Arkansas was once a casino-laced paradise, on track to position itself as the countries gambling capital, but ultimately opting for welcoming in a more conservative culture which adopted stances on gambling that reflected those values. But the Natural State is also a place that loves its Greyhound racing and betting tradition. These conflicting philosophies have all led to a recent shift in the state’s attitude towards gambling, almost overnight. And most recently, AR has seen the legalization of casino gambling and sports betting.
Arkansas Legal Gambling History
Greyhound racing is an undisputed Arkansas past-time and remains today as the oldest form of legal gambling in the state – and post-World War II up until 2005, it was the only form of legal gambling in the state.
If history could have gone any other way, we may have seen Hot Springs, Arkansas knock Las Vegas out of the ring to take its spot as the casino capital of the United States. In the 1930s, the small nestled city of Hot Springs was home to almost a dozen land-based casinos, which at the time gave Las Vegas a run for its money. However, following World War II, we saw a conservative movement take place in the state of AR where the collective attitude was less than warm towards gambling.
It was first in 2005 when AR ushered in a new era, voting for the legalization of the state’s education lottery. Just 2 years later, in 2007, the state legalized charitable gaming. These two key decisions were the stepping stones for what was to come in the next decade.
In November of 2018, after the PASPA ban was lifted and through a constitutional amendment, the state of Arkansas allowed for the legalization of sports betting. The first bet took place at the Oaklawn Racetrack Casino on July 1st of 2019.
Arkansas Gambling Legal Status
Arkansas is an interesting mixture of a rich history of land-based casino gambling, greyhound betting, and conservatism. The once frowned upon form of entertainment has taken on a new life in the state, with the tables turning in favor of gambling.
While none of the land-based casinos in Hot Springs were ever resuscitated, Arkansas saw it fit to allow for 2 legal racetrack casinos that are currently in operation and now offer sportsbooks. To play these you must be at least 21 years of age or older.
The state lottery in Arkansas is legal, as is race betting, for which players need only be 18 to play.
Daily Fantasy Sports is legal, players must be at least 21 years of age.
As of right now, no forms of online gambling are permitted in AR aside from daily fantasy sports. If future changes in state law permit for sports betting to go virtual, it may open the door for other forms of online gambling as well.
Arkansas Legal Land-Based Casinos
While none of the land-based casinos of Hot Springs were ever brought back, the state decided to allow for casino gaming to take place inside of racetracks. Today, Arkansas is home to two race track casinos.
- Oaklawn Racing and Gaming
- Southland Park Gaming and Racing
Arkansas Legal Sports Betting and Daily Fantasy Sports
Thanks to Arkansas voters, sports betting was made legal in the state as of 2018, with the first sports bet taking place on July 1st of 2019. This will allow for the states two racetrack casinos to operate sportsbooks, with Oaklawn’s already launched. State law in Arkansas allows for up to 4 sportsbooks, so it should be interesting to see what’s to come.
Daily fantasy sports is legal in Arkansas as well, and is the only form of online gambling to existing in the state.
Arkansas Legal Gambling FAQ’s
What am I allowed to bet on legally in the state of Arkansas
The following are the current forms allowed to legally gamble on in the state of AR:
- Land-based casino gaming at the states 2 licensed racetrack casinos.
- Sports betting.
- State lottery.
- Horse and greyhound race betting.
- Daily Fantasy Sports.