Arkansas Poker Laws
The Arkansas code says nothing about online poker and whether it is legal or illegal. Gambling in general is legal, but limited to racinos. Live poker is allowed at those properties.
There is very little gambling of any kind allowed in Arkansas. With no Native American tribes offering gambling and limits on racing, there are only two properties in the state with any type of gambling.
The two racinos, which are primarily race tracks, do also have some electronic gaming machines, slot machines, and table games. Poker is one of those games, and it is offered at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming and Southland Park Gaming and Racing. These tracks offer racing and betting on those races.
Keno and pinball machines are strictly prohibited, and bingo and raffles only allowed for charitable purposes. A state lottery was approved in 2008.
Arkansas Poker Laws Pertinent to Playing Online
The Code of Arkansas puts gambling under Title 5, which is “Criminal Offenses,” and under Subtitle 6 of “Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, and Welfare.” Chapter 66 details gambling, which is listed between driving or boating while intoxicated and highways and bridges.
Section 5-66-101 explains:
“In their construction of the statutes prohibiting gaming, the judges of the several courts in this state shall construe the statutes liberally, with a view of preventing persons from evading the penalty of the aw by changing of the name or the invention of new names or devices that are, or may hereafter be, brought into practice, in any and in all kinds of gaming…”
That covers just about everything and gives little leeway.
There is also some confusion via 5-66-104 about gaming devices, as any “gaming table or gambling device” used for roulette, faro, or “bank of the like or similar kind,” are prohibited from being “adapted, devised, or designed for the purpose of playing any game of chance” or “at which any money or property may be won or lost.” This appears to prevent home poker games
The card games betting statute is specific:
“If a person bets any money or any valuable thing on any game of brag, bluff, poker, seven-up, three-up, twenty-one, vingt-et-un, thirteen cards, the odd trick, forty-five, whist, or any other game of cards known by any game now known to the law or with any other new name or without any name, upon conviction he or she is guilty of a violation.”
The fines or small, but this seems to make any type of home card games illegal.
Further, “If a person bets any money or any valuable thing on any game of hazard or skill, upon conviction he or she is guilty of a violation.” Skill games are illegal as well.
Then there is Chapter 113 of Title 23, the Local Option Horse Racing and Greyhound Racing Electronic Games of Skill Act of 2005. Under Subchapter 2, wagering on electronic games of skill was legalized on the grounds of the franchise holder’s racetrack if voters approve it. Electronic games of skill are defined as
“games played through any electronic device or machine that afford an opportunity for the exercise of skill or judgment when the outcome is not completely controlled by chance alone.”
Table games, including poker, are permitted under this statute because the cards are shuffled electronically and because games like blackjack and poker are considered games of skill.
Should poker in home games or other arenas be challenged in court at any time in the future, there may be a chance to use the games of skill act and definitions in defense of the games. Advocates for more poker legalization may also use that statute in any campaigning for furthering skill game opportunities.
Some of the penalties for violating Arkansas gambling codes, at present, include:
- Keeping any gaming device or gaming table for the purpose of playing any game of chance can result in an unclassified misdemeanor with a fine of at least $100 and prison time of 30 days to one year.
- Holding gaming devices in buildings or in vessels offers the same penalties as above.
- Keno games are penalized by a minimum fine of $200.
- Card game violations can be fined from $10 to $25.
- Fines for games of hazard or skill will be $10 to $25.
Disclaimer: This is not written by an attorney and is not or should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for help interpreting these laws as they pertain to any given situation.
Latest Developments Regarding Online Poker in Arkansas
As far as online poker or gambling, there have been no developments since the Local Option Horse Racing and Greyhound Racing Electronic Games of Skill Act of 2005.
However, there could be gambling expansion in the state if voters approve. There are some residents of Arkansas currently pushing for a ballot measure to be added to the November 2018 ballot, which would allow the construction of up to three full-fledged casinos. The Arkansas Casino Gaming and Highway Funding Amendment of 2018 is being pushed by the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma. A similar proposal was defeated by the Arkansas Supreme Court in 2017.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Have Arkansas legislators ever considered legal online poker?
Answer: There have been no proposals of any significance brought to the lawmakers of Arkansas for serious consideration. The state only recently allowed live poker in racinos, so it is not likely to tackle the topic of online poker or gambling any time soon.
Question: Can Arkansas residents play online poker?
Answer: Yes. There are online poker sites that are open to residents of Arkansas and many of the other 49 states due to their lack of online gambling regulations of any kind. Players have never been targeted by state law enforcement officials for patronizing these sites.
Question: How can Arkansas players deposit and withdraw from an online poker site?
Answer: There are several options for poker online account holders to deposit and withdraw, though the most popular right now is through bitcoin. The form of cryptocurrency is the easiest and fastest way to deposit and withdraw, as any other withdrawals can only be done by courier check. Check out our site reviews for details.
- Abbreviation: AR
- Nickname: The Natural State
- Capital: Little Rock
- Largest city: Little Rock
- Population: 2,988,248 (29th of 50 states)
- Area: 53,180 square miles
- Famous poker players: Austin “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Daniel Lowery, Sam Barnhart, Michael Sanders