At this point, Arkansas sports betting is legal only in the state’s three casinos. However, the new year may offer hope for sports bettors wanting the convenience of online betting and mobile sports betting.
Towards the end of 2021, The Arkansas Racing Commission put into place a new set of rules in order to manage online betting in Arkansas. It is hoped that legal online betting may become a possibility in 2022.
In other regulated states, more than 90% of sports betting happens online, so it stands to reason that the state might seek to increase its sports betting revenue by legal sports betting online in the not too distant future.
Arkansas Sports Betting To Date:
- 5th January 2022: The Arkansas Racing Commission passed a set of rules to authorize Arkansas online sports betting.
- 26th January 2022: A rule on the change of mobile sports betting was pulled from the Arkansas Legislative Council subcommittee agenda and it will not be discussed further until at least February.
Is Any Sports Betting Legal in Arkansas?
Yes, it is. Although online and mobile sports betting isn’t regulated, land-based sports betting has been legal since November 2018. However, there was no provision made for the legalization of online sports betting. However, this may be legalized in 2022.
When Will Online Betting Be Allowed in Arkansas?
With any luck, online sports betting should be launched in 2022, given that the Arkansas Racing Commission voted through a set of regulations regarding the governance of online sports betting at the end of 2021. This would mean making not only online sports betting legal, but could also see the introduction of Arkansas mobile sports betting.
The only issue that might prevent this from happening would be the subcommittee. Proposed rules proposed a very generous tax structure for new betting markets. As such, all stakeholders involved will likely want to get it put into place before two main betting events – the Super Bowl and March Madness, but with the current delays, this might not happen.
Future Possible Arkansas Sportsbook Apps
Should they launch mobile sports betting in the upcoming year, there are going to be plenty of excellent mobile betting apps that will look to open their markets in Arkansas. The rules for online sports betting in Arkansas would allow for up to eight online sportsbooks to open.
Here are some that we might look forward to in the future…
- Caesars Sportsbook
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- Betly Sportsbook
- TwinSpires Sportsbook
Arkansas Sports Betting: The Basics
The basics are this – Arkansas sports betting is legal right now – and has been since it was voted in, in November 2018 – making retail sports betting legal only. This will now be monitored, regulated and governed by the Arkansas Racing Commission. However, this did not stretch to online wagering.
Having said that, mobile sports betting could be legalized as early as 2022 given the Arkansas Racing Commission’s adoption of new rules. These rules mean the Arkansas casinos can now partner with up to two mobile sports betting brands. In return, each bookmaker will need to pay 51% of its sports betting revenue as tax to the government.
However, there have been concerns that have been relayed to the racing commission that this was overly steep. The state casinos have used the New York model to help demonstrate that paying that much tax was simply untenable and unworkable.
Where You Can Bet on Sports in Arkansas
Currently, it is land-based only – and there are three sportsbooks available in the state. These can be found at the three state casinos. There is another casino that is currently being built, which will also include a retail sportsbook.
1. Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort
The most historic and prestigious of all Arkansas gambling houses is Oaklawn. It has been used as a top horse racing venue for over 100 years. Moreover, this is where the Arkansas Derby is run. This is a Grade 1 thoroughbred race that has a prize purse of more than $1 million. This was the very first gambling facility in the state that accepted sports bets, officially launching its sportsbook in July 2019.
2. Southland Casino Racing
Alongside Oakland, this is the other gambling facility in the state which offers punters to watch and wager on horse racing. However, this has a far less formal approach to sports betting than Oakland. Although it is a full-service sportsbook, it is located in the Southland sports bar, with more food, drink and entertainment options available.
3. Saracen Casino Resort
This is one of the few US tribal commercial casinos. It is owned by the Quapaw Nation, which is a legally recognized tribe in Oklahoma. Although there isn’t actually a physical sportsbook located at the casino itself, there is a sports betting kiosk in the annex (convenience store) which is on the other side of the street.
4. River Valley Casino
This isn’t yet fully built, but this is the fourth that is currently under construction. The casino is due to open at an undisclosed location in Pope County yet shortly. Gulf Casino Partnership owns the project – alongside its two casinos in Mississippi. Although there aren’t many details available yet, it might include a full sportsbook when it opens its doors as part of its service.
Popular Sports to Bet on in Arkansas
In the land-based sports betting venues, you can wager on practically anything, as there are no real restrictions. However, betting on virtual sports and political elections are prohibited. The most popular sport to bet on in Arkansas – along with every other US state is football. However, other sports you can bet on include:
- Mixed martial arts (MMA)
and plenty more.
Arkansas Professional Sports Teams to Bet On:
Arkansas is not home to any professional major league sports teams, but it does have some decent college sports teams. Here are some of the popular teams to wager on for Arkansas bettors:
Although Arkansas has no home-based NFL teams, Fans of NHL betting in Arkansas tend to back the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs, given the geographical location.
Unfortunately, Arkansas will never be home to any National Basketball Association teams, fans of NBA betting in Arkansas can put their support behind the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks.
Although the state doesn’t have any Major League Baseball teams, they do have the Arkansas Travelers, a Minor League Baseball team located in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Fans of Major League Basketball betting, however, can throw their support behind teams including Kansas City Royals, the St Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers.
Again, there are no professional NHL teams based in Arkansas. However, fans of NHL betting in the state can support teams such as the Dallas Stars and St Louis Blues.
Arkansas is home to numerous NCAA sports teams, including
- Arkansas Razorbacks
- Arkansas State Red Wolves
- Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans
- Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions
- Central Arkansas Bears
Arkansas Daily Fantasy Sports
Residents of Arkansas have been able to legally play Daily Fantasy sports since it was signed off in April 2017. There are now some excellent Daily Fantasy Sports providers available in the state including FanDuel and DraftKings.
The law, introduced in 2017 doesn’t come with many protections or restrictions for its customers. However, all Daily Fantasy Sports betting sites are required to pay 8% in tax.
Horse Betting in Arkansas
As with other sports, horse racing betting is also legal in Arkansas – and this is the case for love and online horse race bets. Indeed, one of the most prestigious horse races in the US is run at Arkansas – the Arkansas Derby, which is run at Oaklawn Park every April. This 1 1/8 mile dirt race sees three-year-old thoroughbreds racing to win part of the $1.25 million prize pool.
However, you don’t need to head down to Oaklawn Park or head out of state to bet on the race. The Arkansas laws allow residents to bet on the race using online horse betting sites, such as TVG, which doubles as a broadcasting network and betting site fully dedicated to horse racing.
This state is also home to one of the few greyhound tracks that are still active in the US. Between January to September, greyhounds race at Southland Casino Racing, offering the same betting opportunities as horse racing.
Arkansas Sports Betting Timeline
When it comes to sports betting, Arkansas has been a slow burner. Back in November 2018, voters approved sports betting. However, it wasn’t until July 2019 that Oaklawn accepted its first wager. Since this point, it has remained an in-person only, with no move towards online betting approved yet.
However, it does appear that it may well be on its way, and hopefully, at least by the end of 2022, residents of the state will be able to wager online as well as in-person.
Voters approved the introduction of sports betting at the state casinos as a step towards the expansion of gambling. However, there was no provision made for online sports betting – with all wagers having to be made in-person. This initiative also called for the introduction of two new casinos, both with an integrated sportsbook. Since then, the Saracen Casino Resort has opened and the River Valley Casino in Pope County is still under construction.
It was in July 2019 that Oaklawn Racing Casino took its first legal sports bet in the history of the state. The very first wager was a $5 bet on the Dallas Cowboys made by Oaklawn’s General Manager, Wayne Smith. Oaklawn enjoyed a six-month monopoly in the state.
The second sports betting facility opened in October – the Saracen Casino Annex, which offered just a kiosk for wagers, which is how it has remained to this day.
It was in 2019 that lawmakers started to start thinking more about making changes to the sports betting law to include online betting. Although State Senator Will Bond introduced SB 669 to allow licensed on-site electronic bets on athletic events, it didn’t gain much traction and faded out in just one month.
It was in January of 2020 that the Southland Casino Racing accepted its first bet. However, timing was not on the casino’s side. Not long after opening, it was forced to close down due to pandemic concerns – not opening again until September.
There were no further bills or legislative motions as Arkansas lawmakers only meet every two years.
This was a pretty static year for sports betting in Arkansas. In-person sports betting continued to be allowed in the three state casinos that had been opened – and the building of the fourth casino in Pope County continued. However, there was no firm date set for the opening of either the casino or its sports betting facility.
Nothing really happened of note in Arkansas until the end of December 2021, when the Arkansas Racing Commission passed a set of rules regarding the regulation and management of online sports betting. Those rules included seriously hefty tax structures mirroring that of New York City as well as the opportunity for up to eight legal online sportsbooks to start accepting wagers.
The rules, as set out by the Arkansas Racing Committee at the end of 2021 were passed on to the Arkansas Legislative subcommittee for a final review. Depending on what happens here, online sports betting may go on to receive the go-ahead to submit license applications. It is hoped that online sports betting will launch sometime in 2022, preferably early in the year, but it may be subject to delays given the decisions made in January.
Arkansas Sports Betting FAQs
Who Oversees Sports Betting in Arkansas?
Sports betting is overseen and regulated by the Arkansas Racing Commission, which would also be responsible for monitoring and legislating online sports betting. This acts as the oversight agency for any gambling in Arkansas and is currently pushing to legalize online and mobile betting in the state.
What is the Legal Sports Betting Age in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, you need to be at least 21 years old to participate in gambling and sports betting.