As one of the more traditionally conservative states of the USA, there might be some expectations that Arkansas would not be one to adopt sports betting and other types of gambling legislation easily. However, this isn’t the case.
Arkansas Sports Betting
Arkansas sports betting is legal and thriving across many parts of the Natural State. With in-person sports betting has been available since 2019, the state has finally launched mobile sports betting too. With the market set to grow and expand, the sports betting scene in Arkansas might be about to come into its own.
Best Arkansas Sportsbook
If you are an Arkansas resident, the best online sports betting is listed below. All of the online sports betting websites listed below are legal sports betting sites.
DraftKings Arkansas Sportsbook
There is no doubt that DraftKings is a quality daily fantasy sports site and is already one of the industry’s heavyweights. In addition to daily fantasy sports, DraftKings also has a significant online sport betting presence. The DraftKings Arkansas Sportsbook app is one of the most popular sportsbook apps in every state in which it has been licensed and operates, thanks to its user-friendly mobile app for players and its generous bonus offers.
It was announced that DraftKings was merging with SBTech, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort’s partner in the sports betting industry. There is no question that the fact that DraftKings will be attending the meeting of the Arkansas Racing Commission in December 2021 is most likely indicates that the company is planning to offer its service in Arkansas.
FanDuel Arkansas Sportsbook
FanDuel, along with its competitor DraftKings, is a significant player in the field of daily fantasy sports in Arkansas. It is also one of the most prominent providers of online sports betting in North America. As a user in Arkansas, you can expect to find FanDuel offers a number of daily promotions, a wide selection of options for both deposits and withdrawals, as well as a mobile app that is user-friendly.
FanDuel has moved from being a daily fantasy sports (DFS) provider to a full-service gambling company over the past few years. In several regions across the country, we have seen this app rise to the top of the market because of its easy-to-use app and the many promotional offers.
At both Southland Casino Racing and Saracen Casino Resort, IGT, a provider of gaming technology, is also responsible for the management of sports betting operations. IGT and FanDuel have previously entered into a partnership.
BetMGM Arkansas Sportsbook
There is no doubt that the aggressive expansion and ongoing promotions of the online gaming division of the gambling giant MGM Resorts International is resulting in continued market share gains for the company. The site is among the top three sports betting sites in neighboring Tennessee (along with DraftKings and FanDuel) regarding how much money is earned on online sports betting. The BetMGM Arkansas betting app would make it a significant force in the market.
In addition to its presence in the region, MGM manages two casinos in the neighboring state of Mississippi, which is also present in the area. The company also disclosed its plans by attending the Arkansas Racing Commission’s December 2021 meeting, revealing its intentions. By attending the meeting, the company demonstrated its interest in the state.
Caesars Arkansas Sportsbook
Throughout its history, Caesars has formed partnerships with the Cherokee Nation in several states, and the Cherokee Nation has just been granted a license for a casino in Pope County. Caesars owns and operates casinos in Nevada as well as Mississippi. Several Caesars Arkansas’s most generous welcome bonus offers are available through its sportsbook app, and its rewards program is among the most popular in the industry. A Caesar’s AR online sportsbook would likely provide a generous welcome bonus, similar to the one described above.
As part of Caesars Entertainment, one of the biggest gambling companies in the world, Caesars Sportsbook is the sports betting division of the company. It should be noted that Caesars is already affiliated with Gulfside Casino Partnership, which will soon take over ownership and operations of River Valley Casino in Russellville, Arkansas. With the opening of this casino, it will become the fourth casino in the state of Arkansas.
TwinSpires Arkansas Sportsbook
A partnership between Churchill Downs Inc., the parent company of TwinSpires, and Oaklawn Racing & Casino Resort in Hot Springs has been formed to operate the property’s land-based sportsbook. Churchill Downs is most well known for hosting the Kentucky Derby and offering pari-mutuel wagering.
However, the company has also been operating a rapidly expanding online sports betting business in over half a dozen states. Given the popularity of horse betting in Arkansas, it is no surprise that the TwinSpires Arkansas betting app appears to be a promising platform for online sports betting, especially since it is integrated with Facebook.
Legal Online Arkansas Sports Betting
Legal online sports betting is an incredibly new development in North America. The state only gave it the green light in February, which made many operators scramble to set up a platform in time for the all-important March Madness season.
The current mobile betting options available to an Arkansas resident are the online sportsbook platforms from the three casinos in the state that also have legal in-house sports wagering. These are the Oaklawn Sportsbook at the Oakland Racing Casino Resort, the Saracen Sportsbook at the Saracen Casino Resort, and the Betly Sportsbook at Southland Casino.
According to the legislation laid out for the launch of mobile betting, Arkansas sports betting operators must share at least 51% of their mobile betting revenue with a partnership from a casino. This means that it might take a while for some of the other major online sportsbooks to take a while to set up in the Natural State, as they may have to get this key partnership with a casino first.
However, major operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel – who have also established a presence through daily fantasy sports – might be on the hunt for ways in which they can comfortably do so. The casinos are allowed to partner with two individual sportsbooks, so this might be an option for them to pursue, but that 51% revenue share might put more than a few off first.
For now, bettors in Arkansas have the choice of the three sports betting app providers from the brands mentioned above. Players in Arkansas must be aged 21 or older. Using one of the mobile apps for gambling in this state is likely to be geo-locked, so it will not work beyond stated borders.
How To Pick an Arkansas Sportsbook
With only three options available now, there isn’t much on offer in terms of choice for the Arkansas betting. Sports betting is only permitted on collegiate and professional games, not entertainment or political events, so it is worth investigating each sportsbook to see what they can offer individually.
With bets available across major franchises like the NFL and the NBA, tracking down a site that offers the bets you wish to make should not be too difficult. These sites can also offer bets on other sporting events beyond what is available in the USA, such as specific European soccer tournaments.
If a player has an affinity for a particular casino, this should be the first place they consider when looking for a site where they can enjoy some Arkansas sports betting. However, if there is no such loyalty in place, it might come down to the odds or promotions on offer that will swing a bettor’s attention towards a particular site.
History / Timeline Of Sports Betting in Arkansas
The options available to bettors now are slightly surprised when considering the state’s history. Arkansas sports betting was banned by the state’s constitution for a long time. When the state was initially formed in 1874, an article stipulated that all lotteries would be banned from operating within the state.
However, this was not the clearest of terms, and the exploits were found fairly quickly. By the end of the 20 th century, Arkansas was home to several racetracks. Despite a ban on horse racing in 1907, the Great Depression brought interest back to it. In 1934, pari-mutuel betting was allowed here, and in 1956, amendments were made to the state constitution that would allow legal horse racing, with greyhound tracks also beginning to open up.
In 2005, changes to the laws allowed racetracks to offer gaming machines with games such as slots, poker, and other popular table games. But what about sports betting?
As with other states, Arkansas sports betting was taken off the table by introducing the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This legislation banned all but four states from setting up and offering sports betting. In 2018, the Supreme Court deemed this act unconstitutional and overturned it. States like Arkansas, which might have otherwise never considered setting up sports betting, were now able to do so freely.
The journey to Arkansas sports betting began with a move to make this type of betting legal in November 2018 following a vote put to the public. Legal sports betting then launched at the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in July 2019, thanks to a bet from the general manager Wayne Smith. The following locations followed shortly after.
However, at this point, sports betting was only available to players if they were to visit an in-house casino. Another vote in December 2021 indicated that there would be a lot of support for mobile sports betting if it was to launch. Discussions were undertaken by the Arkansas Racing Commission, which oversees sports betting and other types of gambling within the Natural State. They gave the green light in February 2022 to launch mobile sports betting.
Arkansas Sports Teams
Arkansas is not home to many major professional teams like many other states. However, this does not stop the population here from massive supporters of teams from other states. There are major NFL teams in neighboring Texas, Missouri, and Tennessee, plus teams for other sports franchises like the NBA.
Historically, there have also been many ties to baseball within the state. Between 1886 and the 1920s, the state hosted the MLB spring training at Hot Springs. Nowadays, two minor league baseball teams – the Arkansas Travelers and the NWA Naturals – have a home in this state.
Collegiate betting is a legal form of Arkansas sports betting, and this is most likely because the state has such a rich culture in college sports. Many major universities play in some football division, with the Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas both fielding teams for the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. The latter, the Arkansas Razorbacks, is also held up as one of the major public images of the state too.
Retail Sports Betting in Arkansas
Four of the most populated cities in Arkansas are within a one-hour drive of a sportsbook, so if it is retail sports betting that you are after, you might not be too far from it in the Natural State. Each of these sportsbooks is also not just a sports betting retail location but part of a much wider facility.
The Oakland Racing Casino Resort is home to the Oaklawn Sportsbook. There are two betting facilities in the broader resort complex. Players can head to the sportsbook in the casino or the Sports Tavern. They offer up to 300 wagering options per game, with live betting available across major sports franchises. The sports kiosks are open 24/7, but the in-person counters are only open at selected hours.
The Saracen Sportsbook can be found as part of the more expansive Saracen Casino Resort. They offer bets across various sports, from college football and baseball to truck racing and the World Cup. There are 16 kiosks in the resort plus a 25-foot video wall allowing bettors to check in with their favorite games.
Finally, the Betly Sportsbook is at the Southland Casino. Here, the betting can be found at the Sports Bar & Grill. As with other locations within the state, sports betting kiosks here can offer the chance to pick up a wager 24/7. If bettors would rather pay through one of the on-property tellers, they will only be able to do so within certain business hours.
New casinos have been commissioned within the Natural State. Should they open, there is a strong chance that legal Arkansas sports betting will be one of the offers available for players here.
The Saracen Casino is the only tribal casino owned and operated by a Native American tribe, though more might open in the future. When sports gambling was legalized in November 2018, four licenses were offered for casinos and gambling facilities in this state.
The Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma applied for one of these licenses successfully. This allowed them to build and begin to operate the Saracen Casino. They are not the only tribe to make such an application. The Cherokee Nation has also been granted a license to build and operate a casino in Arkansas. They intend to do so in Russellville, with the proposed casino called Legends Resort Casino Arkansas.
As sports betting grows in the Natural State, we may see the government and gaming commission creating more licenses to help meet the market’s demands. Should they choose, we will likely see more tribes applying for the chance to open a casino brand in this flourishing market.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Arkansas is one of the states that has taken steps to explicitly legalize daily fantasy sports. Though this type of gaming is available in many places across the USA, it has not always been legalized by state governments. However, brands have decided to operate in a legal gray zone without an explicit ban.
Act 1075 of 2017 introduced legal daily fantasy sports betting to Arkansas. Companies who wish to offer their games here must pay an 8% tax on gross revenues. Major daily fantasy sports operators like FanDuel and DraftKings have a presence here. These two are also two of the major sportsbook operators within the USA. So it is surprising that they have not launched a sportsbook with an Arkansas casino yet. They were even instrumental in the discussions to launch mobile sports betting.
That 51% revenue share might be the factor holding them back. Should this stipulation change, we might see companies like FanDuel and DraftKings moving to offer both their daily fantasy sports and wider sports betting here.
Offshore Sports Betting
Players have a wide range of betting options for Arkansas sports betting, including some offshore betting options. What needs to be avoided are the unregulated sites. These might appear good places to bet on the surface, but they are not licensed and overseen by any governing bodies. Therefore, they are operating illegally and cannot be considered safe places to play.
If you are looking for an offshore betting destination, it is wise to look for one licensed by one of the regulators in a destination such as Curaçao or Costa Rica. These might offer the platform you are searching for.
However, with the launch of mobile sports betting and the quality of platforms emerging, there is no real reason why you would wish to head to an offshore site. The market is small as there are only three apps, but it is growing extremely quickly. As it expands, we will likely see more brands become available to players. Even those three brands currently offering mobile apps have plenty to offer players. If you are a bettor in Arkansas, you can go to an offshore site if you wish – but there is plenty on offer from the brands within the state borders that might interest you.
Arkansas Horse Racing & Off-Track Betting
Arkansas is home to one major horse racing track Oaklawn Park. Though you might be headed here for the sportsbook or casino, you will also find plenty of races, especially during the high-profile winter meet.
The Arkansas Derby also takes place here. This prestigious race is one of the qualifiers for the iconic Kentucky Derby, with many patrons coming for a glimpse of some runners who might grace the racetrack of Churchill Downs.
The other major racing destination in Arkansas is at the Southland Casino, but it is greyhound racing one will find here and not horses. In addition to the live races on the track, patrons can also find simulcast broadcasts from meets around the United States. However, greyhound racing will not be around for much longer. An agreement has been reached that this racing portion will end in December 2022.
There are currently no off-track racing facilities in Arkansas. Anyone wishing to engage in racing bets must head to the facilities in person or go to one partnered mobile site.
Final Thoughts / Summary
Though it might not have any major sports teams, there is no denying that Arkansas is fast becoming a significant hub of sports betting. A passion for sports runs deep with the people here, allowing Arkansas sports betting to be accepted at its level. Though only three sportsbooks are currently available, we will undoubtedly see this number increase in the future.
One aspect that might influence the decisions of many brands who wish to set up here in the Natural State will undoubtedly be that 51% revenue share. Generally, brands who partner with casinos to create sportsbooks will not have to pay nearly so much to the casinos hosting them. Currently, it is more favorable for a casino brand to develop its sports betting brand and manage the sportsbook themselves. This will likely be something that needs to change if we see significant brands like William Hill or Caesars Entertainment consider Arkansas sports betting as something for them.
Ultimately, the state could end up stunting its growth. It has been proven that there is a great market here, with plenty of people willing to bet, but if there are no facilities to handle them, it won’t happen. Even the introduction of mobile betting might not be able to facilitate Arkansas players in the way that they need.
For this reason, we might see fresh pressure applied to the Arkansas Racing Commission shortly to amend this revenue share and bring it down. We will likely see betting in the Natural State continue its meteoric growth if they do so. Even with just the three brands on offer here, they have proven an excellent market available for Arkansas sports betting.