Living in Arkansas has its advantages and disadvantages. Without question, all the fresh air and open spaces provide for a healthy quality of life, but the lack of professional sports teams and other activities that come from being in a different area of the country mean there is far less to do. Many people around the country turn to poker when they are looking for something to entertain them, but what about in Arkansas? Let’s look as the poker industry in the southern state.
Online Poker Laws in Arkansas
IN the early 2000s, when sites like Poker Stars and Party Poker dominated the U.S. poker scene, residents of Arkansas were able to create online accounts, make deposits and play against players from near and far from the comfort of their own homes. However, everything changed in 2006 and again in 2011 when the government looked to control the online gambling space. The government managed to shut down the majority of the poker sites accepting American players and this left players out in the cold. A few states have managed to pass legislation to make online poker legal within the borders of their states, but as of now, this has not taken place in Arkansas.
Land Based Poker in Arkansas
There is one gaming facility in Arkansas, Southland Park, that did offer poker for some time. It was a small room with only 6 cash game tables and a few tournaments scattered here and there. With Tunica, Mississippi just across the border, these games at Southland started to dry up, and finally, the poker room closed in late 2018. This means that technically no legal live poker games are happening withing the borders of Arkansas.
Social Poker in Arkansas
Social Poker is a type of poker that has existed for the better part of the last decade. Companies like Zynga realized that for many players, it was the thrill of playing the hands that mattered most to casual players and that the actual loss of money stopped many from trying some of the real money sites that existed in the market at that time.
In Arkansas, there are several social poker sites available to players. These sites give you the chance to play some of your favorite poker games for recognition and for prizes. Many of the sites give you the option of playing with free chips or buying chips to grow your stack so you can enter larger buy-in events without having to earn the chips needed to play. While this isn’t the exact same as playing for real cash, it is still a way for many players in Arkansas to keep their poker skills sharp in anticipation of playing elsewhere for real money.
Subscription Poker in Arkansas
Another creative way that the poker industry tried to reinvent itself in the early 2010s was by introducing the concept of a subscription-based service. Companies found that they could qualify as a sweepstakes site if they offered no way for someone to buy directly into events and if they never offered cash prizes. As a result, sites like Club WPT were born, and a couple of them continue to be successful to this day.
Unfortunately for players in Arkansas, these subscription sites no longer accept players from the state. The way the gambling laws are written in Arkansas, which could be considered quite archaic, there is too much risk for subscription-based sites to be considered to be offering illegal games. So for the time being, Arkansas residents are shut out from playing at these sites.
Mobile Poker in Arkansas
With the introduction of mobile devices with the computing capability of small computers came a load of apps for players to download to their phones or tablets. Gaming is a huge sector in the mobile space, and a quick check of the App Store of your device will unveil multiple free-play poker apps. Again, these don’t entirely replicate the gameplay of playing poker for real money (the play is typically much looser when there is no money on the line). However, as a place to put into practice some things you have learned, or to just get used to the grind of playing for hours, these mobile apps can be a valuable tool.
Poker Training Sites in Arkansas
Even though playing poker for real money is very difficult for residents of Arkansas, that shouldn’t stop you from trying to get better at the game. There are lots of great poker training tools available in the market, and that includes sites like this one! Check out our How-To guides to all the different types of poker that is available in the industry today – who knows, you may fall in love with a game you have never played before! There are lots of great videos and podcasts about poker skills which you can access anytime day or night. There really is no excuse for you not to be learning more about this amazing game.
Online Poker in Arkansas FAQ
We hear all the news about sports betting becoming legal across the U.S. Will that help get online poker back in Arkansas?
IT is true that since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018, the shift in the gambling industry has moved quickly to regulated sports betting. Some states like Delaware, Pennsylvania and Michigan have introduced and passed more comprehensive bills that include online casino and poker, while other states are focused on the low-hanging fruit of sports betting for the time being. In Arkansas, the discussion has not included online poker, but that doesn’t mean that the groundswell of interest from around the country won’t have an effect in this state.
What about offshore online poker sites? I see some ads for some of these sites still – can I play them from Arkansas?
As far as the letter of the law, it does not appear to be illegal for Arkansas residents to play real money poker at a site based outside the country. However, there are limited options of sites that still accept players from Arkansas after the main sites were shut down in 2011. These sites continue to be rogue in the eyes of the federal government, meaning that there is really no security for your funds if you decide to make a deposit. We never recommend these sites to players, although we know there are a handful in each state willing to accept the additional risk to get their poker fix. Our suggestion is that you stay away from these offshore sites and find alternative solutions.