would add an additional 16 casinos to a November 3 general election ballot was refused despite a petition with close to 100,000 signatures.

Arkansas Gambling FAQ

 

Are Tribal Casinos or Commercial Casinos legal in Arkansas?

Yes, 4 commercial casinos in Arkansas were legalized in 2018. However, there are no tribal casinos in Arkansas.

Is state lotteries or interstate lotteries legal in Arkansas?

Both Arkansas lotteries and interstate lotteries are legal. State lotteries must be purchased for cash from an authorized retailer, but interstate lotteries can be purchased online.

Is sports betting legal in Arkansas?

Yes, sports betting is legal but only at land-based facilities. At the present time, mobile sports betting is not permitted.

What gambling forms in Arkansas are legal?

Legal forms of gambling in Arkansas include charity gaming, commercial casinos, pari-mutuel & race betting, lotteries, land-based sports betting, and fantasy sports/daily fantasy sports.

Is online gambling legal in Arkansas?

Online gambling, including mobile sports betting, online casinos, and online poker, are illegal in Arkansas. However, fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports are allowed. State and interstate lotteries such as Mega Millions and Powerball are also permitted.

Is charity gaming legal in Arkansas?

Charity gaming involving raffles, bingo, or games of chance are legal provided they are licensed by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

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