A state that has struggled to keep up with gambling demand, Arkansas has often lost many players to neighboring Louisiana and Mississippi, but with the introduction of physical and online sports betting, the tide is slowly turning for The Natural State.
Historically known for its more conservative stance on gambling entertainment, the high demand for sports betting eventually pushed lawmakers to take action and give the people what they wanted.
Top 3 Arkansas Sportsbook Sites
Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Arkansas?
As of July 2019, sports betting in Arkansas was legalized, after the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was deemed unconstitutional in May 2018. When PASPA came into effect in 1992, it prevented states from having legal and regulated sports betting. Unlike the state of Nevada that was grandfathered into this new law, all other states had to wait over 25 years to get a chance to open up the market locally.
Before the landmark decision to strike down PASPA, anyone in Arkansas who wanted to participate in sports gambling had to settle for offshore online sports betting sites. Since the sports betting laws were vague on the legality of offshore sports betting, many players chose to give it a shot. This had the state miss out on millions of dollars in gambling revenue.
Today, there are yet to be any official Arkansas online sports betting sites that accept more than horse and greyhound races. Mobile apps were another option that was being tossed around, though there are no immediate plans to move forward with it. Even though sports betting is now legal in the state, it will still be a while before it is fully off the ground. Until that day, offshore online sports betting sites are still available for players in the US. We anticipate an amount of $15.3m to be wagered in the year 2020 (as per H2 Gambling Capital, H2GC.com)
While sports betting was still illegal in the state, lawmakers were at least able to legalize daily fantasy sports in 2017. As one of the first states in the country to move forward with daily fantasy sports, it managed to keep a steady revenue stream in the state.
Timeline of Sports Betting in Arkansas
- 1890 – Horse racing began due to a loophole in the Arkansas Constitution
- 1907 – Horse racing was outlawed by the Citizens Improvement Union bill
- 1935 – Pari-mutuel betting and greyhound racing were approved in the state
- 2017 – Daily fantasy sports was approved which allowed people to bet real money online
- 2018 – The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was struck down, allowing states to legally open up a sports betting market
- 2019 – Sports betting was approved in the state
- 2020 – The established casinos/racinos in Arkansas are currently the only brick and mortar locations that can accept sports bets. Regulations are slowly being worked out for a release of an online sportsbook site and app
How to Get Started in Sports Betting
Anyone new to sports betting will find themselves faced with lots of game options and wager possibilities. To get started off on the right foot, there are a few things to consider before diving in headfirst.
Look for Popular Sites
With so many offshore online sports betting sites out there, it can feel overwhelming to find one that can be trusted. A simple way to get started is by searching for sites that have a good reputation with players. There are lots of sports betting sites that accept players from the US, and most of them will have reviews from people who are more than happy to talk about their personal experience on the site.
Current ratings and reviews will often give good insight into how user-friendly the site is, the types of sports and games available, the wager options, banking options, and even customer support.
Test the Waters with Free Games
Online sportsbooks will have to keep up with competition and one way they do this is by offering their members special bonus offers and promotions. As a way to try out wagers without investing any money, players should always take advantage of no deposit bonuses or free play promos. To find them, check out the site’s promotions page, which is normally found on the main page or on the main menu.
Often given to new sign ups and loyal site members, no deposit bonuses essentially give players free money without the need to deposit funds themselves. To make the most of these bonuses, players should always carefully read the terms and conditions, and bet on the games stipulated or a chosen favorite they are familiar with.
Stick to Familiar Sports
Sports betting is a fun and entertaining way of gambling some money but can feel pretty intimidating for anyone new to the scene. With dozens of different sports and multiple wager options available for each game, new players can easily get lost with what they should do, which could lead to some upsetting results.
As a way to start slow, players should first focus on the sports they are most familiar with. Knowing the game, players, and the rules make a big difference when placing a wager. Unfamiliar sports and plays might seem like a fun challenge but should only be considered after getting comfortable with the basics.
Look at Tutorials
As a way to get familiar with the different types of wagers there are in sports betting, most of the popular sites will have a series of tutorials and help pages filled with information on bet types, betting tips, and sometimes even have a glossary of terms related to sports betting. This is the perfect way to learn as much as possible before getting into bigger wagers.
Another way members can get an edge in their bets is by reading through the blogs or newsreels that sites have. This will help stay on top of what is going on in sports and with teams that have upcoming games.
Stick to a Budget
A gambling budget is pretty much a fool-proof way of having fun without spending cash that might be better used elsewhere. No one wants to stress out when gambling with their money, it defeats the purpose of adding a little extra excitement to sports. With a budget, players will have a set amount they are comfortable using in sports bets, and even if all of it was lost, it will not affect their quality of life.
For anyone needing help figuring out what would be a good budget or try a limit system, many sites offer help to keep sports gambling under control. Check out the help pages or contact customer support for information on how the sportsbook can help.
Sports Betting and Taxes
A common question asked by lots of people every year is, “Do I have to pay taxes on offshore gambling winnings?”. The short answer is, yes. Since there is often little information about taxes on gambling winnings outside the US, most players just assume they do not have to pay them and omit those winnings when tax season rolls around.
According to the IRS, all gambling winnings, regardless of how much or how little it may be, must be included every fiscal year. While placing bets on sports at offshore online sports betting sites is a convenient workaround for players who are still waiting for Arkansas to launch an online sports betting option, they are still subject to taxes on any winnings, even when earned from overseas.
Most online sports betting sites will have some information posted about reporting winnings to the IRS, however, the online sportsbook will not report any winnings on a player’s behalf. Players can always contact customer support for information about a certificate of winnings or contact the IRS directly to find out accurate information about taxes on gambling winnings.
The Future of Sports Betting in Arkansas
While it was a groundbreaking result to finally legalize sports betting in what is known to be a historically conservative state, Arkansas still has a long way to go to compete with states like Nevada, Mississippi, New Jersey, and New Mexico.
The current steps being taken are in the right direction and many Arkansans are eagerly waiting for the market to expand. With just a few brick and mortar sportsbooks available and no online website or app alternatives, there are not enough accessible options to keep everyone happy.
Once mobile and online betting are up and running, the next step would be to expand on the sports offerings to give players even more variety in their bets, but also support all local teams. Right now, Arkansas allows wagers on professional sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, MMA …), along with college-level sports in the country.
With the growing popularity of esports and entertainment betting, players hope it is just a matter of time before the state will consider accepting these options to appeal to a greater gambling market that normally would not wager on standard sports. Not only would this improve the challenge and variety in sports betting but open the market to even greater revenue returns to the state.
What about Mobile Sports Betting Apps?
Unfortunately mobile sports betting apps is an illegal form of delivery in Arkansas, unless the bet is placed at the premise of a licensed venue. Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is developing a sports betting app with the expertise of SBTech and is expected to be released this year.
Arkansas Online Sports Betting
Unfortunately online sports betting is an illegal form of delivery in Arkansas, unless the bet is place at the vicinity of a licensed venue.
Arkansas On-site Sports Betting
All sports bets must be placed on-site at approved and licensed sports betting providers.
Currently approved are:
- two race tracks
- two casinos (which includes Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and Saracen Casino Annex)
Arkansas Sports Betting Kiosks
Since the Racing Commission has yet to rule in favor of off-site mobile sports betting apps, license sportsbook venues are installing sports betting kiosks. These kiosks are really easy to use.
How to Place a Bet
1. At the digital kiosk drag and tap the screen (hence the name touchscreen). In doing so you will be able to move around and select the sports betting option you would like to pick.
2. Once you have chosen your sports betting option, tap on it to select it.
3. Click on place an amount.
4. Enter the amount you would like to bet.
5. If paying by cash, slide your notes into the cash receipt acceptor that is located towards the bottom of the kiosk.
6. Wait for the sports bet receipt to be printed.
7. Collect the receipt and wait for the results of the game!
8. If you win, take your receipt to the sports betting window and collect your winnings!
- OROR has 20 betting kiosks
- Mobile Betting App to be launched later this year.
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort was the first move in the sports betting industry in Arkansas. The first to launch it’s sports betting book, partnering SBTech, they have installed 20 kiosks all around the casino that accepts sport bets on a wide variety of games, that includes the NFL, NBA, college games and many others.
Later during this year, Oaklawn intends to launch a mobile sports betting app, however users of this app must be physically located at the Oaklawn premise.
Oaklawn has launched one betting app, called the Oaklawn Anywhere app however, this is only permitted for horse race betting.
- The Casino has yet to be completely built.
- But the sports center is open and available.
- Betting kiosks are operational to take bets.
In October 2019, Saracen became the second casino to launch it’s sportsbook. Partnering International Game Technology (IGT) together with PlaySports, they have installed several sports betting kiosks at the Saracen Casino Annex Sports Betting Center.
Please note, that the actual casino has yet to be built and is expected to be completed towards the end of 2020.
Sports bets are limited to a maximum of $500 at the kiosks.
Saracen Casino also has on offer a mobile sports betting app. This app can only be used to place a bet if the player is on-site.
Arkansas Sports Betting Laws in Summary
- On July 1, 2019 the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort launched the first legal and operational sportsbook in Arkansas. Other smaller retail outlets are expected to open shortly their sports betting windows in the coming months. The Arkansas Racing Commission has been given the authority to regulate and govern the sports betting industry.
- Mobile online sports betting is illegal and therefore not offered by any sportsbook.
- Previously in November 2018 during the midterm election ballot, state residents voted in a favor of approving expanded casino and sports betting laws. Thereby legalizing sports betting and becoming the eighth state to do so.
- Unfortunately, the Arkansas Racing Commission has not ruled on allowing online or mobile sports betting unless the player is physically at the premise of the licensed sportsbook operator.
- Sports betting revenue will be taxed at 13% for the first $150 million, with a tax rate of 20% for amounts exceeding.
- Each sportsbook operator much purchase a license fee.