Arkansas sports betting goes live at first location after 2018 casino law
Legal Sports Report

State No. 9 With Sports Betting: Arkansas Wagering Starts July 1 At Oaklawn

Arkansas sports betting

Gear up, Razorbacks: legalized sports betting is now in Arkansas.

Earlier this month, the Arkansas Racing Commission approved Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort to begin accepting wagers July 1.

And now it’s official that the sportsbook is open, according to Oaklawn.

That makes the Hot Springs property the first to offer regulated wagering in the state.

After winning approval to offer sports betting from the state racing commission, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette originally reported that July 1 was the scheduled start date.

The latest state with sports betting

Arkansas is now the ninth state to have legal sports wagering in the US, joining:

  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • New Mexico
  • Delaware
  • Rhode Island
  • Mississippi

New York may also soon join that list with retail sportsbooks opening as soon as next month.

Arkansas sports betting kicking off

Since the tail end of 2018, the Natural State has made strides toward launching legalized sports betting.

State residents in November approved expanded casino gaming in Arkansas, which included regulated wagering. The byproduct of this approval was for the authorization of four casino licenses in the state. Additionally, Oaklawn and Southland Gaming & Racing in West Memphis were allowed to expand their operations into full-fledged casinos.

The passed measure required properties to submit sports betting applications by summer 2019.

It appears Oaklawn satisfied that requirement. And now, the state’s first legal sportsbook seems well on its way to opening.

What to expect at the Oaklawn sportsbook

Oaklawn has already begun construction on a $100 million expansion project at the property. Included is 28,000 square feet in additional gaming space.

Here’s one tease from Oaklawn’s social media:

The casino officially changed its name (from Oaklawn Racing and Gaming) in late March, mere days before offering its first official casino games such as craps and blackjack. At the time of the change, Oaklawn noted that sports betting will be added “in the coming weeks.”

Oaklawn has already partnered with SBTech, property general manager Wayne Smith told BloodHorse earlier this month. The plan, Smith detailed, was for Oaklawn to incorporate sports betting into its existing racebook on the casino floor.

Smith noted that three video walls would be added within the coming weeks, as will self-service kiosks throughout the casino.

The sportsbook will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

What happened to Southland?

Recall in March that Southland Gaming & Racing appeared to be on track to bring the first regulated sportsbook to Arkansas. The property began advertising that wagering was “coming soon.” Yet the public still waits.

Around the same time, however, Southland did not have a targeted date for launch.

While the facility is owned by Delaware North, allowing the company to use its BetLucky brand as it did for West Virginia sports betting, Southland (at least at the time of its advertising) still does not have a targeted date for launch.

The reason? A dispute involving sports betting operator Miomni and Delaware North, which has resulted in two casinos shutting down sportsbooks as well as the closure of a betting app in WV.

“At this time we don’t have an opening date for the sportsbook,” Glen White, a spokesman for Delaware North, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “We are working toward beginning construction this summer on the new gaming complex and hotel and will be adding surface parking this spring to offset the parking that will be lost from that construction.”

Grant Lucas
- Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.
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