Online Gambling in

Arkansas

July 2019 brought the start of legal sports betting to the Natural State. Arkansans can place wagers at the Oaklawn Casino in Hot Springs and will have their ears to the ground for news of the remaining three establishments issued with a gambling licence. The same goes for mobile wagering which is not an option as it stands.

Arkansas

Limited Sports Betting is legal in Arkansas

Sports Betting in Arkansas

1st July officially marked the beginning of sports betting in The Bear State.

After a lean spell of states legalizing the industry so far this year, Arkansas become the first state in 2019 to launch a regulated industry and the ninth in total across the US.

It was down to the GM of the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs - the only location in which bets are currently accepted in AR - to place the first ever legal wager, a $5 on Dallas Cowboys -7.5, against the NY Giants.

But it’s unlikely many sports bettors in Arkansas will be left enthused with what they’ve got.

Read on for the very latest surrounding sports betting in Arkansas.

How sports betting in Arkansas shapes up

The framework in place allows for in-person wagering at four land based casinos; Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and Southland Racing & Gaming, as well as two still-to-be-built locations in Pope county and Johnson county.

Unfortunately, the legislation does not cater for mobile wagering.

As it stands, sports bettors are only able to place bets at Oaklawn via its newly developed ‘Race & Sports Book’ powered by SBTech. Oaklawn Casino offers teller wagering as well as fast user friendly kiosks available seven days a week. The desire to introduce off-site wagering is strong, yet the likelihood of this coming off inside a year is slim to say the least.

Arkansas welcome sign

Meanwhile, Southland Racing & Gaming in West Memphis, has updated its status recently to “coming soon”.

But with Southland owned by Delaware North, responsible for the retail and online operations at Wheeling Island and Mardi Gars Casinos in WV (yes, the temporarily suspended ones) there’s, rightly, one or two concerns as to when and maybe even if this will get off the ground at all; “it’s complicated” a more fitting status to go with then, maybe?

Need for mobile wagering already pressing

The launch of sports betting in Arkansas is all very well for residents in Hot Springs. Quite how thrilled budding bettors anywhere else in the state will be is another question though.

Those in the state capital, Little Rock, face a two round trip to place a wager on their favorite team. That doesn’t seem so bad though when compared to trips from Fort Smith (2 ½ hours one way), Fayetteville (3 hours, 20 one way) and Springdale (3 ½ hours one way).

Not only is there just one single sportsbook out of reach of a large majority of the state, there’s also no mobile wagering. To add salt in the wound, any mobile platform introduced will be limited to use on the casino premises.

One of the main reasons behind legalizing sports betting was undoubtedly the potential revenue to be made. But with little incentive for residents to bet within state borders - at least not for the moment - the industry is far from 'Driving Arkansas Forward', as the much talked about initiative and main catalyst of sports betting in AR promised originally.

How Sports Betting came to Arkansas

The people of Arkansas have spoken!

Sports betting is just around the corner for ‘The Natural State’ after voters chose to legalize the industry in a decisive mid-term Election ballot.

Sports betting is officially a legal form of gambling in Arkansas

The initiative ‘Driving Arkansas forward’, sponsored by casino and gambling operators and created with the intention of expanding the gambling industry to create more job opportunities and improve conditions in Arkansas, has, in many ways, served as the catalyst in more than 54% of Arkansas voters favouring the proposed bill.

New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, and Rhode Island have already acted in legalising sports betting since the PASPA act was downed by the Supreme Court mid 2018.

Driving arkansas forward

Driving Arkansas Forward is a ballot initiative, created with the intention of expanding the gambling industry and to keep tax - and tourism dollars - in the state.

How to Set Up a Sports Betting Account in Arkansas

Setting up a sports betting account in Arkansas will require you to do so in person at the only live location: Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort (Hot Springs).

The remaining three brick-and-mortar casinos (below) granted a licence by the Arkansas Racing Commission have yet to confirm projected launch dates.

  • Southland Racing & Gaming (West Memphis)
  • A casino yet to be built (Pope county)
  • A casino yet to be built (Jefferson county)

When signing-up, be sure to take with you the documentation required to confirm your identity. An ID card or passport is normally sufficient but you may also require a copy of a bill/receipt bearing your name and address.

A VISA debit card is the typical payment method used

All in all, the process shouldn’t take more than between 10 and 15 minutes to complete. Once done, you’re likely to be issued with a membership card to gain access to the sportsbook facilities. It must be noted that this is for your use and your use only.

What sports can you bet on in Arkansas?

The sports one can wager on at Oaklawn sportsbook are typical of the industry at present; NFL and college football, pro and college basketball, pro ice hockey.

Chuck in lines on soccer games, combat sports and golf/tennis/olympic events and there's plenty to keep sports bettors of all levels entertained.

Much fandom surrounds the fortunes of the Arkansas Razorbacks, whose presence takes on greater significance due to the lack of a pro sports team in the state.

Who are the Arkansas Razorbacks?

All of the University of Arkansas teams play under the nickname ‘The Razorbacks’.

Each of the nineteen teams compete in NCAA Division 1 of the Southeastern conference, the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. The university is represented across 13 sports including football, baseball, basketball and softball.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium - home to the Razorbacks football team

Arkansas and the NFL

Since the state may not have a professional NFL team of its own, fans flock to watch the Dallas Cowboys, the adopted franchise of Arkansas.

A five-hour drive away at best, it has to be said the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas isn’t exactly around the corner.

Yet, it’s is a strong indicator of the lengths sports fans in Arkansas are prepared to go to satisfy their craving for top-flight football.

Few could argue with the choice of team either. Well, fans of fierce rivals Philadelphia Eagles might!

The Cowboys are among the most successful NFL sides in history having won the prestigious Super Bowl five times and the NFC East Championship in three of the last six seasons.

They do the business off the playing field too. Dallas are the first NFL franchise to be valued at $5 billion, preserving their status as the most valued NFL team for the twelfth straight year in the process.

Popular Forms of Betting in Arkansas

While most markets can be applied across all sports, you’ll find certain wagers are best applied to specific sports.

Money line

The simplest of all the wagers out there since you’re just calling the winner of a game. Factors such as form, team selection, history of results will be used by the bookmaker to determine the favorite and the underdog. From this, odds will be given to both.

The name of the favourite will be followed by a minus sign (-) and a number - this indicates how much you need to stake in order to win $100. Typically, backing a team expected to win will require staking more money for a notable return.

The underdog is given a positive value (+) and a number indicating how much you can win from every $100 wagered. Since there’s less chance of the underdog winning, staking a smaller is amount is common.

Recommended for: NFL, NBA, MLB

Point spread

There isn’t a lot of difference between the point spread and money line. But here you need to consider the margin of victory between the two teams.

You may opt for this wager if the gulf between the two teams is so large that backing the favourite via a money line bet represents little value.

Again, the favourite is assigned a negative value and the underdog a positive number. So, let’s say Team A +22.5 points and Team B -22.5 points have been set the following point spreads.

If you back Team B on a point spread, they need to win by 23 points or more to win the wager. Equally Team A need to lose by 22 points or less to win. The .5 used clearly removes any grey area from the situation.

Recommended for: NFL, NBA, NHL

Totals (Over/Under)

Forget about who may win. Instead, how do you see the game going? Will it be an open, attractive one full of touchdowns? Or are the teams on show known for being conservative and holding back a little? Perhaps the weather is set to have a big say on the conditions making for an unpredictable game.

Whatever your thoughts, your bet centers on the combined score of both teams and whether the game will finish Over or Under a set number.

The line may be set at 37.5 for instance. If you feel the two sides will yield less than 37 points between them, then you’d bet Under (the line). If you bet Over the line, you’ll be hoping to see more than 37 points for your wager to come in. A scenario where the total is bang on 37 is called a push and will see your stake returned.

Recommended for: NFL, NBA, NHL

Parlays

Similar to an accumulator which has risen to prominence in mainland Europe, you are able to combine a number of wagers - this may be a point spread, a moneyline and a total - into one bet. There is great freedom in what you can include and the number of wagers with the more you include, increasing your potential returns. The only caveat of this is the need for all wagers to be correct. Even if one out of nine wagers is wrong, your bet is a losing one and your stake is lost.

Props

As with the totals bet, you do not need to rely on the outcome of the game to yield a win. A proposition bet, as its also known, allows you to bet on a host of eventualities in a game from who will score the first touchdown to how many field goals will be kicked. Even calling which team will win the coin toss is bet which is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the bigger events such as the Super Bowl final.

History of Sports Betting in Arkansas

With the launch of sports betting in Hot Springs, a town that was largely built on the gambling industry, you could say gambling has come full circle in Arkansas.

In addition to Oaklawn, Hot Springs was once home to a number of brick-and-mortar casinos and sportsbooks, despite the fact gambling (horse racing aside) was never actually legal.

Upto the 1960’s, the gambling scene of HS rivalled that of Las Vegas - perhaps a reason why the government decided to turn a blind eye and even approved of it.

But as you can imagine in an regulated and profitable industry, it eventually blew up in a cloud of criminality. Known villain, Owney Madden, brought the entire industry down trying to control who could and couldn’t operate in the city.

Arkansas Derby 2013 002 1

Gambling on horses always remained in AR however thanks to The Oaklawn Park Racetrack, famous for its thoroughbred racing and home to The Racing Festival of the South.

Just one of the stakes races run at Oaklawn during the festival is The Arkansas Derby, a race which has existed since and run every year since 1936.

Menu