Arkansas Gambling Laws 2023. Unveiling the Truth & Potential Opportunities

Arkansas Gambling Laws have been subject to substantial evolution, reflecting the shifting societal attitudes towards this pastime in the diverse state. As a specialist in the gambling field, I’ve noted that Arkansas permits a range of land-based gambling activities, including dog and horse racing, three brick-and-mortar casinos, and several charitable games. In addition, the state lottery is open for residents to participate in. Nonetheless, there are age restrictions in place, with 18 being the legal age for lottery and racing, and 21 for casino gambling.

These laws create a balance between Arkansas’s rich gambling history and the necessary modern regulations. They incorporate both traditional and contemporary forms of gambling, but they are dynamic and continually adapting to societal changes. Therefore, it’s essential for residents and visitors to stay informed about the most recent developments in Arkansas Gambling Laws. As long as they adhere strictly to these rules and regulations, they can enjoy a safe and responsible gambling experience.

Arkansas Gambling Laws

Overview of Arkansas Gambling Laws

  • ๐ŸŽฒ General Gambling Status in Arkansas: As of 2023, most forms of gambling are illegal in the state of Arkansas, with the exception of horse and greyhound racing tracks that allow pari-mutuel betting. ๐Ÿ‡
  • ๐Ÿ’ป Online Gambling: Online gambling, including sports betting, casino games, and poker, is currently illegal in Arkansas. โŒ
  • ๐Ÿˆ Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): DFS was legalized in 2017 and is popular in the state, as it’s not defined as gambling under Arkansas law. โœ…
  • ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ Lottery Status: A decision on the legalization of the lottery is yet to be determined (TBD). The minimum age to purchase a lottery ticket is 18 years. ๐Ÿšง
  • ๐Ÿ”„ Changes in Legislation: There were changes to land-based casino laws in 2018, with citizens voting to allow four land-based casinos. This change is still in progress. Changes to online gambling laws haven’t been announced. ๐Ÿ“œ
  • ๐Ÿ“š History: Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing was legalized in 1929, greyhound racing in 1957, and the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Act was passed in 2009. In 2018, voters agreed to grant four land-based casino licenses. ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ
  • ๐Ÿ’ธ Taxes: The tax on gambling winnings in Arkansas is 3%. ๐Ÿ’ฐ
  • ๐Ÿ“ˆ Future Regulations: As per the 2018 election, four casinos are expected to open in Arkansas. Online gambling laws may change, but no official announcements have been made as of 2023. ๐Ÿ”ฎ

Land-Based and Online Gambling in Arkansas

In Arkansas, gambling is regulated by state laws, which govern land-based gambling venues as well as online gambling platforms. The state has made it legal for three land-based casinos to operate, with a fourth license up for grabs, allowing them to offer an array of games such as slot machines, poker, and blackjack. Additionally, horse racing, greyhound racing, and electronic games of skill have been legal for some time now.

Land-Based Gambling

The landscape of land-based gambling in Arkansas is fairly dynamic, particularly with the rise of Las Vegas-style casinos. These establishments include the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort located in Hot Springs, the Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, and the Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff.

Each of these establishments provides patrons with a broad spectrum of gaming options. This includes traditional table games such as blackjack and roulette, a myriad of slot machines, and the increasingly popular live poker. Additionally, each of these casinos houses sportsbooks, allowing for legal sports betting. These land-based casinos collectively represent the state’s commitment to provide regulated, safe, and diverse gambling options to its residents and tourists alike. While enjoying these facilities, patrons are also reminded to engage in responsible gambling.

Online Gambling

Online gambling in Arkansas has witnessed a degree of liberalization, allowing residents to partake in certain forms of regulated online betting activities. Sports betting and daily fantasy sports are legal and have become increasingly popular. Furthermore, Arkansans can place online wagers on horse races, following the state’s longstanding tradition of horse racing.

However, it’s critical to note that online casino gambling, including games such as poker, blackjack, and slots, remains prohibited under state law. The nuances of these regulations necessitate that individuals in Arkansas stay informed and gamble responsibly, adhering to the legal stipulations surrounding online gambling activities.

Age Restrictions for Gambling in Arkansas

Following age regulations is crucial to promoting responsible gambling practices. The required minimum age for various gambling activities in Arkansas differs, as outlined below:

Gambling ActivityMinimum Age RequirementAdditional Information
Casino Gambling21 years oldOnly individuals aged 21 or above can participate in casino gambling in Arkansas.
Pari-Mutuel Betting18 years oldThose who are 18 or older can place bets on horse racing and other pari-mutuel events.
Lottery Participation18 years oldStarting at the age of 18, Arkansas residents can take part in the state lottery and buy lottery tickets.

Complying with these age limits is not only a legal requirement, but it also encourages a secure and responsible gambling atmosphere.

Gambling History in Arkansas

Gambling has been a part of Arkansas’s history for several decades, with notable changes in legislation leading to a significant growth in the number of legal gambling establishments over the recent years. The state has seen a continuous evolution in its gambling landscape, driven by socio-economic factors, legal considerations, and the introduction of new casinos in neighboring states, which have impacted the local gambling industry.

The table below provides a timeline of significant events in the history of gambling in Arkansas:


Oaklawn Park opened in Hot Springs as a horse racing venue, marking the start of legalized gambling in Arkansas.


Southland Greyhound Park, a dog racing track, opened in West Memphis.


Act 1151 passed, allowing “electronic games of skill” at racetracks, essentially turning them into racinos.


The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery was established, providing various lottery games.


Amendment 100 passed, allowing the establishment of four full-fledged, Vegas-style casinos in the state.


The last of the three current casinos, Saracen Casino Resort, opened its doors.

The advent of these significant events has led to an expansion in the scope of legal gambling in Arkansas, from horse and dog racing to casinos and state-run lotteries, reflecting the state’s evolving attitudes towards gambling. The impact of these changes has been profound, influencing not only the local economy but also the societal perception of gambling in the state.

Early 20th Century and Beyond

Since the early 20th century, gambling in Arkansas mainly revolved around two racetracks: Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis. Both venues have expanded over the years to include electronic games of skill and full-fledged casino operations. 

The Impact of the 90s

The 1990s marked a period of change as new casinos began to emerge in neighboring states, thereby attracting Arkansas gamblers across the border. The lost revenue led to a push for casino legalization, which ultimately saw Arkansas transform its gambling landscape by legalizing more forms of gambling, including sports betting. 

Arkansas Gambling Institutions

Arkansas is home to several gambling institutions, including three land-based casinos and two racetracks.

Casinos in Arkansas

The three legal land-based casinos in Arkansas, each of these casinos provides a diverse array of gaming options, inclusive of slot machines, poker tables, and facilities for sports betting.

  • Live Thoroughbred Racing: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming is known for its live thoroughbred horse racing, particularly during its annual racing season from January to May. The racetrack is nationally renowned and hosts significant events, including the Arkansas Derby, which has been a key stepping stone for horses competing in the prestigious Kentucky Derby.
  • Casino Gaming: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming offers a wide array of electronic games of skill and table games for its patrons. As of last update, they have more than 1,300 slot machines and numerous table games including blackjack, poker, and roulette. The casino provides both high-stakes games and options for more casual gamblers.
  • Dining and Entertainment: Oaklawn has several dining options for guests, ranging from casual eateries to fine dining restaurants. The casino also features sports bars where patrons can watch various live sports events. Furthermore, Oaklawn often hosts live music and other entertainment events, contributing to a lively and engaging atmosphere for visitors.

  • Greyhound Racing: Southland Park Gaming and Racing is one of the most popular destinations for greyhound racing in the United States. They offer a live racing season with numerous races throughout the week. Additionally, they offer simulcast racing where patrons can bet on horse and greyhound races from around the country.
  • Casino Gaming: Southland Park offers a wide array of gaming options. As of last update, they boasted over 2,000 gaming machines, including slots and electronic table games such as blackjack and poker. They also feature a live poker room for more competitive play.
  • Dining and Entertainment: Southland Park provides a range of dining and entertainment options. There are several eateries and restaurants on the premises that cater to a variety of tastes. These include casual dining options, buffets, and more upscale dining experiences. In terms of entertainment, Southland Park frequently hosts live music and other special events to enhance the guest experience.

  • Casino Gaming: Saracen Casino Resort offers a wide array of gaming experiences. As of last update, they featured over 2,000 slot machines and numerous table games, including blackjack, poker, roulette, and craps. This wide range of gaming options is designed to cater to the tastes of both casual and more serious gamblers.
  • Accommodation: The Saracen Casino Resort, as the name suggests, also features a luxurious hotel. The resort offers well-appointed rooms and suites designed for comfort and convenience, providing a perfect place to relax and recharge after a day of gaming and entertainment.
  • Dining and Entertainment: Saracen Casino Resort features multiple dining options, including casual dining, fine dining, and buffet restaurants. Their cuisine caters to a wide variety of tastes and preferences. In terms of entertainment, the casino often hosts live music and special events to enhance the overall guest experience.

Sports Betting Venues

The aforementioned casinos also serve as sports betting venues. Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, Southland Casino Racing, and Saracen Casino Resort all offer legal sports betting, providing gamblers a variety of sports to wager on, including football, basketball, baseball, and more. 

Aside from casinos, Arkansas also permits other forms of gambling, including lotteries and charitable games.

Arkansas Lotteries

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, established in 2009, offers several games like Mega Millions, Powerball, and various instant games. All profits from the lottery are dedicated to providing scholarships and grants to Arkansas residents enrolled in public and private nonprofit two-year and four-year colleges and universities within the state. 

Charitable Gaming

In Arkansas, charitable gaming is legal, and organizations such as nonprofits and churches often hold games of bingo and raffles to raise funds. However, the organization must be licensed by the state and follow specific regulations to ensure that the gaming is truly charitable. 

Online Sports Betting in Arkansas

Online Sports Betting
Despite the relatively relaxed laws surrounding land-based sports betting in Arkansas, the situation for online sports betting is somewhat more complex. Currently, the state does not license or regulate online sports betting platforms. This means that while residents can legally place sports bets at the state’s licensed casinos, they cannot do so through online platforms operated within the state.
Nevertheless, the residents have not been entirely left out of the online sports betting phenomenon. Many turn to offshore online sports betting websites that are not governed by Arkansas law. This practice is generally overlooked by the state authorities, meaning that Arkansas residents can participate in online sports betting, albeit through a somewhat indirect route.
The Arkansas Racing Commission oversees sports betting, both online and offline, in the state. The body is responsible for enforcing rules and regulations concerning gambling and betting in the state. As of now, any decision to expand legal sports betting to include online platforms will need to pass through the Arkansas Racing Commission.

Arkansas Poker Scene


The state of poker in Arkansas is multifaceted. Land-based poker games are available at the state’s licensed casinos, and many residents enjoy participating in these. The casinos offer different types of poker games, such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and more, providing a vibrant poker scene for enthusiasts in the state.

However, online poker shares a similar fate as online casino gambling in Arkansas. As of now, online poker is not legally regulated in the state. This prohibition means that there are no state-licensed online poker platforms available for residents. Many poker players in Arkansas, therefore, resort to playing at offshore sites, a practice technically illegal but generally overlooked by state authorities.

Arkansas Gaming Regulations And Statutory Requirements

Arkansas has cultivated a comprehensive framework for governing its gambling establishments, ushering in both opportunities and responsibilities for operators. Delving into this structure provides a clear insight into the oversight, licensing procedures, revenue distributions, responsible gaming practices, and other significant regulations impacting the state’s gaming industry.

Regulatory Oversight

Commercial Gaming Oversight: The primary entity overseeing commercial gaming activities in Arkansas is the Arkansas Racing Commission. This body carries the duty of handling aspects like licensing, adjudication of penalties, certification of casino game types, and endorsing casino gaming plans.

2005 was a landmark year with the enactment of the Games of Skill Act (Ark. Code ยงยง 23-113-101 and onwards). This act permitted gaming machines at licensed pari-mutuel racetracks, albeit contingent on public endorsement.

Progressing further, in November 2018, a pivotal ballot referendum was approved. This allowed casinos in Arkansas to expand their offerings to include a full spectrum of casino games, inclusive of sports betting. Four distinct casino licenses are provisioned in the state, spread out between Pope and Jefferson counties, and two at the existing racetracks.

Incorporating the essence of gaming in Arkansas, establishments like Southland Casino Racing, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, and Saracen Casino Resort stand as quintessential examples. The latter made its grand opening in October 2020, and Cherokee Nation Business has been the chosen licensee for Pope County’s casino as of November 2021.


Commercial Gaming Licenses: Notably, the gaming hubs Southland and Oakland have been exempted from paying extra casino licensing charges. However, for those vying for the two additional casino licenses, an application fee can climb up to $250,000. Once granted, a renewal for these licenses is mandated every decade, accompanied by a $10,000 fee.

A thorough breakdown reveals that manufacturers or distributors catering to the gaming industry have an initial application fee of $6,000. Their annual license renewal is priced at $1,000. Moreover, as detailed in Rule 3.03, entities engaged in the production, sale, lease, supply, or distribution of gaming equipment need a service industry license, again priced at $6,000 initially and $1,000 for annual renewals.

Taxation & Tribal Revenue Sharing

Commercial Gaming Taxes: Delving into the taxation structure, Rule 6.030 dictates that casino gaming is taxed at 13% for the initial $150m of net gaming receipts, and any amount surpassing this is taxed at 20%. Revenue from these casinos is allocated in the following manner:

  • Arkansas General Revenue Fund: 55%
  • Casino’s Host City: 19.5%
  • Arkansas Racing Commission Purse and Awards Fund: 17.5%
  • Casino’s Host County: 8%

Promotions are not left out, as operators can extend various promotional items to players under Rule 12.210. Furthermore, any gambling winnings in Arkansas, after subtracting losses, are taxable, with specifics depending on the income bracket of the winner.

Responsible Gaming

Commitment to Responsible Gaming: In Arkansas, there aren’t mandatory funding stipulations for responsible gaming. Likewise, self-exclusion mechanisms aren’t legally compelled. However, advertising standards are stringent. Operators must maintain high levels of honesty, decency, and transparency. Casinos also have a duty to display responsible gambling messages prominently.

Importantly, the age restriction is set at 21 years, ensuring only adults partake in gambling activities.

Other Regulations

Quality Assurance & AML Compliance: All gaming equipment must undergo rigorous testing by an ARC-approved laboratory. This is to guarantee compliance with Arkansas law and ARC rules. Casinos must ensure only ARC-validated equipment is operational. Anti-money laundering regulations are also enforced stringently, aligning with federal U.S. law.

Additional regulations encompass shipping rules, political contribution guidelines, credit allowances, and the stance on smoking within casino premises. Interestingly, Arkansas permits cashless wagering systems but is yet to endorse cryptocurrencies for gambling transactions.

Sports Betting

Arkansas has greenlit sports betting at established venues like Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, Southland Casino, and Saracen Casino Resort. The upcoming Pope County casino will also join this list. Betting modalities extend to in-facility betting stations and mobile account systems. For sports betting, similar taxation and licensing rules apply as detailed above for commercial gaming.


The gambling legislation in Arkansas has been designed to encourage responsible gambling while ensuring the thrill and excitement that comes with these activities. The state offers a variety of both online and land-based gambling options, thus meeting the different preferences of its residents and visitors. Compliance with the legal age requirements is of utmost importance in ensuring a gambling environment that is both safe and law-abiding.

Arkansas, with its deep-seated gambling heritage and established gaming institutions, continues to draw in crowds seeking an exhilarating gaming experience. As the legal landscape keeps changing, it’s vital for anyone interested in this sector to stay abreast of any modifications in the laws and regulations.



As of 2023, legal forms of gambling in Arkansas include land-based casinos, horse and dog racing, daily fantasy sports, the state lottery, and charitable games.

As of 2023, online sports betting is not legally regulated in Arkansas. However, residents often use offshore betting sites, a practice generally overlooked by the state authorities.

Online casino gambling is prohibited under Arkansas law. Therefore, there are no state-licensed online casinos in Arkansas.

The legal age to participate in the state lottery and pari-mutuel betting is 18. However, for casino gambling, you must be at least 21 years old.

Yes, land-based poker is legal in Arkansas at licensed casinos. However, online poker is not regulated under Arkansas law.

Laws surrounding online gambling, including online casinos and sports betting, might evolve, but no concrete plans or legislation have been announced as of 2023.