Sports, and by extension sportsbetting, is not a booming industry in Arkansas. State rules and regulations make it hard to enjoy the frills of gambling, while the absence of too many major sporting organizations inherently drive down the interest in this mountain-time province. To wit: There are no professional sports franchises in Arkansas. Not only that, but their rooting interests lie all over place. By and large, the most prevalent NFL team is the Dallas Cowboys.
In the NBA, it's the Memphis Grizzlies. And in MLB, it's the St. Louis Cardinals. Considering this diluted loyalty, with no one inter-state bailiwick drawing a lion's share of fan support, it's no surprise Arkansas isn't a hotbed for gambling of any type.
Arkansas Sports Betting Law
Arkansas is one of the most limiting states in the USA when it comes to betting allowances. Everything you can think of is basically illegal. There are a few establishments that offer electronic games, but no commercially or tribal-sanctioned casinos. Charitable gambling is allowed, often in the form of bingo nights and fundraising events that include table games or raffles, but the licensing process can be convoluted. Though many people have called for modifications, in the form of modernization, of these archaic rules, no alterations appear to be on the horizon. A bill to amend some of the laws and interpretations was proposed in April 2017 and swiftly vetoed.
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No Real Casinos in Arkansas
There are no true casinos in Arkansas, either commercially or tribal operated. There are two quasi-casinos that traffic in horse and dog racing, in addition to some slot machines and video poker, blackjack, etc. But that's really it. You won't find a full-service sportsbook at any of these establishments, nor does the state have any person-manned table games.
Online Gambling Is Neither Prohibited Nor Allowed
As is the case in many different states, Arkansas' gambling regulations are so dated they don't include an official nod to online gaming organizations—other than daily fantasy sports gambling.
Similar to Arizona, among a few other places, Arkansas doesn't consider wagering on these FanDuel-type or individual-assembled leagues to be a form of betting.
Their official stance is that too much skill is involved when partaking in these games, so it cannot be construed entirely as a contest of chance.
Still: It's a little weird that they recognize fantasy sports gambling at all. If you're going to unofficially give your blessing to an activity that isn't considered gambling, the state should also put something in explicit writing to decry online casinos and sportsbooks. Alas, Arkanas hasn't, which essentially acts as tacit permission for you to test the internet gaming industry at your leisure.
Fuzziness on Legal Forms of Gambling
Arkansas does have a state lottery, and their dog- and horse-racing scenes are much stronger than those in most other places. And, once again, charitable gambling is allowed with the proper licenses. The kicker: Social gambling is considered taboo.
Poker nights at your place, football pools, etc.—all of these activities are technically listed as illegal. Nevermind that this stance is pointless because it's nearly impossible to monitor unless someone is running a full-fledged casino out of their backdoor; the fact that Arkansas allows fantasy sports betting but not social gambling is the highest form of bizarre there can be.
Loopholes That Are Demanding State-wide Change
Two things are happening in and around Arkansas that have many people calling for betting reform. First, gas stations are implementing electronic-style games similar to those found in Arkansas' faux casinos—or whatever you want to call them. While these should technically be illegal, rewards from these machines typically come in store credit, so proprietors are arguing that it cannot be counted as gambling.
On top of that, more official gambling and betting establishments are cropping up closer to state borders. Some people needn't go far at all if they're jonesing for some games of chance.
The argument now becomes a matter of why Arkansas doesn't want to make money—via taxes—off these stores generating revenue from glorified electronic lotteries and gambling establishments that could pop up inside stateside lines. There isn't a good reason to perpetuate such a stubborn view on betting, and yet, perhaps because of how difficult it is to monitor and regulate, most forms of on-site gambling are patented no-nos.
Arkansas Gambling Law Overview
Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren't allowed in Arkansas at this time.
- Casino Gambling: Not legal (except for Tribal)
- Tribal Gambling: Legal
- Poker: Not legal
- Horse-Race Betting: Legal
- Dog-Race Betting: Legal
- Lottery: Legal
- Daily Fantasy Betting: Not legal
- Social Gambling: Legal
- Charitable Gambling: Legal
- Online Gambling: Unspecified (so, basically, legal)
Arkansas Sports Teams
Arkansas Razorbacks (College Football)
The Razorbacks football team from the University of Arkansas is the most popular sporting squad in the state. They have been to bowl games in three consecutive years, posting a 2-1 record, under current head coach Brett Bielema and are one of the most relevant teams in the famed SEC Conference.
Arizona Razorbacks (College Basketball)
Seldom does the same college from a lowly populated state warrant distinction in two different sports, but the University of Arkansas is an exception. Their men's basketball team is fairly recognizable on a national scale, with two NCAA Tournament appearances in the last three years. They've yet to ever make it out of the third round as a school, but they have posted seven straight winning seasons.
Arkansas Travelers (Minor League Baseball)
The Arkansas Travelers are a minor league baseball team based out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Their professional affiliate is the Seattle Mariners, and while they aren't the most common rehab spot for injured MLB players, they are surprisingly popular in a state that doesn't prioritize baseball as one of its favorite sports.
Arkansas' Biggest Sporting Event
Don't mock it. This is what happen when you're a state barren of professional teams and more than a couple collegiate powerhouses. After the annual state fair—which, for the record, is a big tourist attraction—it's the world cardboard boat racing championships.