Arkansas Sports Betting

Last updated: Jan 10, 2024

Online and retail sports betting are both legal in Arkansas, with retail sportsbooks going live in July 2019. The Arkansas Racing Commission added an initiative to the November 2018 ballot to see if voters wanted retail sports betting at land-based casinos. A 54% majority from this vote legalized retail sports betting in AK. While betting on professional sports was launched without restriction, lawmakers banned betting on in-state college teams. In addition, a 51% tax rate was set for any out-of-state sportsbooks to go live in Arkansas.

It took another three years for online sports betting to be legalized as lawmakers disagreed over whether to remove the ban on in-state college team betting and change the 51% tax rate. The tax rate remained, but college sports betting on any NCAA Division I was legalized with online sports betting. The first online sportsbook launched in March 2022.

The high tax rate for out-of-state operators means that Arkansas has a very unique range of sportsbooks, with local brands like BetSaracen and Oaklawn Sports.

RegulatorLaunch DateTax RateRegistration
Arkansas Racing CommissionRetail – November 6, 2018, Online – February 28, 202213% on first $150 million revenue, 20% on revenue in excess of $150 million, 51% for out-of-state sportsbooksOnline

To learn more about betting in Arkansas, read this complete guide written by our experts, covering the best sportsbooks in AK, which teams to bet on, and the state’s latest betting rules and regulations.

Sports Betting Operators in Arkansas

There are three online sportsbooks in Arkansas, and each operator is partnered with a land-based casino. Retail sports betting launched three years before online in AK, allowing each retail sportsbook brand to build familiarity with bettors before launching a betting app.

None of the major US sportsbooks, like BetMGM and FanDuel, operate in Arkansas. Instead, there is a selection of local brands like BetSaracen and Oaklawn Sports. There is also Betly Sportsbook, which operates in a few other US states. 

Arkansas legislation allows for four retail sportsbooks and eight online licenses, so this market has the potential to grow. You’ll find all the online sportsbooks available in AK below.

NameOperatorLaunch DatePromo Link
Betly SportsbookDelaware NorthMarch 5, 2022
BetSaracenQuapaw NationMay 12, 2022
Oaklawn SportsGAN LimitedSeptember 6, 2022

The main reason why major sportsbooks don’t operate in Arkansas is that out-of-state betting sites must pay a 51% tax rate. This matches the highest tax rates in the US, which is applied in New York and New Hampshire. However, unlike NY, Arkansas is a much smaller market, with a population of just over three million. Meanwhile, New Hampshire offers its sportsbook partner, DraftKings, exclusive access to the NH market. Until lawmakers change regulations to be more friendly to the biggest sportsbook brands, it is unlikely any operators will launch in the Natural State.

Sports Betting in Arkansas

Anyone who wants to bet in Arkansas must follow regulations the Arkansas Racing Commission set down to bet legally. Here is a brief overview of the rules you need to follow in AK.

Yes, online sports betting is legal in Arkansas. Online sports betting was legalized on February 28, 2022, and three betting sites are now licensed to provide betting. Betly Sportsbook was the first operator to go live, launching its betting app in March 2022. BetSaracen followed in May 2022 and Oaklawn Sports in fall 2022. 

What Sports Can You Bet on in Arkansas?

With Arkansas sportsbooks, you can bet on a wide range of professional sports played in the US and across the globe. This includes major leagues like the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. There are also markets for other popular US sports like NASCAR, MMA, and soccer. 

Even in states where professional sports betting is legal, some states will apply different restrictions to college sports. These include prohibiting player prop bets and banning betting on in-state teams. However, Arkansas doesn’t have these restrictions on NCAA betting. This means you can back teams like the University of Arkansas Razorbacks from anywhere in the state.

Who Can Bet on Sports in Arkansas?

You must be 21 or older and within state lines to bet on sports in Arkansas. Every sportsbook will require you to enable geolocation services on your mobile to prove you are playing where it is legal. In addition, some people are prohibited from playing, including anyone on the AK self-exclusion list. You also can’t bet if your criminal record bans betting. 

You also can’t bet if you are a member of a professional or college sports team. This includes players, coaches, and anyone else employed by the team. You also aren’t allowed to wager if you work for a rule-creating league like the NBA or NCAA. There are three retail sportsbooks in AK. If you work for one of these sportsbooks, you are prohibited from betting. This also applies to anyone working in a casino with a retail sportsbook.

Official League Data Usage in Arkansas?

Most US sportsbooks partner with Genius Sports, which provides official league data for major leagues like the NFL. This improves your in-play betting experience by delivering the most up-to-date and accurate stats. However, none of the betting sites in AK have partnered with Genius Sports.

Arkansas Sports Betting Handle

A sports betting handle tells you how much has been wagered on sports over a specific period and is a great way to gauge interest in betting. The most significant point in Arkansas’ betting handle is the jump up from 2021 to 2022. Online sports betting was legalized in February 2022, and the increased betting handles show its popularity.

MonthHandle
July 2019$416,160
August 2019$778,249
September 2019$2,252,196
October 2019$2,216,369
November 2019$2,978,235
December 2019$2,633,806
January 2020$2,587,732
February 2020$4,294,366
March 2020$1,588,403
April 2020Nil (Sportsbooks closed due to Covid-19)
May 2020$509
June 2020$1,189
July 2020$179,315
August 2020$1,008,992
September 2020$3,958,748
October 2020$6,559,859
November 2020$6,288,249
December 2020$6,415,446
January 2021$7,187,194
February 2021$4,469,442
March 2021$5,947,427
April 2021$4,065,703
May 2021$3,687,207
June 2021$3,895,683
July 2021$2,908,833
August 2021$2,892,285
September 2021$7,007,774
October 2021$9,506,183
November 2021$8,380,191
December 2021$7,794,292
January 2022$8,415,932
February 2022$5,876,444
March 2022$10,686,501
April 2022$8,598,226
May 2022$10,185,647
June 2022$12,632,207
July 2022$9,290,467
August 2022$10,195,911
September 2022$21,185,547
October 2022$26,879,107

Legislation Timeline

May 14, 2018: The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) is overturned by the US Supreme Court. When PASPA was introduced, it stopped all states from Nevada and a few others from offering sports betting. Following the US Supreme Court’s PASPA decision, every state in the US can legalize sports betting.

November 6, 2018: The decision on whether to legalize retail sports betting is put to the Arkansas public. Arkansas Issue 4, “Casinos Authorized in Crittenden, Garland, Pope, and Jefferson Counties Initiative” asks the public whether retail sports betting should be allowed in the two existing AK casinos and allow two new casinos to be built. The bill passes the public by 54% to 46%, and then Governor Asa Hutchinson signs it into law. 

July 2019: Oaklawn Racing Casino opens its retail sportsbook, Oaklawn Sports, which accepts the first legal bets in Arkansas. 

January 27, 2020: Southland Casino in West Memphis opens its sportsbook, Betly, making it the second legal retail sportsbook in Arkansas. 

March 31, 2020: The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic closes all casinos in Arkansas, so no sports betting can take place. 

October 24, 2020: Saracen Casino Resort opens its brand-new casino and retail sportsbook to the public. 

December 2021: The Arkansas Racing Commission votes to allow online sports betting in the state. 

January 2022: Two details about online sports betting are discussed by lawmakers. One of the first issues is whether to legalize in-state college sports betting, which is illegal in Ak. The other is a proposed 51% tax rate for out-of-state sportsbooks.

February 28, 2022: Online sports betting is legalized in Arkansas. In-state collegiate betting is legalized, and the 51% tax rate for out-of-state sportsbooks remains. 

March 5, 2022: Betly Sportsbook, the sports betting partner of Southland Racing Casino, is the first online sportsbook to open in Arkansas. Initially, Betly launches a desktop-only platform, but a Betly betting app goes live in April. 

May 11, 2022: BetSaracen launches its online sportsbook in Arkansas.

September 6, 2022: Oaklawn Sports goes live with its online sportsbook in time for the 2022 NFL season. Every retail sportsbook has an online presence in AK.

Arkansas Sports Teams

There are no professional sports teams from the big four leagues based in Arkansas, so sports fans choose to support teams from neighboring states. Here are some of the most popular sports teams that AK players can bet on. 

College Sports Teams

The University of Arkansas Razorbacks are the most popular sports team based in AK. Playing in the SEC, the school is represented across 19 sports. The school is one of the best in the US at track and field, winning 23 national championships for men and women’s indoor track and field, and 13 for outdoor.

The Razorbacks also have a very popular college football team, which claimed a national championship in 1964. The team has also produced plenty of talented players, including Hall of Famers Dan Hampton and Lance Alworth.

The basketball team at the University of Arkansas has also seen plenty of success, winning a national championship in 1994. The program was ranked first in the US when its team claimed victory in the March Madness tournament. Top former players include Hall of Famer Sidney Moncrief and Olympic Gold Medalist Alvin Robertson, and NCAA Tournament winner Corliss Williamson.

Dallas Cowboys logo
Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys were created in 1960 and are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. The team has won five Super Bowls, including a dominant period in the early 1990s when the team claimed three Lombardi trophies in four years. The team had legendary players like Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith driving those successes.

The team may not have won a Super Bowl since 1995, but it has become the most valuable sports franchise in the world under Jerry Jones’ ownership. He hopes to bring a sixth championship back to AT&T Stadium in Arlington soon.

Dallas Mavericks logo
Dallas Mavericks

After joining the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1980, the team spent its first decade challenging in the playoffs. The franchise even reached the conference finals in 1988 but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavs drafted Dirk Nowitzki in the 1998 draft, and he led the team for the next two decades. This culminated in 2011 when the franchise claimed its first NBA Championship. The Mavericks now play behind Luka Doncic, one of the most exciting talents in the NBA.

Texas Rangers logo
Texas Rangers

After beginning in the MLB as the Washington Senators, the team moved to Texas in 1972. The team claimed an AL Pennant in 2010 and 2011 but never won the World Series. The Rangers moved to a new stadium in 2020, Globe Life Field, which has a 40,000 capacity.

Dallas Stars logo
Dallas Stars

While the Dallas Stars are the only NHL team in Texas, the team actually started in 1967 as the Minnesota North Stars. However, the team moved to TX in 1993. The team claimed its only Stanley Cup in 199, beating the Buffalo Sabres.

While the Stars haven’t managed to win the Stanley Cup again, it has been to the final twice, in 2000 and 2020. The franchise has also won two Presidents’ Trophies and eight division championships. 

Memphis Grizzlies logo
Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies are the closest team geographically to Arkansas, with Memphis being right on the Tennessee/Arkansas border. The NBA team was created in 1995 as a part of the league’s expansion into Canada, originally launching as the Vancouver Grizzlies. However, poor attendance encouraged the franchise to find a new location in TN.

The Grizzlies have made the playoffs 12 times since joining the NBA but only won its first division title in 2022. During this season, the franchise also progressed to the conference semifinals for the first time, losing to the Golden State Warriors.

St. Louis Cardinals logo
St. Louis Cardinals

 The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the most successful teams in MLB history, winning 11 World Series and 19 National League Pennants. The team has been based in the city since 1882, taking on its current name in 1900. 

The Cardinals’ best period came from the late 1920s to the early 1930s, when the franchise claimed four NL Pennants in six years, with three World Series victories. That team was led by Branch Rickey’s invention of the farming system, using players in minor leagues to boost the squad. The squad also has some very talented players like Dizzy Dean.

Arkansas Sporting Events

While there are no major league teams in Arkansas, there are still plenty of sports events that draw in lots of fans. Check out some of the most popular sports events in AK below.

Arkansas Derby

The Arkansas Derby is a Grade I horse race held at Oaklawn Park in April each year. It is one of the most prestigious horse races in the American thoroughbred racing calendar outside of the Triple Crown races, with a purse of $1.25 million. Crowds of between 60,000 and 70,000 attend the event, which has seen some all-time great racehorses take the title. None have been more famous than American Pharoah. The Triple Crown and Grand Slam winner won the Arkansas Derby in 2015 before winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, and the Breeders Cup. 

Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

The Walmart NW Arkansas is an LPGA event played at the Pinnacle Country Club since 2007. Only three golfers have won the competition more than once: Stacy Lewis, Yani Tseng, and Nasa Hataoka. The competition has a £2.3 million purse, with the winner collecting $345,000.

FAQs

Yes, you can bet on sports in Arkansas. Retail and online sports betting are both available, with retail sportsbooks going live in July 2019. Every retail sportsbook is located in a licensed brick-and-mortar casino. Online sports betting was legalized in February 2022, and three online sports betting operators live. You can use these betting apps anywhere in AK.

Horse racing betting is legal in Arkansas and has been available for almost 100 years. Oaklawn Park is the state’s most famous horse racetrack, and you can visit to place pari-mutuel or simulcast bets. You can find the same bet types at the Southland Casino racetrack. Online horse racing betting is also available, meaning you can register with operators like TVG or TwinSpires and bet on horse races across the US.

Online and retail sports betting are legal in Arkansas, with operators licensed by the Arkansas Racing Commission. In addition, you can also visit casinos and enjoy gambling with slots and table games. AK lawmakers legalized Daily Fantasy Sports in 2017, which is now available anywhere in the state. Players can also buy tickets for the lottery.

No, DraftKings Sportsbook is not available to play in Arkansas. While sports betting is legal, the sportsbook is not licensed to operate in AK by the Arkansas Racing Commission. However, DraftKings’ Daily Fantasy Sports tournaments are available. In addition, you can travel to nearby states, Tennessee and Louisiana, to bet with DraftKings.

You must be 21 or older to bet on sports in Arkansas or step onto a casino floor. However, if you are 18 or older, you can still enjoy pari-mutuel betting on horse racing or playing in Daily Fantasy Sports competitions. You will need to provide a photo ID to prove your age, whether you play in person or online.

No, you can’t use BetMGM in Arkansas, because it is not licensed by the state’s regulatory body. However, you can visit Tennessee or Louisiana to use BetMGM’s betting app. There are also two retail BetMGM Sportsbooks in Mississippi at the Gold Strike Casino Resort and Beau Rivage Resort and Casino.

FanDuel Sportsbook is not legal in Arkansas because the operator has not applied for a betting license. However, you can play FanDuel’s Daily Fantasy Sports games legally in AK. In addition, FanDuel is available online in Arkansas’ neighboring states, Louisiana and Tennessee.

The Arkansas Racing Commission oversees sports betting in Arkansas, creating new rules for sportsbooks to follow and ensuring licensed operators are providing safe betting. This includes strict regular testing of every online and retail sportsbook. The Commission also decides which sports betting sites can offer.

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