The gambling outlook in Arkansas

Arkansas, famously known for its farmland, mighty rivers, and hot springs, is also building a reputation as an emerging player in the gambling industry. Historically, the state has been a bit of a stick in the mud, maintaining a staunchly conservative stance towards gambling. However, much like the sluggish yet unstoppable current of the Mississippi, the state's stance on gambling is witnessing a slow but steady shift.

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📖 Published on: June 15th, 2023

✍️ Updated: 4 days ago

⏳ 25 mins read

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Gambling in Arkansas image
Arkansas coat of arms image

Today, the Natural State is turning a new leaf, expanding its gambling repertoire beyond the traditional horse and greyhound racing. With recent additions like state-licensed casinos and legalized daily fantasy sports, it's beginning to walk on the wild side, embracing the exciting world of wagering with a newfound enthusiasm.

While it's not yet on par with the gambling hotbeds of Las Vegas or Atlantic City, Arkansas is proving that it's no slouch. The casinos are buzzing, the race tracks are flourishing, and the lottery games are as popular as ever. So put on your poker face and pull up a chair, because Arkansas in 2023 is playing its hand, and it's a game you wouldn't want to miss!

Arkansas gambling laws and regulations

When it comes to gambling laws and regulations, Arkansas has always held its cards close to its chest. Like a seasoned Texas Hold'em player reading the room before making a bet, the state has traditionally been slow and deliberate in its approach to gambling legislation. However, the past decade has seen a loosening of the old bootstraps, making the landscape more accommodating for gambling enthusiasts.

Arkansas law allows for four state-licensed casinos to operate. These were brought to life following the passage of Amendment 100 in 2018, which opened the doors to a more liberalized gambling environment. These casinos, apart from offering the classic table games and slots, also have the green light to conduct sports betting activities.

Charitable bingo and raffles are in play too, as long as they're not for personal profit. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, established in 2009, is alive and kicking, contributing millions each year to fund education scholarships.

As for online gambling, it's still very much under the red tape, with the exception of Daily Fantasy Sports. After the state hit a home run by legalizing DFS in 2017, fans have been waiting with bated breath for further digital expansion, but the wait continues.

Despite these significant strides, Arkansas is still taking baby steps. The state's gambling laws remain relatively strict, but the wheels are turning, albeit slowly, towards a more inclusive gambling environment. As they say in these parts, patience is a virtue.


What is considered legal gambling

Strap on your boots and grab your lucky charm, gambling enthusiasts, because it's time to navigate the landscape of legal gambling in Arkansas! If you've got a yen for placing your bets and counting your winnings, the Natural State has a little something for everyone, as long as you play by the rules.

Now, where can you legally let loose in the state of Bill Clinton and Johnny Cash? Let's roll the dice and see!

First up, let's talk about the ponies and pups. Horse racing and greyhound racing have a long and storied history in the state, with both Oaklawn and Southland Park offering both live racing and simulcast racing. These tracks are as much a part of the Arkansas fabric as cornbread and sweet tea.

Next, if you're in the mood for some numbers games, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has got you covered. With games ranging from instant scratch-offs to Powerball and Mega Millions, you can try your luck for just a couple of bucks and, who knows, you might just hit the jackpot!

And if the glitz and glamor of casinos get your pulse racing, you're in for a treat. Arkansas is home to four state-licensed casinos: Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, Southland Casino Racing, Saracen Casino Resort, and River Valley Casino. From poker to blackjack to slot machines, these establishments offer all the thrills of Las Vegas in the heart of the American South.

And last but not least, if charity and bingo are two of your favorite words, then you're in luck! The state allows charitable organizations to hold bingo games and raffles, making for a good time that's also for a good cause.

In the end, as long as you're of age and playing within these lines, Arkansas is your gambling oyster! Enjoy the games, savor the excitement, and may Lady Luck be with you!


What is considered illegal gambling

In the state where "The Natural State" is the nickname, it's not surprising that some forms of gambling are as unwelcome as a skunk at a garden party. So, folks, listen up, because we're diving into the nitty-gritty – the types of gambling that are considered illegal in Arkansas.

First off, if you're considering running an unregulated poker tournament from your basement or placing bets with your buddies on the outcome of the big game, you better pump the brakes. Unless a game or bet falls under the umbrella of state-sanctioned activities, it's a no-go.

But what about online gambling, you ask? Well, unless you're playing daily fantasy sports – a type of online gambling specifically legalized by the state in 2017 – you're out of luck. Unauthorized online casinos, poker sites, and sportsbooks are verboten in the Natural State. So, for those of you who were thinking about firing up an online poker tournament or laying down a few dollars on an offshore sports betting site – think again.

And let's not forget about unlicensed real-life casinos. If a casino isn't one of the four state-licensed establishments, it's sailing in illegal waters. So, remember, when in Arkansas, keep your gambling activities on the straight and narrow. Gambling might be about taking risks, but this is one bet you don't want to make.

Arkansas gambling


Legal age to gamble in Arkansas

In Arkansas, the law is as clear as a bell: you've got to be 21 years old to step foot in a casino. That's right, no matter how lucky you're feeling or how sharp your poker skills are, if you're not old enough to legally enjoy a cold one, you're not old enough to play the slots or the blackjack tables. They'll card you at the door faster than a jackrabbit on a hot griddle.

Now, for those of you still in your teen years, don't feel left out. If you're 18 or older, you can legally partake in bingo and the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. These games are a fantastic way to dip your toes in the gambling waters.

So, whether you're itching to try your hand at poker or fancy a go at the scratch-offs, remember that age isn't just a number when it comes to gambling in Arkansas. The Natural State's laws are in place to ensure gambling remains safe and enjoyable for everyone, and we all know, rules are rules.

Real money casinos in Arkansas

When it comes to real money casinos, Arkansas is a state that doesn’t disappoint. With a quartet of state-licensed casinos, this former gambling underdog is steadily building its reputation as a rising star on the casino stage.

First off, we've got Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, a historic gem that's been serving up thrilling horse races since 1904. Now, in addition to hosting some of the nation's top thoroughbreds, this institution boasts a fully-fledged casino where you can test your luck on everything from roulette to blackjack to slots.

Then, over in West Memphis, there's Southland Casino Racing. Once just a greyhound track, it's now a full-scale casino, offering not just a plethora of gaming tables, but also sports betting for those of you who love to wager on your favorite teams.

And let's not forget about Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff and River Valley Casino in Russellville. These new kids on the block, armed with state-of-the-art gaming machines, table games, and plush poker rooms, are putting Arkansas firmly on the casino map.

Each of these casinos is a beacon of excitement, offering countless ways to win big while enjoying the excitement of live gaming. So, for those who love the thrill of real money gaming, Arkansas is shaping up to be the place to be. It's game on, folks!

Arkansas casinos


Online casinos

As it stands in 2023, online casinos remain prohibited in Arkansas. Yes, even in the age where we're streaming movies, ordering meals, and even attending virtual concerts, the Natural State is holding fast on its stance against online gambling. The state government has not legalized any form of online casino gaming – that means no online slots, no internet blackjack, and certainly no digital poker.

Now, if you're feeling a little deflated, don't be. Arkansas still allows online daily fantasy sports. Platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel are legal and popular across the state. Plus, social casinos - where you can play casino-style games for fun and not real money - are also available to residents.

It's a mixed bag, for sure. While it's frustrating for those waiting for the digital age of casinos to arrive in Arkansas, it's important to remember that the state takes its laws seriously. So, for now, if you're in the Natural State, you'll have to take a rain check on online casinos. Stick with the legal forms of gambling and keep the dice rolling!


Land-based casinos

If you've got a hankering for the bright lights and big wins of a real, physical casino, then Arkansas has got you covered. The Natural State is home to four state-licensed land-based casinos, each offering its own unique spin on gaming fun.

First up, we've got Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and Southland Casino Racing. These two venues, originally famous for horse and greyhound racing respectively, have expanded their offerings to include a plethora of casino games. From slots that'll have you pulling levers till the cows come home, to poker and blackjack tables where you can bluff and bet to your heart's content, they've got it all.

And let's not forget about the newer entrants to the field - Saracen Casino Resort and River Valley Casino. Both offering state-of-the-art gaming facilities, these casinos bring a Vegas-like experience right to the heart of Arkansas. So, if you're game for some real-life gambling fun, these establishments are ready to roll out the red carpet for you!


Tribal casinos

In many states, tribal nations operate some of the most successful casinos, but due to the specific tribal history and legal agreements in Arkansas, there are currently no tribal-run casinos in the state. The Quapaw Nation has made significant strides with the development of the Saracen Casino Resort, but it's important to note that this is a state-licensed casino, not a tribal one under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

So, if you're in the Natural State and itching for some casino action, you'll need to head to one of the four state-licensed casinos: Oaklawn, Southland, Saracen, or River Valley. While it's not the tribal gaming experience found in other states, you're sure to find plenty of excitement and hopefully a little bit of that gambler's luck!


Shipboard and floating casinos

If you're looking to hit the jackpot while floating down the mighty Mississippi, I've got some news for you: shipboard or floating casinos in Arkansas are as scarce as hen's teeth. While it might be a romantic notion to place your bets while cruising down the river, the state laws of Arkansas don't see eye to eye with this idea.

Currently, all casinos in the Natural State are land-based, meaning you'll have to keep your sea legs at bay. The four licensed establishments – Oaklawn, Southland, Saracen, and River Valley – are all firmly anchored to terra firma.

This doesn't mean you can't enjoy a little river time while in Arkansas, just that you'll need to save your betting for dry land. But who knows? As the state continues to evolve its gaming industry, maybe we'll see Arkansas roll the dice on floating casinos in the future. Until then, we keep our gambling feet on solid ground!



Arkansas is home to two unique establishments, fondly known as 'racinos'. These venues perfectly mix the heart-pumping excitement of racing with the bright lights and fun of casino gaming.

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs is a titan in this field. With its roots in horse racing that go back to 1904, Oaklawn has added a bevy of casino games, ensuring that every moment spent here is as exciting as a horse sprinting down the final furlong.

Over in West Memphis, there's Southland Casino Racing, a venue that once only hosted greyhound races but has since expanded its repertoire to include a wide array of casino games. From the thrill of the race to the spin of the roulette wheel, these Arkansas racinos offer the best of both worlds. So, put on your best poker face, pick your favorite steed, and get ready for an unforgettable experience!


Off-track betting

Alright, let's turn our attention to off-track betting (OTB) in Arkansas. Now, if you're the type who loves the thrill of the race but can't always make it down to the track, OTB was made for you. In the Natural State, off-track betting is largely facilitated through the state's racinos - Oaklawn and Southland. They both offer simulcast racing, allowing you to wager on races happening across the country right from the comfort of the racino.

Whether you're keen on thoroughbreds, harness, or greyhound racing, these racinos have you covered. Imagine yourself at Oaklawn, a hotdog in one hand, a betting slip in the other, eyes glued to the big screen as the horses you've wagered on vie for the lead at a track halfway across the country. It's the kind of excitement that makes off-track betting a favorite among many Arkansans. It's the next best thing to being there in person!

Nearest land based casinos

We've compiled a list of the most trusted land-based casinos if you're searching for "Arkansas casinos near me":

Southland Casino Racing
Southland Casino Racing, located in West Memphis, Arkansas, is the premier spot for gaming and racing entertainment in the area. A variety of 300 rooms are available for guests, ranging in price from $250 to $350. Dining is taken care of with 4 top-notch restaurants. Gamers will find Slots, Video Poker, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Poker, Let it Ride, Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold 'em, Mississippi Stud, and Sports Book on the premises. Live greyhound racing is available seasonally, while daily simulcasting of horse and greyhound racing is available year round. All table games are electronic. Overnight RV parking is not available. Come join in on the fun at Southland Casino Racing!
1550 North Ingram Boulevard, West Memphis, AR 72301
Phone Number:
(800) 467-6182
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is the premier casino-hotel experience in Arkansas. Located in Hot Springs, the 200 room resort caters to guests with luxurious accommodations at prices ranging from $150-255. With 24/7 gaming, options include slots, blackjack, craps, roulette, three card poker, Ultimate Texas Hold'em, and an exciting sports book. Live thoroughbred racing takes place from mid-January to mid-April, while daily simulcasting of horse racing is available year-round. Relax in style and take your gaming to the next level at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.
2705 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71901
Phone Number:
(501) 623-4411
Saracen Casino Resort
Saracen Casino Resort is located in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and offers an unforgettable experience with 24/7 gaming, slots, table games, sports book, convenience store and gas station. The 80,000 square foot casino has 1,900 slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette, three card poker and more. The property is affiliated with Quapaw Indian Tribe and has plenty of evening activities such as the $40 buffet and liquor served. Guests must be 21 and over to enter the property.
3513 Market Street, Pine Bluff, AR 71601
Phone Number:
(870) 686-9001
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Sports betting

Howdy, sports fans! If you're in Arkansas and looking to lay down a wager on your favorite team, you're in luck. The Natural State stepped up to the plate and hit a home run in 2019 when it legalized sports betting.

As of now, you can bet on your favorite sports at two locations - Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs and Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis. Whether you're a football fanatic, a basketball buff, or a baseball devotee, you can put your money where your mouth is and wager on an array of sports.

Arkansas law allows you to bet on professional and collegiate sports alike, although in-play betting on college games is off-limits. But, hey, you can't win 'em all. So, whether you're backing the Razorbacks or the Cowboys, Arkansas's sports betting scene is a slam dunk! Let the games begin!

Sportsbetting Arizona

Social casinos

Alright, fellow gamers, let's talk about social casinos in Arkansas. Now, I know some of you are scratching your heads thinking, "What in the world is a social casino?" Well, in simple terms, it's an online platform where you can play casino-style games, but without wagering or winning real money.

In the Natural State, while online casinos that involve real cash are still off the table, social casinos are the next best thing. They give you a chance to experience the thrill of the games from the comfort of your own home, or wherever you might be, really.

Platforms like Zynga, DoubleDown, and Slotomania are accessible in Arkansas and have a vast array of games - from poker and blackjack to a dazzling array of slots. So, while you won't be breaking the bank, you can still enjoy the excitement of a win. And isn't that what gaming is all about?

Daily fantasy sports

Calling all armchair quarterbacks and fantasy sports gurus! When it comes to daily fantasy sports (DFS), Arkansas is ready to play ball. DFS was given the green light in 2017 when Act 1075 was signed into law, declaring these games of skill rather than chance.

This opened the door for big players like DraftKings and FanDuel to set up shop in the Natural State, and they've been going strong ever since. So whether you're into football, baseball, basketball, or even golf, there's a DFS contest waiting for you.

Now, I should mention that DFS isn't exactly like traditional sports betting. It's a game of skill where you're acting as the team manager, picking and choosing your players based on stats and predictions. But just like traditional sports betting, it brings another level of excitement to watching your favorite sports. So go on, unleash your inner team manager and dive into the world of DFS in Arkansas!

DFS Arkanzas


Grab your daubers and get ready for some good old-fashioned fun because we're talking about bingo in the Natural State. Whether you're a seasoned pro waiting with bated breath for your next number, or a newbie just learning the ropes, bingo in Arkansas offers something for everyone.

The state laws are pretty clear when it comes to bingo - it's legal as long as it's for charitable purposes. This means that non-profit organizations can host games to raise funds, turning a fun night out into a feel-good event that supports worthy causes.

From local schools to community organizations, many groups have turned to bingo to boost their fundraising efforts. It's not just about winning; it's about coming together as a community. So whether you're in Little Rock or Fayetteville, chances are there's a game going on near you. It's a game of chance, camaraderie, and community in the heart of Arkansas. Bingo!


Well, well, well, let's talk about poker, the granddaddy of card games and a favorite in the Natural State. Now, you might be asking, "Where can I play a round of Texas Hold'em or try my hand at Seven-Card Stud?" Good news, poker enthusiasts! Arkansas offers a handful of places for you to call bluffs and build your chip stack.

First, we've got the state-licensed casinos – Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, Southland Casino Racing, Saracen Casino Resort, and River Valley Casino. Each of these establishments features a variety of poker games, ensuring you can find a table that suits your style and skill level.

But remember, folks, while poker is a game of skill, the lady luck plays a big part. And in Arkansas, where the poker scene is as lively as a rodeo, you're going to want both skill and luck in spades. So shuffle up and deal, y'all!

Gambling tips

Alright, folks, if you're going to try your luck in the Natural State, here are a few tips to ensure you have a good time and keep things in check. As the old saying goes, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em."

  1. Know your games: Whether it's poker, blackjack, or slots, knowing the rules is key. Spend some time learning the ins and outs before you hit the tables or machines.
  2. Set a budget: Decide ahead of time how much you're willing to lose. It may not be the most exciting part of gambling, but it's essential. When the fun stops, you should too!
  3. Stay sober: Alcohol and gambling can be a dangerous mix. You want to stay clear-headed to make the best decisions.
  4. Take breaks: Taking a breather helps you to reassess and avoid getting too caught up in the excitement.
  5. Have fun: This is supposed to be entertaining, so remember to enjoy yourself! And as they say in Arkansas, "If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there!"

Stay savvy, play responsibly, and don't forget to have a blast! Good luck!

The history

Alright, history buffs, buckle up! We're taking a trip down memory lane to the beginnings of gambling in Arkansas.

Arkansas's relationship with gambling has been a rollercoaster. The state's first foray into legal gambling began in the 19th century with the opening of Oaklawn Park, a horse racing track in Hot Springs. It was in operation until the 1950s when authorities cracked down on all forms of gambling, turning the Natural State into a gambling-free zone.

The tide began to turn in 2005 with the introduction of electronic games of skill, paving the way for Oaklawn and Southland Park to evolve into racinos. It wasn't until 2018 that voters approved Amendment 100, allowing the expansion of casinos in the state.

Today, the Arkansas gambling scene is blossoming, but it's been a long road to get here. A bit like a high stakes poker game, there have been ups and downs, but in the end, it looks like the house won!


The future

Arkansas' journey with gambling has seen some dramatic twists and turns, and as we look ahead, the future seems ripe with potential. With the state slowly embracing more forms of gambling, we could see a growth in both online and physical casinos. As technology continues to evolve, we might even see the advent of online sports betting and the legalization of other forms of online gambling.

The success of the recent casino expansion could also lead to further development. More casinos could pop up, and existing ones could expand their offerings. Moreover, tribal casinos could become more prevalent, especially if compacts are established between the state and the tribes.

The future is always uncertain, but one thing's for sure: the sun seems to be rising, not setting, on gambling in Arkansas. Let's see where the chips fall!

Responsible gaming in Arkansas

In Arkansas, as in every other state, gambling should always be about having fun, not making money.

The Natural State takes this topic very seriously. The state-licensed casinos, like Oaklawn, Southland, Saracen, and River Valley, all have responsible gaming measures in place to help ensure folks don't get in over their heads. This includes resources for those who feel they might be developing a problem, and self-exclusion programs for those who need to take a break.

Here are some golden rules: always gamble with money you can afford to lose; never chase losses; and set yourself limits for time and money. Remember, gambling is like a rodeo – it's meant to be enjoyed, but if you're not careful, you can get bucked.


What is the legality of online gambling in the Arkansas?

Online gambling is not explicitly legal in Arkansas. The state's gambling laws focus mainly on land-based establishments, including casinos and racetracks, and don't directly address online gambling. Therefore, while there are no state-sanctioned online casinos, the legality of using offshore online casinos remains a gray area.

How does the Arkansas regulate online gambling sites?

Arkansas doesn't have a clear regulatory framework for online gambling sites since it's not expressly legal. However, the state regulates brick-and-mortar casinos strictly, requiring them to follow certain rules and restrictions to maintain their licenses.

Can I use a VPN to gamble online from the Arkansas?

While it's technically possible to use a VPN to access online gambling sites from Arkansas, it's important to note that doing so might violate the terms and conditions of the gambling site. Additionally, it can also entail legal risks since online gambling is not explicitly legal in Arkansas.

Are there any legal online casinos in the Arkansas?

There are no state-sanctioned online casinos in Arkansas. However, players in Arkansas may be able to play at offshore online casinos, although this exists in a gray legal area and players do so at their own risk. Always check the current legal status and make sure to gamble responsibly.

Katarina Oakshore
Editor | Casinos and Gambling

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