When you look at the lack of professional sports franchises in Arkansas, paired with the status of strict gambling laws, Arkansas doesn’t really scream sports betting hotspot. Up until 2019, almost every form of gambling was illegal in Arkansas, you would have only been able to find a charitable gambling event such as Bingo, or maybe a fundraising event that will satisfy your betting sweet tooth – to an extent.
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Arkansas Sports Betting Timeline
Looking back on what has happened over the years in the great state of Arizona, we look at the most important events in recent years.
Legalization In 2019
Arkansas residents called for the governing bodies to rework these laws, without much movement or concern from the government, until July 1, 2019, when Arkansas legalized sports betting in the state. The state now has two operational sportsbooks that accept sports betting wagers, and one that is still under construction: the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, Southland Casino Racing, and the Saracen Casino Resort.
Financing and Motivation for Legalization
Naturally, the governing bodies chose to legalize sports betting in Arkansas to see more revenue coming into the state, as opposed to residents visiting other states to place a wager or two. Casino revenue will be taxed 13% on the first $150 million, and 20% thereafter.
Sportsbook licensing fees aren’t able to exceed $250,000 and no mobile gambling or online sports betting is allowed in the state. If that were to change, it would likely be within a few years, once the governing bodies see the potential revenue being missed - usually, in these cases, they will offer limited online offerings or partner with a well-known sportsbook to run their online operations.
Click here to see the full list of states and where they stand on legalizing gambling.
Can I Bet on Sports in Arkansas?
Pre-2019, the only bonus with Arkansas’ dated laws, was that there was nothing in them that prohibited online gambling. Arkansas residents were able to sign up at online casinos and sportsbooks and place wagers from the comfort of their own homes without breaking any laws.
Now there is mention of online gambling in state gambling laws, which worries residents of Arkansas. While you likely wouldn’t get in trouble for signing up at an offshore sportsbook, many don’t want to take the risk. We assure you, any online sportsbook we recommend is safe and trustworthy, and would give you no trouble, should you sign up.
The laws really only target those operating unlicensed sportsbooks within Arkansas state lines. There is no mention of offshore sportsbooks use in their specific legal documents.
With so few options and Arkansas being a big state, not everyone has the means to get to these physical venues, so online sports betting would be the best option for all Arkansas residents. Bovada is a great option and has over 100,000 Arkansas bettors signed up on their sportsbook.
Betting on Arkansas Teams
As mentioned, there aren’t any professional teams in Arkansas, so bettors are really free to wager on any team in the country. This means their betting will be more strategic opposed to biased – much like other states where people only bet on their favorite team.
Arkansas is home to a few collegiate teams: The Arkansas Razorbacks have football and basketball programs that are well-recognized and competitive in the NCAAF and NCAAB. They are worth betting on in their respective divisions on any given day.
Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs accepts a full range of professional and college sports bets, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, MMA, boxing, golf, F1 and Nascar, and more. The Oaklawn sportsbook was ready to launch on July 1, 2019, the first day of legal sports betting in the state.
Southland Racing & Gaming in West Memphis is a casino, buffet, and greyhound racetrack that now offers sports betting on site. Their sportsbook, named Betly, has odds for NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, PGA tournaments, and more. They allow sports betting at their sports bar, which makes for a more laid back environment.
Saracen Casino Annex Sportsbook is located in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and owned by the Quapaw tribe - this will be Arkansas’ first tribal casino. Initially, they opened their doors with 300 slot machines on October 1, 2019, and thereby opened their sportsbook. The casino is currently under construction with a June 2020 completion date. That is now delayed due to COVID-19, so the Saracen resort will be opening a bit later than originally planned.
There is also availability for another casino to be built in Pope County, within two miles of Russellville. This casino bid will have to be applied for by gambling companies who wish to open a casino in Arkansas and ultimately will have to be licensed for sports betting as well.
Top Online Sportsbooks in Arkansas
For the new Arkansas bettors, we want to help guide you to a great sportsbook that is safe, secure, and will help you benefit from sports betting. We have some great sportsbook reviews that were compiled by our experts that will guide you through all criteria you should look for when selecting an online sportsbook.
As we mentioned above, it’s important to only bet online at legitimate, trustworthy online sportsbooks. Ensuring you do your research and find the right online sportsbook will help you make safe sports bets from your living room, or wherever you choose to bet.
Finding an online sportsbook can be challenging, as there are so many in the market. We recommend the top online sportsbooks, especially for betting in Arkansas. Finding a sportsbook with the specific odds you want, bonuses, payment, and withdrawal options, as well as excellent customer service is especially important.
Our online sportsbook reviews can help you through this process, and assist you with finding the right sportsbook. Doing plenty of research and learning more about your options is the first step to betting on sports in Arkansas.