Historically a once-active hub for gambling, casinos in Arkansas today are scattered in two locations across the state.
Hot Springs, a protected reserve within the state, had its share of gambling history running through the Civil War and prohibition. At its peak Hot Springs had 10 major casinos and more minor locations than Las Vegas at the time. Decades later, legal and regulatory issues alongside the changing of political moods after World War II caused the gambling scene to eventually dissipate and become shut down for almost 40 years.
Gambling in Arkansas Today
The minimum gambling age at both Arkansas casinos is 21, or 18 for pari-mutuel wagering.
Arkansas’ gambling locations include two pari-mutuel locations offering “electronic games of skill” which are legally defined as “games played through any electronic device or machine that affords an opportunity for the exercise of skill or judgment where the outcome is not completely controlled by chance alone.”
The most popular games at casinos in Arkansas include video poker, video blackjack, and slots, based on skill, that afford you with two spins. These slots are deemed to be skill based due to the fact that upon witnessing the results of the first spin, you’re allowed to retain any and all of the symbols on each reel, or none at all, prior to your next spin. Gaming regulations require that electronic games of skill at all casinos in Arkansas must return a minimum of 83%.
The payback percentages on electronic gaming machines at all casinos in Arkansas are released as a matter of public record. Just click here to see a list of slot machine payback statistics for all Arkansas casinos.
While electronic games are featured within these places, there are three table games offered including poker, let it ride, and three-card poker. Skill games have recently seen more exemptions legally, as charity bingo and raffles are now allowed alongside the launch of the Arkansas state lottery in 2009.
Arkansas Gambling Laws
The laws forbidding gambling, found in the Arkansas State codes, are so antiquated that the penalties are the same as they were written in 1967 including fines of $10 and $25. These laws also fail to address, you guessed it, the internet. The main statutes generally make a clear distinction between individuals gambling amongst each other and running a gambling house, possessing and operating gambling machines, and/or organizing events. The state legislation also makes no distinction between games played where the house makes a profit and social games, however home poker games are outlawed—with the same fines applied.
To play other real casino table games such as Blackjack, residents of Arkansas generally cross into the neighboring states of Mississippi, Louisiana or Oklahoma where they, alongside general slot machines, are legal.
There are efforts to further legalize casinos, including the Quapaw tribe of Oklahoma seeking to build a new one on land purchased in Little Rock. Though unsuccessful, there have also been recent ballot initiatives to attempt to build another and possibly allow for other games.
For more information on visiting casinos in Arkansas, or general tourism information, call the state’s tourism office at (800) 628-8725 or visit their web site at: www.arkansas.com.
Shown below is a list of all Arkansas casinos. Click on a name to see a page of detailed information about that particular casino.