Sports Betting Arkansas

The state of Arkansas also called the Natural State is one known for its conservativeness. For the longest time, the state’s lawmakers were opposed to gambling in most of its forms. However, it would appear that things are changing and the lawmakers more receptive to change. While the state has land-based casinos running actively, sportsbooks are not as common. Among other reasons is the fact the Natural state’s residents are not too much into sports, and there is also the fact that betting on sports was, until May 2018, illegal in the country. Following the lift on the sports betting ban nationwide, several states have taken up to legalizing the activity, and Arkansas is one of these states.

In November 2018, a ballot measure got approved, allowing Arkansas’ four casinos to offer gambling and sports betting legally. Online sports betting Arkansas, isn’t however legal at this time even though you will come across various offshore sites offering online sports betting in the Natural State.

We do not recommend the latter, mostly because it is unsafe. If you are interested in betting online, you could try your luck legally with greyhound and horse racing or even daily fantasy sports.

It should be noted that even with the legalization of sports betting in Arkansas, the online bit of legal sports betting, online casinos, and online poker sites are not to be expected to be legalized soon. We’ll keep you updated on the process and legislation taking place in the online sports betting Arkansas scene. Note that the final word will come from the Arkansas Racing Commission.

Online Sports Betting in Arkansas

A statewide ballot that asked voters in the Natural state whether they approved the amendment that would bring sports betting to the four pre-selected sports betting locations passed. The passing of the vote resulted in the legalization of sports betting in Arkansas.

  • The pre-selected sports betting locations include:
  • Oaklawn Racing & Gaming located in Hot Springs
  • Southland Racing & Gaming located in West Memphis
  • Casino yet to be constructed in Pope County
  • And another casino yet to be constructed in Jefferson County.

Following the passing of the vote, the two existing race tracks, Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, and Southland Racing & Gaming received their automatic licenses to offer sports betting activities. The two other pre-selected locations will have to apply for their licenses once they build the casinos.

The regulation of sports betting is the responsibility of the Arkansas Racing Commission as per the Amendment Text. The commission’s also tasked with the regulation and overseeing the licensing process for the casinos in the Natural state.

For the two casinos that are yet to be established, the Arkansas Racing Commission will charge a maximum of $250,000 for their licenses. However, the commission has a leeway and even broader role in the management of the license application process. The commission’s other role is the determination of sports betting rules.

Even though sports betting entered the books of legal betting activities in Arkansas in November 2018, the first wagers on sports were not placed immediately. The ballot measure that made sports betting legal gave the Arkansas Racing Commission time to come up with a regulation that would govern sports betting. In this case, the commission got 120 days. During this time, the commission was expected to come up with regulations on integrity, licensing, oversight, and recordkeeping, among other tasks required for the effective governing of sports betting in the Natural State.

Sports books Arkansas

The 120 days was also given to ensure that the two licensed casinos got time to build their sportsbooks, get the technology needed to get things in motion and to hire staff, among other logistics. All these are necessary logistical requirements needed for Oaklawn and Southland to get started.

The ballot measure also expects the state regulators to accept applications to run their sports betting operations by 2019 June.

To incentivize the Arkansas residents, three top casinos joined forces to ensure the legalization of sports betting.

The three casino-aligned groups: Quapaw Tribe, Cherokee Nation, and Delaware North poured $9million to push the legalization ($3.7 million, $2.3 million, and $3 million, respectively). Their actions were further aimed at the expansion of the sports betting industry in the Natural State.

These contributions played a significant role in the advertisement of the legalization of sports betting – in favor of the Arkansas Ballot Measure.

Note that the Buffalo-based company, Delaware North owns Southland. The two tribes, Cherokee and Quapaw, have expressed their interest in applying for gaming licenses.

54 percent of the Arkansas voters cast their ballots in favor of the measure, while Issue 4 explicitly incorporated sports betting as one of the legal forms of gambling in the state.


Sports Betting Tax Rates

By legalizing sports betting, the ballot measure also established the tax rate for the four casinos. The sportsbooks licensed to offer sports betting services will be charged a tax rate of 13 percent on the first $150,000,000 of a sportsbook’s net gaming income, followed by a 20 percent tax on any net gaming income above $150,000,001.

The state also plans to distribute the collected tax in the manner below:

  • 55 percent of the tax to be directed to the state’s general revenue fund
  • 5 percent of the tax directed to the city the casino/sportsbook are located. But, in cases where the sportsbook isn’t located in a city, then 19.5 percent of the tax will be directed to the county the sportsbook/ casino is located. There also exists a provision that makes for the allocation of 8 percent of the tax to the county that the sportsbook/ casino is based.
  • 5 percent of the tax goes to the Arkansas Racing Commission which distributes the money to greyhound racing and horseracing purses.

It has not yet been communicated on how the sports betting bonuses will play put in Arkansas. Most likely we will have nice and good sports bonuses to claim when playing online in Arkansas in the future.

The Arkansas Sports Betting Legalization Framework

Two federal laws played a significant role in the legalization of sports betting in the Natural State. These are the Federal Wire Act and UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act).

While the federal law striking the ban on sports betting nationwide came into effect in May 2018, the two laws above seem to have a hold on the online sports betting landscape in Arkansas.

PASPA/ The Professional and Amateur Sports Act had a 25-year hold on sports betting in the US and its strike down was a great relief. Consequently, sports betting was made legal in November 2018 in brick and mortar institutions. However, the Natural State is not close to the legalization of online sports betting thanks to the Federal Wire Act and UIGEA. The Wire Act blocks all US-based sportsbooks from accepting any online wagers, keeping the domestic market closed. On the other hand, UIGEA forbids financial institutions from processing financial transactions to and from the online gambling operators. Therefore, until the state of Arkansas passes laws that legalize online sports betting, these are the laws that will continue regulating the online sports betting scene in Arkansas.

Sports Betting – Teams to Bet On

In the Natural State, the college sports reign with residents having an easy time picking the teams to rally behind. The University of Arkansas’ Razorbacks remains the most dominant team in the state. However, some residents will be seen giving their support to the Arkansas State’s Red Wolves. Other fans, albeit few, throw their weight behind the Sun Belt Conference. There also is the minor leagues’ baseball team, The Arkansas Travelers, as well as the NCAA’S Little Rock Trojan based in the capital, Little Rock.

The State of Online Sports Betting in Arkansas

In the November 2018 ballot measure, online sports betting was not addressed. It, therefore, appears that sports betting online lies in the hands of the government as is in that of the Racing Commission. The commission’s role in sports betting online comes in from the mere fact the legislation passed ballot measure of November 2018 failed to cover the specifics on online sports betting. If anything, the ballot measure gave the commission wiggle room which they could use to legalize sports betting. Until a time when the commission decides otherwise, online sports betting remains illegal.

Despite the illegality of online sports betting, the state of Arkansas has a high number of offshore sites offering online sports betting. Their activities are not recommended.

Online Fantasy Sports (DFS) Betting

Following the declaration of online fantasy sports as being a game of skill in 2006 under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, states were given the authority to decide whether to legalize DFS or not. Arkansas is one of the states that’s legalized online DFS since it is not one of the states whose unions make all real-money wagers illegal.

Despite not acting on UIGEA’s laws sooner, the state of Arkansas recognized and legalized DFS formally in 2017. And, in a bid to remove any ambiguity in the laws, bill HB 2250 was signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson in April 2017.

Unlike laws enacted in other states, HB2250 does not specify the regulations applicable to fantasy sports, beyond defining legal DFS. The bill also enacts an 8 percent tax rate on the DFS operators.

While there exist numerous DFS operators in the Natural State, two online DFS sportsbooks stand out the most. These are Draftkings and FanDuel.

How to Participate in DFS Online

With DFS betting, you are required to draft a team of players based on a league. Every selected/ drafted player is associated with a price based on their recent performance. To limit your total spend, you get a salary to spend. You are expected to draft the best team possible within the salary cap set. Your fantasy team will accumulate points depending on the performance of your selected team/ players in the real world. You will win the contest if you earn the highest number of points.

Online Horseracing Betting in Arkansas

Oaklawn Racing and Southland Park are the two main horseracing tracks in Arkansas. These tracks hosts live sporting/ racing events, and they accept pari-mutuel wagers on their planned races.  You get to place your wagers from the tracks or online at a licensed horse racing website.

While you can place wagers online with Oaklawn racing via their website, they don’t have too many options when it comes to wagering on horse races.  For the best online betting experiences, you might want to place your wager online on TVG, Twinspires, and BetAmerica.

Note: online betting on horse betting is exempted from the federal anti-betting laws/ regulations hence legal in most states. Authorized websites accept wagers from residents. The best part is that betting on a race is as simple as selecting a preferred horse track, choosing a race, and filling out an electronic betting slip. You could credit your account using your credit card, an e-check, or money order.  So, if you live far from the racing tracks or prefer the convenience of online betting, the three sites mentioned above have you covered. The Arkansas Racing Commission regulates all activities related to betting on the races.

Online Poker

Poker, online and offline is heavily restricted in the state of Arkansas. The only place you could play a little poker is at Southland Park which has a small table room featuring Omaha cash and Texas Holdem tournaments and cash games. Other than this one place, the Natural State has enacted laws to ban all other forms of poker. The Arkansas Code has banned just about everything that doesn’t take place at an approved site or a racetrack.

Online Casinos

There are no online casinos – online casinos are illegal in Arkansas. You could, however, gamble in one of the two land-based Arkansas casinos which are attached to the race tracks. These two racinos offer games similar to video poker and blackjack

Note that the November 2018 ballot measure that legalized sports betting and electronic table games seems to have outlawed online poker across the state, criminalizing online casinos and online poker.


While the state is yet to take on bets/ wagers on basketball, football, or baseball through the land-based sportsbook, it is expected to accept its first wagers by June of 2018 or just in time for the 2019 football season. Online sports betting Arkansas is also expected to take effect in future. However, we’ll update you when things change.

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