Gambling in Arkansas
The state is the 29th largest with about 53,000 square miles in area, having currently three million people in the total population. The state has one of the largest parks in the United States with over 600,000 acres of lakes with close to 10,000 miles of streams and rivers.
Home to a lot of natural beauty and also Bill Clinton, Arkansas shares borders with Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Tennessee.
Gambling History and Scenario
Arkansas offers to game but in very small portions. The state is known to be the land of opportunity, so you would think there will be more casinos. Unfortunately, there are not. The lack of gambling opportunities is currently being debated, as a constitutional amendment is on the table to fully legalize gambling and sports betting, as well as the approval of two casinos in Little Rock.
While this is under debate the state cannot be considered a gambler’s state, even more, when monetary gains from wagering are illegal, which includes playing poker at home. Having this said, there are two legal places to gamble, two racetracks: Southland Park Gaming, in West Memphis, and Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, located in Hot Springs.
The Oaklawn racing track is operating in Arkansas for over 100 years now, since 1904 to be precise, and is home to the Arkansas Derby, which offers $1 million in prizes. Races happen here between January and April, and it’s considered a top track in the country, having several Triple Crown competitors.
Funny enough, racing in Oaklawn started before the track was legal, as pari-mutuel wagering was legalized in Arkansas just in 1935. The first official Arkansas Derby took place in 1936, offering a $5.000 prize.
In the 1990s casino gambling was legalized in neighboring states, namely Mississippi and Louisiana, making the attendance to the racetracks decline. As a way to fight this decline, the state authorized “Instant Racing”, which are electronic machines that allow wagering on past races.
Electronic gambling was further expanded in 2005 when games of skill were approved, which basically meant that slots and video poker were approved, along with living wagering. Currently, we can find in Oaklawn craps, roulette, a poker room, blackjack, slots and video poker.
Southland Park is the other gaming location and is a greyhound racing venue that operates all year-round, unlike most facilities. The track has been operating since 1956 and has over 6.000 yearly races.
There is an increasing demand for this track, which led to the installation of heating underneath the track, making more favorable racing conditions for the dogs. Apart from dog racing, and similarly to what happens in Oaklawn, Southland Park also offers live gaming, roulette, craps, blackjack, and other table games.
High limit gaming, a poker room and close to 2.000 slots are other gambling facilities/opportunities available at Southland. So, considering Arkansas isn’t very gaming favorable, both Southland and Oaklawn are great gambling options for the residents.
Apart from these, the state lottery has become available in 2008, including multi-state drawings like Powerball or Mega Millions. For those who like to travel, there are casinos available at relatively short distances in the neighboring states, namely the Meccas of Tunica in Mississippi, a three-hour drive from Little Rock.
Given the restriction existing in the state, the border regions of Arkansas are dotted with casinos, making their access fairly easy and providing good gambling alternatives.
Summing up Types of Gambling Found in Arkansas
Arkansas has a couple of different gaming choices when it comes to the gambling styles that are currently available. The lottery is one of the most used here which players will only need to be 18 years of age or older to enjoy. Players will have lottery games such as Mega Millions and Powerball along with some of the smaller games to choose from.
Bingo is another really great option for players who are 18 and over. Pari-Mutuel betting is permitted for players who want to place bets on one of the greyhound racing tracks. There are two located within the state who permit bets at just 18 and over.
Like with any other state, federally, players are eligible to play any kind of casino game however, it is up to each individual state to make their own gambling laws. This gives the states the ability to decide if they want to tighten up their gaming laws or leave them as is.
Online gambling is forbidden in Arkansas, except at the electronic machines available at the racetracks. These machines are similar to slots, but their online communication might configure them as online gaming, technically. SB 329 from 2013 also allows both residents and visitors to wager on the racinos using their mobile devices or other connection to the internet.