Sports betting went live in Arkansas in July 2019 at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. In January 2020, Southland Casino Racing became the second place to bet on sports in Arkansas.
That is it. Sports betting was officially legalized in November 2018 not too long after PASPA was overturned by the landmark Supreme Court decision on May 14, 2018. Unfortunately, Arkansas only has retail sports betting. You cannot bet on sports from your mobile phone. You cannot use a computer.
The only places in the state to bet on sports are at Oaklawn and at Southland. In the future, there could be two additional retail locations, but there are no plans at this time in Arkansas to change the law. The rules and regulations specifically prohibit online and mobile wagering, much to the detriment of the state.
We’ve seen the expansive possibilities for states with online and mobile sports betting and how much tax money has been created. Other states with retail sports betting are actively limiting themselves and Arkansas is sadly one of them.
It has to be extremely frustrating to want to bet on sports, but live in a state where you can only do it in Hot Springs or West Memphis at the retail sites. Neighboring Mississippi is the same way.
Ironically, the best answer to how to bet on sports in Arkansas is actually to go somewhere else. Hope is here and hope is also on the horizon. Tennessee is a state with online and mobile sports betting. In fact, that is the only kind of betting that can be done in Tennessee because the Volunteer State has no retail locations.
Fifty-five of the 64 parishes in Louisiana approved sports betting, though it remains to be seen if online and mobile betting will be allowed. The smart money is on the ‘Yes’ in that regard.
Missouri is moving closer towards sports betting as well. The state is losing way too much betting money to Iowa and Illinois and something needs to be done, so the Show Me State is likely to have online and mobile betting sometime in 2021.
As inconvenient as it may be to bet on sports in Arkansas, at least there are options for those that are willing to commute or live in border towns and can easily access other places.
The only places at time of writing to bet on sports are at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs and Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis. Retail sports betting is all that is currently permitted in Arkansas. Unless you live near those two places or are willing to drive to make your bets, you are out of luck in Arkansas.
Fortunately, other states are an option:
Mississippi isn’t much better of an option. Retail sports betting is allowed in the state, with most of the gaming facilities in Tunica in the northwest corner and down along the Gulf Coast. Tunica, more or less on the Mississippi River, is an easy access point for a lot of Arkansas residents and is another option for those in Little Rock that want more variety than Oaklawn can provide.
Tennessee is the spot for those in Arkansas. Tennessee is a Remote Registration state, which means that you can sign up from anywhere. You just have to be physically located in the state of Tennessee to make a deposit and place bets.
It may seem kind of crazy to take I-40 right past Southland and into Memphis, TN, but Tennessee allows for online sports betting and mobile wagering and also has some of the industry’s biggest sportsbook operators. That means sign-up bonuses. That means fairer odds. That means more opportunities with places like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM.
Even though it requires a bit of a drive, it is the best state presently for those that want to bet on sports.
Louisiana and Missouri are likely to be coming soon, but Tennessee is already established and taking bets.
The Arkansas Racing Commission oversees sports betting at Oaklawn and Southland. Oaklawn runs its own shop, while Southland has a betly Sportsbook.
Commuting to Tennessee, though, gives Arkansas residents the best options. Maybe one day these sportsbooks will come to Arkansas, but the best sportsbooks for Arkansas currently reside in Tennessee.
Those sportsbooks in Tennessee are:
BetMGM Sportsbook is a global gaming leader with sportsbooks in different states across the country and casino and resort properties around the world. The self-proclaimed King of Sportsbooks has a lot to live up to with that moniker, but does so in a really impressive fashion with some of the fairest odds in the business and a terrific sports betting app.
BetMGM offers a 100% Deposit Match Bonus up to $500 in Tennessee.
Everybody knows the name DraftKings. The company’s presence in the daily fantasy sports arena became a good way to get into the sports betting side when PASPA was finally struck down. DraftKings has a huge market share in the United States as a place that offers arguably the most extensive catalog of props and futures betting options for its users.
DraftKings offers up to a $1000 Sign-Up Bonus in Tennessee.
FanDuel is actually the sports betting operator with the largest market share in the United States. Another DFS operator turned sportsbook, FanDuel has a really clean-cut look with a streamlined app and a tremendous live betting client. It is a really popular place to bet on sports and millions of people wouldn’t stay loyal to that brand if it wasn’t doing something right. There are lots of choices, but FanDuel tends to rule the market in states with open competition and that says a lot.
FanDuel offers up to a $500 Risk-Free Bet in Tennessee.
Arkansas has sports betting and has for a while, but it isn’t the best of environments for bettors. The retail-only component and the lack of options severely limit the choices and the conveniences for bettors. It doesn’t show any signs of changing anytime soon, which is why states like Tennessee and eventually Louisiana and Missouri are better choices.