Arkansas Sports Betting — Latest AR Sports Betting Updates
Arkansas sports betting is legal and live. Three online sports betting sites are available in the state.
Until March 5, 2022, legal sports bets in Arkansas required a trip to one of three casino locations. However, a rule change in late 2021 cleared the way for online betting, which received approval in February 2022.
Read on for more information on Arkansas sports betting, including the details about the law.
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Is sports betting legal in Arkansas?
Yes. Sports betting has been legal in Arkansas since November 2018 and is available at the state’s three casinos and three online sportsbooks:
- Oaklawn Sports
- Bet Saracen
Bettors can wager from anywhere in the state with these three operators.
What’s happening in Arkansas sports betting right now
- Feb. 15, 2024 — Arkansas regulators send cease-and-desist letters to PrizePicks and Underdog, asking the DFS apps to stop operating in the state.
- Feb. 8, 2024 — The state announces that Arkansas sports betting handle fell slightly to $52.9 million in December, down 3.2% from November. December’s figure was up 71% year over year, however.
- Jan. 16, 2024 — The state announces that Arkansas sports betting handle rose to $54.7 million in November, up 21% from October and a new record high. Revenue and taxes were down month over month, however.
- Jan. 15, 2024 — According to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied a petition to rehear a lawsuit concerning the fourth casino license in the state.
- Dec. 14, 2023 — The state announces that Arkansas sports betting handle rose to $44.9 million in October, a new record high. That total was an 8.6% increase month over month.
Where to bet on sports in Arkansas
Other than three mobile sportsbooks in Arkansas, bettors can place bets in person at any of three retail sportsbooks in the state. Each book is located at one of Arkansas’ three casinos. A fourth casino, under construction in Pope County, is also planning to include a retail sportsbook.
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort (Oaklawn Sportsbook)
Oaklawn is the oldest and most prestigious of Arkansas’ gambling locations. It has been a premier horse racing facility for over a century. Notably, it is the home of the Arkansas Derby, a Grade I thoroughbred race with a purse exceeding $1 million. Oaklawn was the first facility in Arkansas to accept sports bets and opened its sportsbook in July 2019. The sportsbook is a full-service facility with teller windows and kiosks available to receive wagers.
Southland Casino Racing (Betly)
Southland is the other facility in Arkansas to offer horse racing for viewing and wagering. Its approach to sports betting is less formal than at Oaklawn. Although there is a full-service sportsbook with tellers, it is located in the property’s sports bar and is a more integrated part of the food, drinks, and entertainment options. Kiosks are scattered around Southland’s grounds for any bettors who want to place their wagers quickly.
Saracen Casino Resort (BetSaracen Sportsbook)
Saracen is one of the few commercial casinos in the country under tribal ownership. The Quapaw Nation, a federally recognized tribe in Oklahoma, owns the casino and its associated annex as a business venture. The Saracen sportsbook opened in 2022.
Legends Resort & Casino (coming soon)
Legends Resort & Casino is the planned fourth casino in Arkansas. It will be located in Russellville, 75 miles Northwest of Little Rock. The facility will reportedly include a sportsbook inside the hotel’s sports bar.
Sportsbook apps that could debut in Arkansas
The online sports betting rules in Arkansas allow for as many as eight online sportsbooks in the state. In addition to the three that are already operational, several candidates could begin offering online sports betting promotions and bonuses if they were to launch in Arkansas:
Caesars Sportsbook is the sports betting wing of one of the world’s largest gambling companies. In Arkansas, Caesars is already partnered with the Gulfside Casino Partnership, the soon-to-be owner/operator of the fourth casino in the state: River Valley Casino in Russellville.
DraftKings is already a familiar commodity in Arkansas due to its daily fantasy sports operation, which has been explicitly legal in the state since 2017. The company merged with SBTech, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort’s sports betting partner, in 2020. DraftKings also had a presence at a December 2021 Arkansas Racing Commission meeting.
FanDuel is the other DFS provider that has blossomed into a full-service gambling company in the past few years. Its easy-to-navigate app and various promotions have propelled it to the top of the market in multiple areas of the country. FanDuel has also partnered with gambling technology provider IGT in the past, and IGT powers the sports betting operations at both Southland Casino Racing and Saracen Casino Resort.
BetMGM Sportsbook has been at the forefront of online sports betting launches in multiple states in the past few years. MGM is active in the region and maintains two casino properties in neighboring Mississippi. BetMGM also had a presence at the December 2021 meeting of the Arkansas Racing Commission.
Other possible Arkansas sportsbooks
With as many as eight online sportsbooks possible in Arkansas, other companies may also put their names forward. The following sportsbooks haven’t made many moves in the state so far, but they could show up as part of the market nonetheless:
Arkansas sports betting basics
Arkansas voters opted in November 2018 to legalize retail sports betting at up to four locations in the state. The Arkansas Racing Commission regulates the activity.
Online sports betting became available in early 2022 following the adoption of new rules by the Arkansas Racing Commission. The state’s casinos can partner with up to two online sportsbooks. In addition, Arkansas taxes sports betting revenue at a rate of 51%.
A lobbyist for the sportsbooks attempted to persuade the racing commission that the rate was overly restrictive. Representatives for the state’s casinos fought back and cited New York’s model as a counterexample to the claim that such a high rate was unworkable. The latter argument won the day, and the rules moved forward in their most recent incarnation.
Popular sports in Arkansas
Arkansas’ sports betting law does not contain many restrictions. The only things the law explicitly prohibits betting on are political elections and virtual sports. Football is the most popular sport for betting in every state in the US, including Arkansas. Other sports that people in the state can bet on include the following:
- Bare-knuckle fighting
- Mixed martial arts
Some of these sports offer different levels for wagering— college and professional games are on the table. Here are some of the most popular teams for betting in Arkansas:
- Arkansas Razorbacks (NCAA)
- Arkansas State Red Wolves (NCAA)
- Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans (NCAA)
- Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions (NCAA)
- Central Arkansas Bears (NCAA)
- Dallas Cowboys (NFL)
- Dallas Mavericks (NBA)
- Dallas Stars (NHL)
- Kansas City Chiefs (NFL)
- Kansas City Royals (MLB)
- Memphis Grizzlies (NBA)
- St. Louis Blues (NHL)
- St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)
- Texas Rangers (MLB)
This list is not exhaustive by any means. The NCAA teams offer football and basketball, of course, and each of Arkansas’ sportsbooks will have options for any major professional sports event or team.
DFS in Arkansas
Arkansans have been able to play daily fantasy sports contests legally for several years. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed off on HB 2250 in April 2017 to allow DFS sites to operate legally in the state. Top DFS providers like DraftKings and FanDuel have been part of the landscape ever since.
The legalization was the first in 2017 and the ninth overall. For the most part, the law does not include many restrictions or consumer protections for participating in the contests. DFS sites must pay a flat 8% tax to the state, and that’s the primary mission of the four-page act.
Is horse betting legal in Arkansas?
Yes. Betting on horse races in Arkansas in both live and online formats is legal. Arkansas is home to one of the more prestigious races in the country — the Arkansas Derby. It runs every April at Oaklawn Park and features 3-year-old thoroughbreds running 1⅛ miles on dirt for a $1.25 million purse. Notable winners of the Arkansas Derby include Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, and Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex.
Arkansans need not go to Oaklawn Park if they want to wager on races there or anywhere else in the country. Arkansas permits its residents to wager through online horse betting sites. Of those, one of the best options is FanDuel Racing. The racebook arm of the sports betting and DFS giant is also linked with FanDuel TV, which provides coverage of US and international horse races.
Arkansas is also home to one of the few active greyhound tracks remaining in the country. Greyhounds race from January to September each year at Southland Casino Racing, offering many of the same options for wagering as the ponies. Greyhound racing has become less popular over time due to concerns over the treatment of the animals, but Arkansans can still participate in the activity if they are in West Memphis.
Arkansas sports betting timeline
Arkansas’ experience with sports betting has been a slow burn. Voters approved the activity in November 2018 as a constitutional amendment. Oaklawn accepted the first wager in July 2019. Here’s a rundown of all the relevant moves that have led to this point:
In June, Arkansas regulators more than double the number of sports available to bettors, adding options such as lacrosse, sailing, bowling, cornhole, and snooker to the list that books can offer.
By the end of July, Arkansas sports betting handle had already surpassed 2022’s total for the year.
The Arkansas Racing Commission’s new rules for online sports betting received legislative approval in late February. That means mobile sports betting can launch in early March 2022.
Online sports betting launches in April 2022 with Southland’s Betly brand.
Bet Saracen launches in May and is the only other online sportsbook live in the state.
Oaklawn announced in August that it will launch online sports betting in Arkansas with Kambi.
In-person sports betting continues to trudge forward in Arkansas at the three casino locations in the state. Construction continues on the Pope County casino, but no firm opening date for the sportsbook or the casino itself is available.
The biggest news about sports betting in Arkansas in 2021 does not come until the waning days of the year in December. The Arkansas Racing Commission passes a set of rules to regulate and manage online sports betting. The rules involve a heavy tax structure similar to that of New York, and allow for the possibility of as many as eight legal online sportsbooks in the state.
Another sportsbook opens its doors for business in 2020. Southland Casino Racing accepts its first sports wager in January. It then endures a closure due to pandemic concerns before reopening in September.
No bills or legislative motions occur due to the Arkansas legislative schedule. Lawmakers meet only in odd-numbered years in the Natural State.
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort hosts the first legal sports bet in Arkansas history in July. Wayne Smith, Oaklawn’s general manager, kicks things off with a $5 wager on the Dallas Cowboys. Oaklawn ultimately enjoys a six-month de facto monopoly on sports betting in Arkansas. However, due to state law, people must place their bets in person at the facility in Hot Springs.
A second sports betting location goes live in Arkansas in October, in a muted context. The Saracen Casino Annex, the first phase of the new Jefferson County casino, offers a sports betting kiosk for players to make their wagers. To this day, service at Saracen continues in this fashion.
Some Arkansas lawmakers are rumbling about revising the law to include online sports betting. State Sen. Will Bond introduces SB 669 as a law to permit “licensed on-site and electronic wagering on athletic events by certain entities.” The bill does not go far and dies within a month of its introduction in April.
Voters approve Arkansas Issue 4 on the November ballot. The measure, an initiated constitutional amendment, permits the introduction of sports betting to the state’s two casino locations as part of a broader gambling expansion. There is no provision for online sports betting in the measure, however. All wagers must be in-person. The initiative also calls for the creation of two new casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties, each with its own sportsbook. The Jefferson location has since opened as the Saracen Casino Resort, and the Pope County property is still under construction as the River Valley Casino.
Arkansas sports betting FAQ
Who oversees online sports betting in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Racing Commission. As is the case in many states without a dedicated gambling commission, the ARC acts as the oversight agency for all gambling in the state despite its nominal restriction to racing-based gambling.
What is the legal gambling age in Arkansas?
You must be 21 or older to participate in sports betting in Arkansas.
Some sports betting websites say they accept bets from Arkansas. Are those legal options?
The only legal online betting sites in Arkansas are the ones mentioned above. Other sites are based outside the United States and are not bound to comply with Arkansas or US law. As such, using one of them would expose you to a host of risks that go beyond the vig you’ll have to pay. Playing on any site with its headquarters and/or servers located in a foreign country puts your money at risk.