Arkansas Legal Poker Sites

Arkansas StateArkansas could have been a worldwide gambling hub along the same lines as Las Vegas or Atlantic City. The ‘Hot Springs’ development had a crazy history of gambling and mob activity – and enjoyed its heyday in the early 1900’s. Unfortunately for poker fans, this State decided to go anti-gambling instead, banning virtually all gaming back in 1967. Today there are limited opportunities to enjoy poker, which forces many AR residents to travel across State borders to Mississippi.

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This page takes you through all the different types of poker you can play in Arkansas. First of all live casino poker rooms are covered, focusing on the Southlands Racetrack. Next up, home and social poker games are discussed. After that you will find the different options for online poker games in the State of Arkansas. Towards the bottom of this page you’ll find excerpts from the AR Statute books covering gambling – before a summary and a speculative look to the future at the end.

Live Poker Games In Arkansas

There is only one casino poker room in Arkansas, and it is small by the standards of other States. The Southlands Race Track offers cash games and the occasional small tournament. The other race track, at Oaklawn has quasi-poker games using video game type interfaces. These are not true poker, more like entertainment based loosely on poker rules.

Neighboring States do offer some relief from the lack of poker action in Arkansas. Mississippi has a large number of poker rooms, and Louisiana is also a poker-friendly State. Many residents do travel to enjoy these games.

Social Poker Games In Arkansas

Home games are not carved out under Arkansas laws, making even small stakes games between friends technically illegal. Even if your home-game did get busted in this State, the fines are unlikely to break the bank. The penalty amounts were defined back in 1967. Back then $25 for playing in a home-game might have been a lot of money, nowadays most pots will be bigger than this.

You will find free to enter bar poker league games in this State – including occasional charity tournaments. While there are small prizes up for grabs, these events are more for entertainment than real poker action.

Online Poker Games In Arkansas

As you will find is the case in most States, online poker is not specifically mentioned in the Arkansas Statutes (which were last amended for gambling in 1967). The government here believes that the general anti-gambling laws adequately cover this. Presumably the $25 fine level applies here too. There is no indication than any individual has ever been indicted for enjoying real money poker games online.

The main option for AR residents is to play at offshore poker sites, which offer real money games to thousands of US residents every month. These sites are based offshore in countries where online poker is completely legal, and argue their right to allow US players into their games based on free-trade laws. Deposits and withdrawals require some patience, however both are possible and a decent selection of games are available.

There is little evidence to support the idea that Arkansas will regulate or legalize online poker games any time soon. The generally restrictive nature of gambling law in this State does not look like suddenly changing to allow for poker on the internet. There is no reason to rule this out forever. However, regulation will have to be successful elsewhere for a few years before it is even considered.

What Do The Arkansas Gambling Statutes Say?

One positive from the laws in Arkansas is that there is a very clean and clear distinction between players of gambling games and organizers of them. Players are treated far less harshly under the law. Social and commercial games are not separated, so an organizer of a social game could in theory be treated harshly.

The wording includes both chance and skill (or ‘hazard’ here) which rules out the potential to argue that poker is a skill game and so should not be included. Here is the key working from the Statute books, this is from Chapter 5, part 66-113:

…any game of hazard or skill, upon conviction he or she is guilty of a violation and shall be fined in any sum not less than ten dollars ($10.00) nor more than twenty-five dollars ($25.00)…

Arkansas Poker – Summing It Up

With only one small poker room supposedly catering for almost 3 million residents, Arkansas can’t be considered as a poker-friendly State. Add to this the lack of legally carved-out home games and you can start to see why so many players are forced to cross over to Mississippi to get a game. Online games are available, though the authorities in this State believe they are not legal under the old Statutes.

There is little to make me believe that Arkansas will change its laws any time soon to permit more gambling. The slim chance that things could change would probably be based on the leak of money over the border to Mississippi.