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Arkansas Legal Poker

Last Update: April 4, 2015

Online Poker

Arkansas doesn’t have any law that pertains to online poker or online gambling. It’s live poker enforcement efforts are typically targeted at operators. Thus, playing online poker from the privacy of your home probably won’t raise any state official’s eyebrows. Certainly the state could try to apply Arkansas Code 5-66-112 to online poker play if it wanted to, but players could argue that the servers are outside the state and thus beyond the jurisdiction of Arkansas.
Arkansas has never considered any legislation to regulate online poker.

Live Poker

Arkansas is not a model of clarity when it comes to gambling law, but as a matter of course one should err on the side of caution.

Strangely, the Arkansas Code does not define “gambling”, making it difficult to determine whether poker is considered gambling in the state. In the 2002 case of Sharp v. State, however, the Arkansas Supreme Court reaffirmed an 1872 definition of gambling as “the risking of money between two or more persons, on a contest or chance of any kind, where one must be the loser and the other gainer.”

While pots are often chopped in poker, this definition is probably broad enough to encompass poker. Even if it weren’t, Arkansas Code 5-66-112 prohibits betting any money on “any game of poker”.

There is no social or home game exception to the statute in Arkansas, nor are there any tribal casinos anywhere in the state. Although the maximum fine is $25, an overzealous prosecutor could seek to apply that fine to each instance of betting rather than taking a whole session as one violation.

In sum, Arkansas is not a favorable state to the game of poker. The state does prosecute underground poker games, although enforcement efforts are usually targeted at operators.

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