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Arkansas Online Casinos

Arkansas

Arkansas sits somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to gambling in the United States. While it doesn’t have any major destination cities that are filled with glamorous resorts, there are at least two full casino operations in the state, and there have been occasional talks about further expansion of the industry.

On the other hand, online casinos in Arkansas haven’t gotten much of a look in. Still, that doesn’t mean that residents can’t play slots, blackjack and other games on the Internet, as many companies are happy to provide games to players in the state.

Slow Burner

Arkansas has never seemed to have any particular interest in online gambling, a stance that is understandable in a state where there is only a limited amount of live gaming to begin with. Just like Alaska, there are no regulations for internet casinos, and as far as we know, no plans to introduce any proposals to the industry soon.

However, many sites do accept players from Arkansas to participate in their real money games. This is due to the fact that there are no laws in the state making it illegal for players to take part in Internet gaming; instead, what laws do exist are targeted at operators, meaning you can’t run your own sites. For foreign companies, that makes this state (like most of the USA) a grey market, one where a lack of regulation and no laws targeting players mean that many big, reputable firms offer their games here.

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Development in Bricks and Mortar Business

Arkansas may not be one of the leading states when it comes to casino gaming, but it does have a modest industry that has developed in recent years. At the moment, state law only allows for real money wagering in existing parimutuel facilities. In other words, as in many other locations around the US, gambling takes place primarily at “racinos:” racetracks that have added slots, table games, and other options to their facilities.

At the moment, two such venues exist in the state, at Southland Park and Oaklawn Park, each of which still has racing as well. However, it is clear that the casinos are now the real draw: while horse and greyhound racing brings in a small amount of revenue, the real profits and tax revenues come from the machines and tables inside.

These tracks offer what amounts to a full range of casino gaming at each location. Unlike many racinos that only feature electronic machines, these two facilities also have table games and poker rooms, essentially turning them into something close to resort destinations.

In addition, the state also has a lottery that offers both intrastate contests and multistate jackpots. Along with a few games unique to the state, residents can also play Powerball, Mega Millions, and other massive jackpot drawings.


Future Developments

There has certainly been talk about expanding the Arkansas gaming industry in recent years. However, these talks have consistently produced controversy, with questions and concerns being brought up on all sides of the issue.

The most recent effort was brought forward by State Senator Jeremy Hutchinson, and on its face, it was a rather modest proposal. His bill would have allowed for coin-operated games, such as those found in arcades, to award larger prizes than they could under current law: up to $850 in merchandise from a single play, rather than the $12 maximum that is in place now.

Hutchinson saw the bill as a way to encourage businesses like Dave and Busters (a combination restaurant/arcade typically marketed toward young adults) to build locations throughout the state. But opponents instead saw the potential for small-scale operations to pop up everywhere under the new law, what they referred to as “fast food” gambling.

Not surprisingly, the existing racetracks – in particular, Oaklawn Park – also opposed the idea, clearly wishing to keep another potential competitor from cutting into their business. But that opposition also created a bit of a backlash, as some in the state considered whether it continued to make sense to allow the tracks to have a monopoly on the industry. This issue has come up on several occasions, due to the fact that Oaklawn and Southland feature greyhound racing – a practice many see as cruel and abusive towards dogs.

Still others have suggested that if the state wants to expand the industry, then they should do so in a more transparent way, rather than a small quasi-gambling bill such as Hutchinson’s. But so far, efforts to allow more casinos in the state have failed. There is the potential for Native American tribes to push for resorts as well – the Quapaw tribe of Oklahoma has expressed an interest in building on land it purchased in Little Rock – but construction on such a project, even if it goes forward, is probably years away.

With so much debate over expansion even in the brick and mortar world, it seems unlikely that Internet casinos will get much attention from legislators anytime soon. We have seen no evidence of a movement to put in a licensing system or any other sort of framework in place, and it would be a major surprise for if the topic gained any steam in the next few years. For the time being, Arkansas residents will need to head to casino sites licensed in other countries if they want to gamble online.


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