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Gambling Laws of Arkansas Legal State of Gambling

Gambling in Arkansas finds its regulatory framework in Arkansas Code sections 5-66-101 et seq. and 23-110 et seq. Within this domain, legal avenues for online gambling encompass pari-mutuel wagering, daily fantasy sports, and AR sports betting. While online casino gambling remains prohibited by state law, viable alternatives exist. Enthusiasts can engage in real-money gameplay through offshore online casinos, providing a diverse and accessible sector for gaming. Understanding the nuances of Arkansas's gambling laws ensures that participants navigate this field with clarity, enjoying the sanctioned options available within the defined boundaries of the state's legal framework.

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Overview of Online Gambling in Arkansas

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Presently, online gambling in Arkansas is legally confined to mobile sports betting and Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). In a pivotal move in 2017, the state formally embraced and regulated DFS, ushering in an era where avid participants can indulge in their favorite fantasy contests through reputable platforms such as DraftKings and FanDuel. However, the terrain becomes more nuanced when considering the realm of online casino gaming. Arkansas has opted not to establish formal licensing or regulation for online casino platforms, prompting a segment of the populace to explore offshore options. In this domain, these offshore platforms operate within a legal gray area, existing outside explicit prohibitions. Despite this ambiguity, it's noteworthy that no Arkansas resident has ever faced legal repercussions for partaking in online casino gaming from the comfort and privacy of their own home. This complex scenario underscores the need for individuals to navigate the online gambling field with an understanding of the current legal landscape in the state.

The Legal Gambling Status in Arkansas

legalArkansas boasts a diverse array of legal gambling activities, offering residents and visitors a varied and engaging gaming landscape. From land-based casinos and sports betting to horse racing and lotteries, the state provides a broad spectrum of options for those seeking entertainment within the bounds of the law. Understanding the legal status of different gambling activities is crucial for responsible participation. Let's delve into the specifics through a comprehensive overview:

Legal Gambling Activities Illegal Gambling Activities
State-regulated land-based casinos Unlicensed online casinos
Retail and online sports betting Unregulated offshore gambling sites
Horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering Unlicensed online poker platforms
Official state lottery (Arkansas Scholarship Lottery) Unlawful sports betting operations
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) Unapproved bingo and raffle events
Charitable gambling (raffles, bingo) Unauthorized gambling establishments

Note: Regardless of the type of gambling, each activity is subject to specific regulations and age requirements. Responsible gambling practices are strongly encouraged.

 

License for Online Casinos in Arkansas

VPN IconIn Arkansas, the regulatory landscape concerning online casinos takes a distinct form. The state, as of now, does not provide licenses for online casinos under its jurisdiction. This absence of state-issued licenses has led residents to explore alternatives beyond the state's borders. Enthusiasts can opt for offshore online casino platforms, which, while not state-regulated, operate within a legal gray area. Additionally, for those seeking added privacy and flexibility, VPN-friendly casinos present another avenue. These VPN-friendly establishments allow players to access online casino services without geographical restrictions, enhancing the range of choices available to Arkansas residents. While the state does not officially endorse or regulate these options, individuals are advised to choose reputable platforms to ensure a secure and fair gaming experience.

History and Timeline for Arkansas Online Gambling

This nuanced timeline encapsulates Arkansas's evolving narrative in the realm of gambling, shaped by legislative decisions, cultural shifts, and the ongoing evolution of the state's approach to various betting activities.

  • 1874: Constitutional Prohibition of Lotteries The roots of Arkansas's regulatory framework date back to 1874 when the state constitution definitively banned lotteries, setting a foundational tone for gambling restrictions.
  • 1904: Inauguration of the First Horse Racing Track The early 20th century witnessed the establishment of Arkansas's inaugural horse racing track, reflecting an initial foray into the realm of organized betting and wagering.
  • 1907: Prohibition of Horse Racing However, just three years later, the prohibition of horse racing marked a shift in the state's stance, temporarily extinguishing the flames of equine wagering.
  • 1935: Legislative Approval and Subsequent Halts In a complex turn of events, legislative approval for horse racing in 1935 faced gubernatorial intervention, resulting in a temporary halt to the sport in both 1934 and 1935.
  • 1956: Act 46 Legalizes Horse Racing and Pari-Mutuel Wagering The mid-20th century ushered in Act 46, a legislative milestone legalizing horse racing and introducing pari-mutuel wagering in Hot Springs. Simultaneously, the Arkansas Racing Commission was established to oversee these activities.
  • 2005: Emergence of “Racinos” Fast-forwarding to 2005, Oaklawn and Southland were granted the status of “racinos,” blending horse racing with limited casino games, augmenting the state's gambling landscape.
  • 2007: Legalization of Charitable Bingo and Raffles A new chapter unfolded in 2007 as charitable bingo and raffles gained legal recognition, expanding the spectrum of permitted gambling activities.
  • 2008: Inception of the State Lottery The following year marked a transformative period with the establishment of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, providing residents with a sanctioned outlet for lottery games.
  • 2017: Advent of Daily Fantasy Sports The emergence of daily fantasy sports was embraced by state lawmakers in 2017, aligning Arkansas with the evolving landscape of online gaming.
  • 2018: Approval of Full-Fledged Casinos and Wagering In a landmark development, Issue 4, approved in 2018, paved the way for the establishment of four full-fledged casinos and the legalization of broader wagering activities.
  • 2019: Inaugural In-Person Sports Bet The inauguration of in-person sports betting in 2019 marked a significant leap forward, reflecting the state's evolving attitude towards sports wagering.
  • 2022: Approval of Mobile Sports Betting Rules The most recent milestone occurred in 2022 when the Joint Budget Committee approved the Arkansas mobile sports betting rules, signaling a contemporary embrace of digital platforms for sports wagering.

Legalization of Sports Betting in Arkansas

  • Sports Betting IconNov. 6, 2018 – Voter Approval of Issue 4 In a monumental decision, Arkansas voters approved Issue 4 on the ballot, laying the foundation for the legalization of online sports betting within the state.
  • July 1, 2019 – Inauguration of Oaklawn's Retail Sportsbook Breaking new ground, Oaklawn became the pioneer in the retail sports betting arena, setting the stage for the subsequent evolution of legal sports wagering in Arkansas.
  • Dec. 30, 2021 – Arkansas Racing Commission Approval A crucial step in the regulatory process occurred on December 30, 2021, when the Arkansas Racing Commission gave its approval to amended online sports betting rules. This marked a strategic move towards creating a robust and regulated framework for online sports wagering.
  • Feb. 22, 2022 – Joint Budget Committee Approval The momentum continued in 2022 with the Joint Budget Committee's approval of online sports betting rules and regulations on February 22, solidifying the legal groundwork for the burgeoning industry.
  • March 5, 2022 – Southland Racing Casino's Online Sportsbook Launch Southland Racing Casino etched its name in history by becoming the first operator to launch a legal online sportsbook in Arkansas through its Betly platform. Although initially limited without mobile online betting, this marked a significant leap forward.
  • May 10, 2022 – Saracen Casino Resort's Online Sports Betting Application On May 10, 2022, Saracen Casino Resort added another layer to Arkansas's online sports betting landscape with the launch of the BetSaracen mobile application, further diversifying the options available to eager sports enthusiasts.
  • Sept. 2, 2022 – Oaklawn Sports Goes Live The momentum reached its peak on September 2, 2022, with the inauguration of Oaklawn Sports, Arkansas's third online sportsbook. This event marked a significant milestone in the accessibility and availability of legal online sports betting options for residents.

Legal Gambling Forms in Arkansas

Arkansas offers a diverse array of legal gambling forms, catering to a spectrum of interests within the boundaries of state regulations. Land-based casinos, governed by strict rules and regulations, provide a venue for traditional casino games such as slot machines, blackjack, and poker. The state's foray into sports betting has materialized through both retail and online platforms, allowing residents to legally wager on a wide range of sports events. The historical significance of horse racing endures, with the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs serving as a prominent venue for live horse racing and associated wagering activities. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, established in 2008, presents an official avenue for lottery enthusiasts, featuring a variety of games including scratch-offs and multi-state lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions. Additionally, the legalization of daily fantasy sports (DFS) in 2017 has provided yet another sanctioned avenue for gaming enthusiasts. Amid this diverse landscape, individuals can also engage in charitable gambling activities, such as raffles and bingo, under the regulation of the state. It is essential for participants to familiarize themselves with the specific regulations and age requirements associated with each form of legal gambling and to approach these activities responsibly.

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Arkansas Online Casinos

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Arkansas Online Poker

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Arkansas Bingo

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Arkansas Lotteries

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Arkansas Parimutuel Betting

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Illegal

Arkansas Prohibited Gambling Activities

Understand the boundaries of prohibited gambling activities in Arkansas. Stay informed about activities deemed illegal to maintain a responsible and legal gambling environment. Adhering to regulations ensures a secure and enjoyable experience for all participants.

Check Out These Online Casinos Available in Arkansas

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Legalization of Bingo in Arkansas

bingo iconThe history of bingo in Arkansas unfolds as a fascinating journey, rooted in the early 20th century when it first emerged in local community centers and churches as a social and fundraising activity. Its evolution mirrors the broader trends in US gambling laws, where games like bingo occupy a distinctive space due to their social and charitable functions. The pivotal year of 2007 marked the official legalization of bingo and raffles for charitable fundraising, sparking a surge in popularity and aligning with the broader trend of regulating charitable gambling across various states. Initially confined to physical halls, the digital age ushered in online bingo platforms, resonating particularly with a younger demographic. Despite legal debates surrounding online gaming, offshore platforms extend bingo's reach to the state's residents, reflecting Arkansas's dynamic relationship with this beloved game. However, the legal stance on bingo in Arkansas has faced shifts, with 2007's Act 388 legalizing it for charitable purposes. While this legislation brought clarity, controversies persist, especially concerning online and electronic variants. Ongoing debates and legal interpretations highlight the need for comprehensive legislation to address the evolving landscape of bingo in Arkansas.

Legalization of Blackjack in Arkansas

blackjackAs of the current legal framework in Arkansas, blackjack is not sanctioned within the state's gambling regulations. While Arkansas offers a diverse array of legal gambling activities, including land-based casinos with various games, blackjack has not been included in the list of approved offerings. The legal landscape in Arkansas does not extend to licensing or regulating blackjack tables, whether in physical casinos or online platforms. As with many states, gambling laws can undergo changes over time, so it's advisable to stay updated on any developments in the legal status of blackjack within the state. For enthusiasts of this classic card game, exploring other legal avenues or jurisdictions may be necessary to enjoy blackjack legally.

Legalization of Lotteries in Arkansas

lottery

Lotteries have become an integral part of Arkansas's gaming landscape, with a history that reflects the evolving attitudes toward various forms of gambling. The prohibition of lotteries in the Arkansas Constitution in 1874 marked an early stance against such games. However, a transformative shift occurred in 2008 when the state approved the creation of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. This marked the inception of an official state lottery, providing residents with a legal and regulated avenue for participating in lottery games. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery encompasses a variety of games, ranging from scratch-offs to multi-state lotteries such as Powerball and Mega Millions. The proceeds generated from these lotteries primarily contribute to scholarships and educational initiatives, showcasing a strategic alignment of gaming activities with societal benefits. The legalization of lotteries in Arkansas reflects a nuanced approach, balancing entertainment options with the goal of supporting educational endeavors through responsible gambling practices.

Arkansas Parimutuel Betting

horse racing icon

Arkansas embraces the tradition of parimutuel betting, a form of wagering that extends beyond traditional casino games. This betting method involves individuals placing bets on various events, with the odds and final payouts determined by the total pool of wagers on a given outcome. Pari-mutuel wagering is not limited to horse racing; it also extends to dog racing, although the latter has experienced a decline in popularity over the years. The regulatory framework for parimutuel betting in Arkansas has deep historical roots, dating back to the legalization of horse racing in 1956 through Act 46. The establishment of the Arkansas Racing Commission accompanied this milestone, ensuring the proper oversight and regulation of these activities. Pari-mutuel betting provides an avenue for enthusiasts to engage in a dynamic and interactive form of gambling, contributing to the diverse tapestry of legal wagering options available within the state.

Arkansas Prohibited Gambling Activities

Illegal

Arkansas maintains a clear stance on prohibited gambling activities, delineating activities that fall outside the boundaries of legal and regulated forms of gaming. Unsanctioned and unauthorized gambling activities, such as unlicensed online casinos and sports betting operations, are explicitly prohibited. Commercial bingo operations also remain illegal, highlighting the distinction between regulated charitable bingo and unauthorized commercial ventures. The state's conservative approach to gambling extends to unlicensed online poker platforms, which are not permitted under current regulations. Additionally, the legality of electronic bingo machines, bearing resemblance to slot machines, has been a subject of legal contention, emphasizing the state's commitment to defining and enforcing boundaries within the gambling landscape. As Arkansas continues to evolve in its approach to gambling, clear delineations between prohibited and permitted activities are essential to maintaining a responsible and well-regulated gaming environment.

Gambling in Arkansas – Licensing, Tax and Fees

According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), the structure governing licensing, taxation, and fees for commercial gaming in Arkansas is meticulously designed to uphold transparency and regulation within the industry. In the realm of licensing, operators such as the Southland and Oakland gaming facilities benefit from an exemption from additional casino licensing fees. On the other hand, applicants contending for the two available casino licenses must undergo a rigorous process, including the payment of an application fee of up to $250,000 to secure the privilege of operating casinos. The renewal of casino licenses is mandatory every ten years, with a renewal fee set at $10,000. Additionally, those seeking licenses as manufacturers or distributors of gaming equipment, along with entities involved in the service industry related to casino gaming, face specific application fees of $6,000 and annual renewal fees of $1,000.

tax icon

Moving on to the taxation framework, casino gaming in Arkansas is subject to a tiered tax rate as stipulated by Rule 6.030. A 13 percent tax is levied on the first $150 million of net casino gaming receipts, while any amount exceeding this threshold incurs a higher tax rate of 20 percent. The distribution of tax revenue from Arkansas casinos is carefully allocated, with 55 percent directed to the Arkansas General Revenue Fund, 19.5 percent to the Casino Host City, 17.5 percent to the Arkansas Racing Commission Purse and Awards Fund, and 8 percent to the Casino Host County.

Operators in Arkansas also enjoy the flexibility to offer promotional items to players, provided they adhere to the requirements outlined in Rule 12.210. As for the taxation of gambling winnings, Arkansas treats such winnings as taxable income, with the applicable rate determined by the individual's overall income. Notably, federal taxation comes into play when a player's winnings reach $600 or more, and the winnings are at least 300 times the wager. In such cases, the winnings, minus the wager, must be reported as income and are subject to a federal tax rate of 24 percent. This comprehensive regulatory framework, according to the American Gaming Association, underscores Arkansas's commitment to maintaining a well-regulated and revenue-generating commercial gaming industry.

Important Questions for Gambling Laws of Arkansas

Is online gambling legal in Arkansas?

As of now, Arkansas has legalized certain forms of online gambling, specifically in the realms of mobile sports betting and Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog races is also permitted. However, online casino gambling within the state is not legally sanctioned. Despite this, residents have the option to access offshore online casinos for real-money gameplay. It's crucial to be aware of the legal nuances and choose reputable offshore platforms when engaging in online gambling to ensure a secure and fair gaming experience. As gambling laws can evolve, it's advisable to stay informed about any regulatory changes in the state.

What is the minimum age requirement for engaging in online casinos, sports betting, and poker in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, the minimum age requirement for various forms of gambling activities varies. For online casinos and sports betting, participants must be at least 21 years old to legally engage in these activities. This age restriction aligns with the legal requirements for entering land-based casinos in the state. As for poker, the minimum age for participation is typically 21 as well. It's crucial to adhere to these age requirements, as violating them can lead to legal consequences. Always verify the specific age restrictions on the platform you're using, as they may vary between different online operators. Responsible gambling practices include ensuring that you meet the age requirements for the specific type of gambling activity you wish to participate in.

How does parimutuel betting work in Arkansas?

Parimutuel betting in Arkansas operates as a dynamic wagering system commonly associated with horse and dog racing. Here's a step-by-step breakdown of how parimutuel betting works in the state:

  1. Wager Placement: Participants place bets on a particular race, selecting the horse or dog they believe will win, place, or show in the specified event.
  2. Pooling of Bets: All bets placed by participants are pooled together into a collective fund.
  3. Odds Calculation: The odds for each participant (horse or dog) are dynamically calculated based on the total amount wagered on that participant and the overall size of the betting pool.
  4. Deduction of Taxes and Fees: Before payouts are determined, a portion of the betting pool is deducted to cover taxes, fees, and the racetrack's commission.
  5. Payout Calculation: The remaining funds in the pool are distributed among the winning bets. The size of the payout is influenced by the odds at the time the race starts.
  6. Distribution of Winnings: Winners receive their payouts after the race, with the amounts depending on the type of bet placed (win, place, or show) and the final position of the selected participant.

What types of gambling are legally permissible in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, several forms of gambling are legally permissible under the existing regulations. These include:

  • Pari-Mutuel Wagering: Betting on horse and dog races is allowed at authorized racetracks, and the state regulates this form of gambling through the Arkansas Racing Commission.
  • Mobile Sports Betting: Arkansas has legalized mobile sports betting, allowing residents to wager on a variety of sports events through state-regulated applications like Oaklawn Sports and BetSaracen.
  • Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Since 2017, Arkansas residents have had the legal option to participate in Daily Fantasy Sports contests on platforms such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
  • Charitable Gambling: Non-profit organizations can host raffles and bingo games for fundraising purposes, provided they adhere to specific rules and regulations. Charitable gambling is regulated by the state.
  • Lottery: Arkansas operates an official state lottery known as the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. This includes various games such as scratch-offs and participation in multi-state lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions.

Which regulatory bodies oversee gambling activities in Arkansas?

Several regulatory bodies oversee gambling activities in Arkansas to ensure fair play, compliance with regulations, and the integrity of the gaming industry. The primary regulatory bodies include:

  • Arkansas Racing Commission: Responsible for regulating and overseeing pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog races in the state. The commission ensures the fairness and integrity of racing events, issues licenses, and enforces compliance with racing regulations.
  • Arkansas Scholarship Lottery: Oversees the state's official lottery, including various games such as scratch-offs and participation in multi-state lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery focuses on generating revenue for educational initiatives.
  • Alcoholic Beverage Control Division: While not exclusively focused on gambling, this division plays a role in regulating the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at establishments that may also offer certain forms of gambling.
Gabriela Kirilova

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Gabriela Kirilova | Content Specialist/Slot Expert

Gabriela Kirilova is a senior gaming analyst at CasinoLandia. If it looks like a slot, rings like a slot, or spins like a slot, then Gabriela will know about it. She is our Chief Slot Reviewer, and Analyzer.
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