Arkansas Legal Sports Betting Overview
AR Sports Betting Law Details
- Retail Sports Betting Launch Date: July 9, 2019
- Online Sports Betting Launch Date: March 5, 2022
- Licensed Sportsbooks: Betly, BetSaracen, Oaklawn Racing Casino (retail only)
- Legal Wagering Options: Futures, moneylines, parlays, point spreads, same game parlays, teasers, totals
- Legal Gambling Age in AR: 21+
- Sports to Bet On: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, MMA, tennis, golf, boxing, NASCAR, Formula 1, cricket, European soccer, college sports, rodeo, rugby, lacrosse, motorcycle racing, truck racing, bull riding, air racing, arena football, Pro Bowling Tour
- Permitted Banking Options: Mastercard, PayNearMe, Play+, Skrill, Visa
- Arkansas Gambling Regulator: Arkansas Racing Commission
Arkansas Sports Betting Summary
Arkansas legalized retail sports betting following a November 2018 vote on launching casinos in the Natural State. This came after the US Supreme Court had struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protect Act of 1992 (PASPA) in May 2018, thus allowing individual states to legislate wagering and launch retail and online sportsbooks. Issue 4 was amended following a public vote and the first retail sportsbook in AR opened in July 2019 at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. There are currently three retail sportsbooks at casinos and racinos in Arkansas, with a fourth under construction.
The Arkansas Racing Commission proposed changes to sports betting rules to allow online betting sites in 2021. The alterations were approved by the Legislatureâ€™s Joint Budget Committee in February 2022. Betly became the first online sportsbook to launch in AR just a month later. Current Arkansas regulations require sportsbooks to share 51% of revenue with a partner casino.
Read our complete guide to sports betting in Arkansas to discover the best AR sportsbooks, the latest rules and regulations, and the top sports teams to bet on.
Arkansas Online Sportsbooks Compared
There are two online sportsbooks available in Arkansas â€“ Betly and BetSaracen. A third app, Oaklawn Sports, is due to launch in 2022. Personal preference is key to selecting a betting site, so weâ€™ve compared the sportsbooks across some key factors to help you choose the best option for you:
Best Mobile App â€“ Betly
Betly provides a simple-to-use app that is perfect for beginner bettors. Navigation is easy, and the dark grey color scheme with shades of white makes everything comfortable to read. Betlyâ€™s mobile app works on screens of any size, providing a tailored betting experience on your tablet and your phone.
Best Welcome Bonus â€“ Betly
Betly offers you an excellent value welcome bonus with a $250 risk-free bet. All you must do is sign up, deposit, and place a wager up to $250. If the bet wins, you get to keep your money. However, you earn a free bet equal to your original stake if it loses. You must bet on an event with -250 odds or greater, and you canâ€™t cash out your first bet. When you wager with free bets, you get to keep your profits. However, this doesnâ€™t include the value of the free bet.
Best for Competitive Odds â€“ BetSaracen
Both Arkansas sportsbooks offer excellent betting odds, but BetSaracen has a slight advantage. Youâ€™ll find competitive betting lines on all the major league sports, and the sportsbookâ€™s run lines on MLB games are some of the best you can find. BetSaracen also provides excellent betting lines on niche sports, particularly air racing and the UFC.
Best for Market Coverage â€“ BetSaracen
BetSaracen offers you more than 20 different sports to bet on, including major league sports like the NFL and NBA. However, itâ€™s with niche sports that BetSaracen shines. Few sportsbooks in the US will let you wager on truck racing, rodeo, bull riding, and college lacrosse. Youâ€™ll find live betting options for major league sports, but every event has dozens of markets available.
Best for Beginner Bettors â€“ BetSaracen
BetSaracen is perfect for beginner bettors, with an easy-to-understand welcome bonus and a desktop site thatâ€™s simple to use. The customer support covers a lot of ground with its FAQs which include video tutorials to help bettors get started. BetSaracen also provides bettors with updates about offers and betting types through Twitter and Facebook. These allow beginner bettors to stay connected through more familiar sites.
Best for Payout Speed â€“ Betly
Betly requires only two working days to process your withdrawal request. On top of this, the sportsbook recommends allowing 1-3 days for your payment method to process the withdrawal. Overall, transactions usually take 3-7 days. We found withdrawals are generally on the quicker side of this time frame.
How to Place a Bet in Arkansas
Online sports betting is pretty new to Arkansas, so sports fans may not have tried it yet. If youâ€™re unsure how to start, follow the steps below and start betting in minutes:
- There are two online sportsbooks in Arkansas, with a third expected to launch soon. Read our comparisons and choose the best AR sportsbook for you. Both AR sportsbooks provide mobile apps you can download by visiting the sportsbook on your mobile browser. Alternatively, you can use your mobileâ€™s app store if it supports the betting app.
- Register an account by giving your full name, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security number, phone number, and address. You must also allow the app to access your geolocation services to prove you are in Arkansas.
- Visit the cashier section of the site and make your first deposit. You can select your payment method and how much money to add but ensure you deposit enough to meet the welcome bonusâ€™ minimum deposit requirements.
- Find a sport and browse through its markets. Add a betting line to your bet slip, choose how much to bet, and place the wager.
- If your bet wins, return to the cashier section with and follow the sportsbookâ€™s instructions to make a withdrawal.
- You must verify your account before withdrawing your winnings to protect you from fraud and underage gambling. Send copies of your photo ID and proof of address to the sportsbook to prove your identity.
Banking Methods Available in Arkansas
Arkansas online sportsbooks have only recently launched but already welcome a wide variety of payment methods. Bank cards are the most popular option, and you can use Visa and Mastercard. Other bank cards may be blocked by the bank providers due to old rules for online betting sites. Betly provides you with the option to use Play+, a prepaid card trusted by many of the top brands in the US. BetSaracen offers Skrill, a popular e-wallet unavailable in some legal betting states. In addition, you can also use PayNearMe cards to fund your account. You can add cash to your PayNearMe account at retailers like CVS and 7-Eleven.
Who is Eligible to Bet in Arkansas?
You donâ€™t need to live in Arkansas to place bets. But you must be at least 21 years old and physically located within the state to place legal bets. You can prove you are in AR by activating the geolocation services on your device. You must verify your age with a photo ID at online and retail sportsbooks. In addition, all people listed below are prohibited by law from placing sports bets in Arkansas:
- Players, coaches, or employees of any professional or college sports team members.
- Officials, referees, or umpires of professional or college sports leagues.
- Any individual who has professional or regulatory authority to influence players.
- Any individual employed by a sports league who can create or influence rules for that sport. (e.g., NFL, NCAA)
- Any individual employed by an organization that has licensing from the Arkansas Racing Commission.
- Any individual who has an ownership stake in a sports team.
- Any individual with access to non-public information about a sports team (e.g., player medical records).
- Any individuals that have voluntarily excluded themselves from gambling activities.
- Any individual prohibited from betting at a state or federal level (e.g., due to criminal history).
Latest Arkansas Sports Betting Updates
Current Sports Betting Status in Arkansas
Retail sports betting has been legal in Arkansas since November 2018, following an amendment to the stateâ€™s gambling laws to allow land-based casinos. The first retail sportsbooks opened in 2019, and there are now three in-person betting locations in AR. A fourth casino is under construction in Pope County. Lawmakers legalized online sports betting in 2021 after accepting the Arkansas Racing Commissionâ€™s proposed law changes. There are two online sportsbooks, Betly and BetSaracen, with a third expected to launch in 2022.
Timeline for Sports Betting in Arkansas
- May 12, 2022: BetSaracen launches its online sportsbook.
- April 26, 2022: Betly launches its mobile app for Apple devices.
- March 5, 2022: Betly, partnered with Southland Racing Casino, launches the first online sportsbook. The sportsbook is only available on desktops.
- February 22, 2022: The Legislatureâ€™s Joint Budget Committee signs off on the Arkansas Racing Commissionâ€™s rules, legalizing sports betting.
- December 30, 2021: The Arkansas Racing Commission approves rules for online sports betting with a unanimous vote. The rules go to the Legislative Council.
- October 15, 2020: Saracen Resort Casino opens as the first purpose-built casino in the state. The casino comes complete with a BetSaracen retail sportsbook.
- January 29, 2020: Southland Casino launches the second retail sportsbook in the state.
- July 9, 2019: Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort opens the first retail sportsbook and accepts the first legal wagers. The General Manager of Oakland, Wayne Smith, placed the first bet, wagering $5 on the Dallas Cowboys to beat the New York Giants in the NFL opener.
- November 6, 2018: Arkansas Issue 4, â€œCasinos Authorised in Crittenden, Garland, Pope, and Jefferson Counties Initiative,â€ passes a vote 54% to 46%. This vote amends legislation so that casinos can launch in the state, including facilities for sports betting.
- May 14, 2018: The US Supreme Court strikes down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). Each state now has the right to legislate sports betting.
Arkansas Sports Betting Background
While the Arkansas Racing Commission introduced new rules for sports betting in 2021, lawmakers made efforts toward legalization well before then. In April 2019, Senator Will Bond put forward SB 669 to introduce online betting on events approved by the Arkansas Racing Commission, but the bill died within a month. No further legislation could have been introduced until 2021 because Arkansas lawmakers only meet in odd-numbered years. When 2021 came around, online sports betting was not at the forefront of lawmakersâ€™ concerns. Instead, it was the Arkansas Racing Commission that successfully proposed the changes.
Future of Arkansas Sports Betting
The future is bright for Arkansas, with a fourth retail sportsbook on the way operated by the Cherokee Nation Businesses/Legends Resort & Casino. There is no set date for the completion of the casinoâ€™s construction in Pope County, but bettors can expect a new wagering venue in the coming years. Oaklawn Sports is the only retail sportsbook not to launch its own betting app but is currently working on developing one. The app, expected to launch in late 2022, will compete with the Betly and BetSaracen apps.
Leading sportsbook operators DraftKings and BetMGM wrote open letters to the Arkansas Racing Commission prior to a meeting on online sports betting in December 2021. Both sportsbooks lobbied for the state to allow each casino to partner with three or four mobile sportsbooks. Considering the state is almost at its maximum of four casinos as outlined in the Issue 4 vote in 2018, there could be as many as 16 online sportsbook licenses. However, the Chief Market Officer for Saracen, Carlton Saffa, said his preference was for one online operator per casino. While this doesnâ€™t guarantee the operators will launch sportsbooks in AR, it shows commercial interest for further expansion in the market. In the meantime, AR sports fans can legally play Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) games via the ESPN, Boom, Yahoo!, FantasyDraft, DraftKings, and FanDuel sites.
Arkansas Sports Betting Locations
Arkansas legalized casinos after a change to legislation in November 2018. Both AR racetracks launched casinos soon after. Arkansas sports betting legislation allows racinos and casinos to be licensed for retail sports betting. There are three locations in Arkansas with retail sportsbooks, and a fourth is currently under construction in Pope County.
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort
Address: 2705 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71901
Phone Number: (501) 623-4411
Operator: Oaklawn Sports
Oaklawn launched the first retail sportsbook in Arkansas in July 2019. The sportsbook offers betting windows and kiosks, the latter of which are available 24/7. Every sports event has as many as 300 wagering options, and youâ€™ll find the most markets on the NFL and college football. Youâ€™ll also find live betting options on the NBA, MLB, and NCAAF. If you win a wager, you can cash out your winnings at the casino cage cashier 24/7. The Oaklawn Sports app is expected to launch very soon.
Southland Casino Racing
Address: 1550 Ingram Boulevard, West Memphis, AR 72301
Phone Number: (800) 467-6182
Southland Casino Racing is famous for its greyhound racing track but now has a retail sportsbook that launched in January 2020. Youâ€™ll find the Betly sportsbook at the hotelâ€™s Sports Bar & Grill, or you can find kiosks on the second level. The sports betting windows are open from 9am-10pm on the weekend and 10am-10pm Monday to Friday. You can also use onsite kiosks 24/7. The casino launched the first AR online sportsbook, Betly, in April 2022.
Saracen Casino Resort
Address: 1 Saracen Resort Drive, Pine Bluff, AR 71601
Phone Number: (870) 686-9001
Following a constitutional amendment in November 2018, Arkansas was allowed to license casinos. Saracen Casino Resort was partially built in October 2019 and finished in October 2020. Currently, it is Arkansasâ€™ only purpose-built casino. The casino also has a BetSaracen sportsbook, where you can bet on an excellent variety of niche sports. Arena football, truck racing, rodeo, and bull riding are just some of the options.
Arkansas Responsible Gambling Resources
The Arkansas Problem Gambling Council â€“ Founded in 2021 to provide services and programs for people with a gambling problem. It also provides support services to affected families. (800) 522-4700
Gamblers Anonymous â€“ Organizes meetings where people suffering from problem gambling can meet and share experiences. It also offers Zoom calls and a recovery program.
Arkansas does not operate a state-wide self-exclusion program that allows bettors to prohibit themselves from online and retail sportsbooks. However, the casinos like Southland Casino Racing provide independent self-exclusion programs. The online sportsbooks in AR have taken steps to provide problem gambling resources such as deposit and spend limits.
Teams to Bet on in Arkansas
Arkansas has no professional sports teams for local residents to bet on. AR is the 18th least-populous state in the US, so itâ€™s unlikely any current major league teams will relocate there. Itâ€™s improbable expansion franchises will spring up in the likes of Little Rock, Fort Smith, or Fayetteville either. However, there are many pro sports teams in neighboring states that residents of the Natural State choose to get behind by placing sports bets. The following professional sports teams are based in neighboring states and receive heavy support from Arkansas residents:
- Missouri: Kansas City Chiefs (NFL), Kansas City Royals (MLB), St. Louis Cardinals (MLB), St. Louis Blues (NHL)
- Oklahoma: Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA)
- Tennessee: Tennessee Titans (NFL), Memphis Grizzlies (NBA), Nashville Predators (NHL)
- Texas: Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Dallas Mavericks (NBA), Houston Texans (NFL), Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Astros (MLB), Texas Rangers (MLB), Dallas Stars (NHL), San Antonio Spurs (NBA)
Minor League Sports
There are two minor league baseball teams in Arkansas. The Arkansas Travelers are a Double-A Class team based in Little Rock and are affiliated with the MLBâ€™s Seattle Mariners. Based in Springdale, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals are a Double-A Class team affiliated with the Kansas City Royals.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions: Members of the Southwestern Atlantic Conference (SWAC), the Golden Lions represent the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The Golden Lions achieved football success in 2012, winning the SWAC and the HBCU National Championship.
Arkansas Razorbacks: Representing the University of Arkansas, the Razorbacks are the best-supported sports team in the Natural State. The â€˜Hogsâ€™ have won 48 National Championships, primarily in track and field. The football team is best known for participating in one of the greatest college football games of all time, losing 15-14 to the University of Texas’ Longhorns in the 1969 National Title game. The team also won a National Title in 1964.
Arkansas State Red Wolves: The Red Wolves are based out of Jonesboro and represent Arkansas State University. The team competes in the Sun Belt Conference, and its football team won five Sun Belt Conference Championships between 2011 and 2016. The Red Wolves also boast one of the best rugby programs in the country.
Central Arkansas Bears: Representing the University of Central Arkansas, the Bears sports program has 18 varsity teams (eight menâ€™s and 10 womenâ€™s). The most famous Bears alumnus is Scottie Pippen, who joined the basketball team as a walk-on. Pippen would go on to be recognized as one of the greatest basketball players of all time after playing for the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, and Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA. Unsurprisingly, his Bears jersey number is retired.
Little Rock Trojans: The Trojans of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will be joining the Ohio Valley conference from 2022 onwards, having previously competed in the Sun Belt Conference. The Trojans have reached the NCAA Tournament five times. In 2016, the team was 12th seed and made the second round, upsetting 5th seed Purdue.
There are no professional womenâ€™s sports teams in Arkansas. However, there are still plenty of Division I womenâ€™s teams to get behind. The Arkansas Razorbacks have recently dominated Arkansas womenâ€™s sports, winning a triple crown of National Championships in cross country, alongside the indoor and outdoor track and field titles in 2019.
How Does Arkansas Compare to Other States?
Arkansas sportsbooks cover many different sports betting markets, with BetSaracen offering a particularly impressive range of sports. Major league sports have several betting options, and both Betly and BetSaracen also provide lots of college sports betting in AR. Moreover, Arkansas might offer some of the best niche sports markets in the US, with rodeo, bull riding, and more available. In-state college sports betting is allowed in AR, matching states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. The number of markets covered by Arkansas sportsbooks will only increase if more operators join the market.
Competitive Odds & Prices
Both Betly and BetSaracen offer competitive betting odds compared to some of the more prominent operators in the US. Betly offers excellent odds for in-play college football. However, neither of these sites offer the frequent odds boosts that top US sportsbooks like BetMGM provide. BetSaracen has the advantage of offering betting lines on sports not covered in most states, such as truck racing and the Pro Bowling Tour. The betting lines, prices, and offers available to AR bettors may improve further if new sportsbooks provide competition to the established operators.
Arkansas retail sportsbooks must pay 13% tax on net revenue up to $150 million. Above $150 million, the tax rate increases to 20%. AR is the only state in the US with a tax rate with different brackets for sportsbook revenues. The tax percentages are similar to New Jersey (14.25%) and Tennessee (20%).
55% of tax goes to the Arkansas General Revenue Funds, 19.5% to the city that hosts the taxed casino, 17.5% to the Arkansas Racing Commission, and 8% to the casinoâ€™s host county.
As of May 2022, the stateâ€™s betting handle is $155,662,786, and sportsbooks have kept $17,792,276 in revenue. This gives a hold rate of 11.4%, which is the fifth best hold in the US. Only Delaware, Maryland, Montana, and Washington DC have better hold percentages. The state has collected $2,531,234 in betting tax.
Regardless of which state you are betting in, you must declare your gambling winnings to the IRS. Anyone who makes more than $600 in a year must fill out a W-2G form. Your sportsbook should send this to you if it applies. In addition, sportsbooks can hold up to 25% of your winnings for tax reasons. Your state income tax will include gambling winnings. This tax ranges from 0.0% to 5.9% in Arkansas, depending on your income.
In Arkansas, your gambling winnings are included in your state income tax. Arkansas has three income tax brackets, with each bracket divided into subdivisions based on your earnings within the bracket. The low-income bracket for earners earning below $22,899 per annum has a minimum tax rate of 0% for their first $4,699, with the maximum being a 3.4% rate for earning between $13,900 and $22,899. The middle income tax bracket covers incomes between $22,900 and $82,000, and ranges from 0.75% on the first $4,699, to 5.90% on income between $38,500 and $82,000. The high-income tax bracket covers incomes over $82,001, taxing the first $4,200 earned at 2% and all earnings over $8,301 at 5.9%.
Sportsbooks must also pay taxes on a federal level per the Internal Revenue Code. An excise tax of 0.25% applies to every sports betting handled, and sportsbooks must pay $50 for every employee involved in taking wagers.
Who Oversees Sports Betting in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Racing Commission oversees sports betting in the Natural State. The main priority of the commission is to create new sports betting rules and enforce those rules. The legalization of sports betting, a proposal from the commission rather than a politician, shows this in action. The commission ensures every AR sportsbook that launches is safe and sticks to the rules for player safety and responsible gambling.
The Arkansas Racing Commission is headed by seven commissioners, each chosen by the governor with advice from the Senate.
Is betting legal in Arkansas?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Arkansas. There are two online sportsbooks in the state, BetSaracen and Betly. There are also three retail sportsbooks in AR, one at each of the casinos and racinos.
Who governs sports betting in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Racing Commission oversees sports betting in the state. The commission is tasked with creating new legislation, licensing sportsbooks, and enforcing responsible gambling measures. There are seven commissioners, each appointed by the governor.
How old do you have to be to bet in Arkansas?
You must be at least 21 years old to place bets in Arkansas. You will need to send copies of your photo ID to any online sportsbooks. You will also need to verify your age when you visit a retail sportsbook.
When did sports betting launch in Arkansas?
Retail sports betting launched in July 2019 after Arkansas residents had voted to amend the stateâ€™s gambling laws in 2018. Online sports betting launched in March 2022 after the Legislatureâ€™s Joint Budget Committee signed off on the Arkansas Racing Commissionâ€™s new rules.
Where can I bet on sports in Arkansas?
You can use online sportsbooks anywhere in Arkansas via Apple and Android apps or mobile browser sites. You must enable your geolocation services to prove you are in the state. Alternatively, you can visit a retail sportsbook at one of the stateâ€™s commercial casinos or racinos.
Are sportsbooks in Arkansas safe?
Yes, sportsbooks in Arkansas are safe. The Arkansas Racing Commission sets strict rules for player security and financial safety that each sportsbook must follow. The Commission also keeps players safe by promoting responsible gambling.
Do I have to pay taxes on betting winnings in Arkansas?
You must pay taxes on your betting winnings in Arkansas. You must declare all gambling winnings to the IRS, and you may need to fill out a W-2G form. Your betting winnings are also included in your state income tax, which ranges from 0.0% to 5.9%.
Can you play DraftKings in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Racing Commission does not license DraftKings, so you canâ€™t use it in the Natural State. DraftKings was one of the sportsbook operators to meet with the Arkansas Racing Commission to discuss alternatives to the current 51% casino revenue share.
Can you play FanDuel in Arkansas?
You canâ€™t use FanDuel Sportsbook in Arkansas. However, you can play its Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) games for leagues like the NFL and NBA.
Can you play BetMGM in Arkansas?
No, BetMGM is not available in Arkansas. However, you can travel to neighboring Mississippi and place retail sports bets at the Beau Rivage or Gold Strike Casino.
Can you play Caesars in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Racing Commission has not licensed Caesars, so the sportsbook is unavailable. However, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board has licensed Caesars. You can visit Louisiana and bet in parishes where sports betting is allowed.
Can you play TwinSpires in Arkansas?
No. TwinSpires sportsbook is unavailable in Arkansas.
Which sportsbooks will be available in Arkansas in the future?
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort will soon launch its Oaklawn Sports app in Arkansas. In addition, a casino is under construction in Pope County that will be licensed to provide retail sports betting. Major US operators like DraftKings and BetMGM are also interested in launching in Arkansas.