Legal Arkansas Poker / Gambling Laws

Arkansa Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Arkansas?

Arkansas is one of the most conservative states in America in terms of poker and other casino games. Though Arkansas doesn’t yet have a law on the books about poker played over the Internet, analysts say that the state is considering adding a law making Internet based poker explicitly illegal. Arkansas’ current poker laws are so conservative that it is assumed that online poker will be outlawed within the next few years, even though many states are looking to online poker regulation as a new source of revenue.

Arkansas Gambling Laws

In The Natural State, gambling is controlled and monitored by the Arkansas Racing Commission. This group was set up to regulate and control horse and dog racing, but have been given the job of dealing with laws related to any and call casino gambling.

There’s no need for you to go digging around Arkansas state laws; the Arkansas Racing Commission has determined that any live poker game is illegal in Arkansas if the game offers winnings in real money. Arkansas citizens and visitors to the state may be surprised to find legal poker games and tourneys being played, usually in bars and restaurants. These games are legal in Arkansas because the providers do not charge any sort of fee to participate. This includes a prohibition against requiring a minimum food or drink purchase, an old loophole that the state law has successfully closed. Technically, those are poker games and they are legal in Arkansas, though technically you can’t play for real money. That takes a lot of the fun out of the game for serious poker players.

Are Poker Games Legal in Arkansas?

Illegal or underground poker clubs are common in Arkansas thanks to the strict nature of poker law in that state. Poker is very popular in the state of Arkansas; after all, one of the inventors of the world’s most popular poker game, Texas Hold ‘Em, was born in Arkansas. Amarillo Slim is a name familiar to anyone who knows much about poker, and he was born in the state that now makes all for-profit poker illegal.

Since there are so many laws about playing for-profit poker in Arkansas, and no laws about playing the game online, many citizens play poker over the Internet to avoid getting in trouble with the law. The future of online poker in Arkansas is in doubt, though, so it’s possible that soon even that route will be illegal.

Is Online Poker Legal in Arkansas?

As laws about playing poker change all over the United states, the game is at the forefront of most conversations about gambling law in the state’s borders. On the one side are government officials and poker players who stress that poker is a game of skill that could add revenue to Arkansas’ shrinking state budgets, and on the other are moralists who believe that all forms of gambling should be illegal.

Learn About Other State Laws

Home Poker Games in Arkansas

Playing a private poker game in Arkansas is riskier than in any other state in the USA thanks to murky laws about what constitutes an illegal gambling house.

Pay particular attention to state law 5-66-103, which covers law related to what the state calls “illegal gambling houses.” In Arkansas, it is a Class D felony to “Keep,  conduct, or operate . . .  any gambling house or place where gambling is carried on.” This law is just vague enough to make it illegal to have a home game, but to also somewhat encourage home games, since the definition of a gambling house is unclear.

Basically, the state of Arkansas prohibits all forms of gambling on card games. It doesn’t matter where you play, how you play, or if you charge admission or not. Another quote from state law books should make that clear: “If any person shall be guilty of betting 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 at any other game at cards, known by any name now known to the law, or with any other or new name or without any name, he shall, on conviction be fined in any sum not less than ten dollars ($10.00) nor more than twenty-five dollars ($25.00).” Those fines probably no longer apply, since the law is obviously out of date, but this section make it clear that these sorts of games are technically illegal.

The complexities of gambling law in Arkansas are such that if you are considering holding a home game or participating in a for-profit poker contest within state lines, you should consult a lawyer to find out the parameters for obeying state law.