The state of Arkansas approved legalized sports betting during the 2018 November election. Issue 4 amended the state constitution and passed by a pretty good margin to become the eighth state in the United States to allow legal sports wagering. Once the capabilities were in place, the bill allowed for four locations to have sports betting. Only two have it to this point as of March 2020.
Arkansas does not have a lot of casinos or gaming facilities, but does have one of the most recognized horse racing tracks in the United States at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. That is one of the two locations that takes sports bets at present. The other is the Southland Casino in West Memphis, which has a greyhound track.
The Arkansas legislation actually paved the way for legalized sports betting in July 2019, so it took a little while for everybody to come to an agreement after the voters had their say eight months prior. In a lot of southern states, progress has been very slow when it comes to sports betting, but Arkansas was only a couple months behind Mississippi in terms of getting into the game. It just took some time for the state’s elected officials to put together a proposal and tax rates that worked out for everybody.
Arkansas is one of a handful of states that has legalized sports betting, but does not offer an online or mobile option. The only way that the citizens of Arkansas can bet is to do so in person at either Oaklawn Park or Southland. To this point, there have not been a whole lot of discussions regarding the development of online or mobile wagering from the sportsbooks.
BetAmerica runs the sportsbook at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort with technological assistance from SBTech. At Southland Casino, Betly runs the sportsbook. A lot of operators did not spend significant time or financial resources trying to get into the Arkansas market because of the lack of online and mobile wagering. BetAmerica has long been tied to horse racing in the United States, which is why the partnership with Oaklawn made a lot of sense for them.
There really aren’t a whole lot of plans to expand betting in the state of Arkansas. Neighboring Mississippi also takes retail-only wagers. Louisiana to the south has not moved too quickly on betting. Texas to the southwest has not really moved at all. Tribal casinos in Oklahoma actually invested money into the Issue 4 campaign in hopes that it could prove to be a catalyst for betting in Oklahoma. That has not been the case to this point.