Sports Betting Taking Off in Arkansas

The sports betting industry has recovered in a big way in Arkansas, and now there is another retail betting option in the state. The COVID-19 pandemic had brought the industry to a complete halt, but recent numbers suggest that things are now back to normal.

Oaklawn Race Track in Hot Springs, Arkansas brought in more than $1.1 million in bets during the month of September. This was a jump of almost $136,000 from the August total, and that was the first month that the sports betting handle topped $1 million since March.

The Oaklawn Race Track had a net win of more than $206,000 during the month of September after all of the payouts were made. Oaklawn is a popular destination for sports bettors that live in the state capital of Little Rock.

Casino gambling and sports betting is now legal at the race track after Hot Springs was known for illegal gambling operations for decades. The race track is also home to the Arkansas Derby, which is one of the most important races prior to the Triple Crown races.

Sports betting is also offered at the Southland Casino in West Memphis, and numbers from that location were impressive as well. Southland actually blew past Oaklawn race track, totaling more than $2.3 million in bets during September.

The sportsbook at Southland had a net win of more than $138,000 last month, but the sports betting handle total was the highest it has ever been. The location of Southland attracts bettors from the state of Tennessee as well, which was the reason that it had a higher amount of bets.

Saracen Now Open For Business

The Saracen Casino saw almost $500,000 in sports bets during the month of September, with a net win of just over $52,000. The biggest month ever reported at Saracen was in November 2019, when that location brought in just under $600,000 in bets.

The Saracen Casino is located in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which is about an hour south of Little Rock. Until this week, the casino was operating in an annex building that had once been a truck stop.

On Tuesday, the official Saracen Casino opened to the public, and it will likely become a huge competitor in the sports betting industry. There were just about 300 slots and a small sportsbook at the previous location, but now that has all changed.

Saracen underwent a $350 million expansion project, and the property now has over 2,000 slot machines along with 36 table games. A brand new sportsbook and a poker room were also built at the new location.

Gaming expansion was left up to the voters in November 2018, and the measure was approved, allowing for this new construction to take place. Pine Bluff and the entire state of Arkansas is hoping that the sports betting industry will provide some economic relief.

More Sports Bring More Action

The decision by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to shut down all casinos in March hit the industry hard, but so did the cancellation of live sporting events. Even as the sportsbooks began to reopen in Arkansas, there weren’t many options to bet on.

Now that live sports, especially football, have returned throughout the United States, it has caused a huge boom in the sports betting industry. The Arkansas Razorbacks and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) are very popular betting options in Arkansas.

At some point, there will be a fourth retail sportsbook available in Russellville, Arkansas. That property is currently in a legal battle, and there is no timetable for launch.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.