I’ve searched Arkansas high and low to uncover the best slots in the state. You won’t have to look far to see Hot Springs and West Memphis leap out as the frontrunners for Arkansas gaming.
The best payout casinos you’ll find in Arkansas are Southland Park Racing and Gaming and Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. The loosest skill-based slot games in Hot Springs are Black Diamond Platinum, Wild Lepre’Coins, Fire Fortunes, and Golden Gong. The loosest skill-based slots in West Memphis are Fortune Gong, Black Diamond Platinum, Wild Wild Gems, and Easy Riches.
I’ll walk you through the current Arkansas gaming scene and the state’s 100-year gambling history in this post. We’ll also look closely at the 3 casinos in Arkansas and where you’ll find the best opportunities to win.
Arkansas Slot Machine Returns and Payouts
Gaming in Arkansas is regulated and under the direct oversight of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. More specifically, the guidelines are found under the Electronic Games of Skill Section.
This section covers not only who can operate the games but those who are eligible to play them and how much the machines must payout.
The minimum payout percentage for slot machines in Arkansas is 83%. That should immediately jump out to many of you as many states carry an 80% minimum.
However, it’s fair to keep in mind that rarely do the machines pay anywhere near a minimum range.
For example, the minimum in neighboring Louisiana is 80%. Yet, the worst payout slots in the state payout nearly 89%.
So, it’s critical to recognize that a minimum should be a somewhat comforting notion and not a solid baseline.
Fortunately, Arkansas casinos slay their minimum return to player requirements. The average payout percentage at Southland Park is 92.72%. At Oaklawn Racing Casino, the payout is slightly better at 92.81%.
For those of you unfamiliar with the return to player, anything approaching 93% is fantastic. You’ll actually get better odds in the Arkansas casinos than you’d find on the Las Vegas Strip.
Return to Player or RTP is the percentage of each dollar played on a slot machine paid back to the player. So, at 92.81%, the casino keeps an average of $7.19 from every $100 played.
Typically, that means your bankroll will slowly whittle away if you’re playing on the lower denomination machines. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that the RTP may affect players differently.
Because the payout is averaged out over a long period, some players may see much better or worse results. A player that scores a significant win or any profit at all is clearly beating the predetermined edge.
That means another player will likely see an RTP well below the average. Still, over a long enough time, all players should expect an average above 92%.
VGDs Offer No Competition for Slot Machines in Arkansas
In several states without many casino gaming options, video gaming devices are a popular alternative.
Neighboring states like Louisiana have a tremendous VGD business. The games are installed in restaurants, bars, hotels, and even truck stops.
However, Arkansas gaming laws are far more strict than many of its neighbors. So, instead of covering how the VGDs offer no real competition for the casinos, let’s look at how the slots in Arkansas are played.
Arkansas gaming laws have a strict designation on the types of games allowed. More precisely, the law prohibits any games that are considered games of chance purely.
This is of significant note because many of the standard VGDs found on the open market are video poker varieties — games that are primarily considered to be skill-based.
Regardless, it seems the voting population isn’t interested in having gambling devices in hotels or restaurants.
So, the casino gamblers in the state that prefer the slot machines are given skill-based slot machines to play. These machines are primarily similar to your standard slot machines, with one crucial distinction.
The skill aspect comes from having the opportunity to choose whether to keep your original spin or spin the reels again. Imagine video poker, where you’re allowed to discard reels instead of cards after your initial spin.
This variation incorporates an element of skill for players and makes the games legal under current Arkansas gaming laws.
The law also allows for other electronic games like electronic blackjack and video poker. Still, the slots are far and away the most popular games in the state.
Table games are legal in Arkansas because they are considered skill-based. Still, slot machines account for the most significant portion of casino revenue.
Arkansas Slots Reviews (Best Slot Machines)
Oaklawn and Southland Park both offer a wide selection of denominations for slot machines. As is the case in most slot machine areas, the penny slots rule the roost.
Here are a few of the top-paying penny slots you’ll enjoy at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort:
- Buffalo Diamond
- Black Diamond Platinum
- Cash Machine
- Flippin’ Out
- Gold Stack 88
- River Dragons
Oaklawn also offers something for the heavy pockets of the high roller. In the high-limits area, you’ll be able to enjoy my favorite games below:
- Double Easy Money
- Elvis Shake Rattling Wheels
- Heat Wave
- Johnny Cash
- Monopoly Money
- Super Charged 7s
You’ll find hundreds of other titles stretched across all denominations at Oaklawn. In total, the casino offers more than 1,530 slot machines for players to enjoy.
Southland Park Casino also has a few games that stand above the rest when it comes to the best payouts. The casino boasts an impressive selection of over 2,000 games.
Here are some of the best games you’ll find at Southland Park:
- Wheel of Fortune Double Diamond
- Buffalo Grand
- Dancing Drums
- Dragon’s Riches
Southland Park also has two unique slots areas dedicated to specific game themes.
The first is Cashman Cove, where there are 26 games, all featuring the legendary Mr. Cashman. Second is Buffalo Slots featuring over 133 games dedicated to the great icon of the great plains.
One thing is sure, whether you opt for the modern money-making marvels of Mr. Cashman or the feel of Americana you get in the Buffalo Slots, Southland Park has something for everyone.
It would be best to consider that the highest RTP games in the casino are higher denomination machines. I’m not advising you to make the leap from penny slots to $1 games if it’s not in your budget.
However, going up to the nickel slots could drastically impact how much of a return you’ll be able to expect.
Arkansas Casino Reviews (Best Casinos)
I will cover the two commercial casinos in Arkansas and the lone Tribal casino in the state (which hasn’t opened its doors yet).
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is a beautiful property in Hot Springs, AR. The expansive resort offers a racetrack, casino, wedding venues, entertainment, and hotel.
As you’d expect, the hotel comes with a full-service spa. Guests can relax in the tranquil space and even make unique candles, masks, and bath treatments home to duplicate the magical experience.
Oaklawn Racing has been one of the preeminent names in thoroughbred racing since 1904. The racetrack is home to the $1 million Arkansas Derby, one of the largest races in the country.
The casino holds over 1,500 slot machines and 32 table games. The table games included the casino classics like blackjack and roulette.
You’ll also find amazing games like 3 Card Poker, Fusion Roulette, and Fusion Blackjack. This selection provides terrific opportunities for gamblers to break away from their traditional casino games.
You can cap your casino gaming off with a stint in the sportsbook. Oaklawn is your premier destination for sports betting in Arkansas.
Southland Park has many of the same amenities that you’ll find at Oaklawn. The casino has excellent dining choices, a hotel, a casino, and a racetrack.
The racetrack is vastly different from what you’ll find in Hot Springs. The racetrack here in West Memphis plays home to the greyhounds.
So, while the racing experience is vastly different, the casino itself is essentially the same. This is especially true for slot machine enthusiasts.
In addition to the 2,000 slot machines, the casino has 41 table games. Players can try their luck at blackjack, craps, and a variety of poker derivative games.
The River Valley Casino is slated to be the first tribal casino in Arkansas. The casino will be situated near Russellville, AR, and would be the lone casino operating in the state sans racetrack.
Unfortunately, the casino has faced staunch opposition despite falling within the parameters of the state’s agreement on tribal casinos.
Should the casino get off the ground, it’ll likely become a premium gambling destination in the region. It appears they have an uphill climb on their hands.
How Do Arkansas Casinos and Slots Compare to Other Nearby Casino Destinations?
Arkansas shares borders with six states. Of those six, four offer legitimate casino gambling. Texas and Tennessee being the only outliers.
Let’s look at the 4 states bordering Arkansas that offer competition.
Missouri has a total of 13 casinos. Each offers a unique gaming experience that covers all the needs of gamblers within Missouri and nearby states.
River City Casino is one of the most desirable gambling destinations in the state. The casino offers 20x craps and a $10,000 limit on blackjack.
Players also have their pick from over 1,900 slot machines in this fabulous casino in St. Louis.
Louisiana has a ton of casino options and provides some of the heaviest direct competition to Arkansas’ two casinos.
The casino industry in Louisiana is strong throughout the state, but it’s primarily focused on Shreveport and Lake Charles.
Overall, the state has 23 casinos, both commercial and tribal. Eldorado Resort Casino in Shreveport has an expansive casino floor with over 1,500 slot machines.
In Lake Charles, it’s the Golden Nugget that draws in gamblers from many states. The casino has over 1,600 of the latest slot machines on its floor and boasts some of the best RTP in Louisiana.
Mississippi shares only a small border with Arkansas but offers a large variety for the casino gambler.
There are 29 casinos in Mississippi. Some of the finest casinos in the United States lie within the state.
Beau Rivage Casino Resort is everything you could hope to find on the Las Vegas Strip on the Gulf Coast. The casino has over 1,800 of the latest slots titles for players’ enjoyment.
Mississippi has become a true force in the U.S. casino industry. The casino surge in the state has definitely been felt across the border.
The last time I was at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, OK, I was blown away by the number of Arkansas license plates in the lot.
It’s typical for Texas plates to outnumber Oklahoma plates. Still, I was surprised to see Arkansas taking such a large percentage.
WinStar is the largest casino on the planet, and it’s stuffed to the gills with games. Players can choose from over 8,500 electronic games at WinStar.
Additional Arkansas Casino Gambling Details
Should either of the two proposed tribal casinos come to fruition, they’ll become the largest in the state.
It seems more like a question of “when” than “if,” but the struggles may continue for years.
The state’s citizens have plenty of choices for gambling if they’re comfortable getting out of town for a few days.
However, the politicians will only be able to ignore the over 3,000 jobs created and nearly $60 million in tax revenue for so long.
It looks like casino gaming is on the way up in Arkansas. The addition of casinos without the lure of racing should increase the state’s overall interest in the activity.
Ultimately, Arkansas may begin earning back the money of those currently crossing state lines to do their gambling.
The facts are that players have limited options when finding the best payout casinos in Arkansas. You have Oaklawn or Southland Park.
Perhaps, within the next few years, gamblers in the state will have more gaming choices. Until that time, many gamblers may be looking at their neighbors for casino trips.