HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - It's called a game of skill, but that doesn't mean it's casino gambling, according to officials at Oaklawn.
Casinos are illegal in Arkansas, and with gambling options expanding at the race track, some wonder: What's the difference?
"I believe we already have full blown casinos in Arkansas.I believe there's one at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, and I believe there's one at Southland in West Memphis," said Jerry Cox, executive director of Arkansas Family Council.
"I mean compared to the different types of games you're going to find in Las Vegas, no. We're not at that level. We don't want to be at that level," explained Jennifer Hoyt, media relations manager at Oaklawn.
In 2005, the Arkansas Legislature approved 23-113-201:
"Wagering on electronic games of skill during the calendar year where the franchise holder is authorized by the Arkansas Racing Commission to conduct pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing or greyhound racing."
In short, only establishments that have horse and dog racing are allowed to host wagering on electronic games. It comes down to the definition of "games of skill" versus "games of chance." Officials at Oaklawn feel the new method of playing Blackjack is still defined under games of skill.
"It used to be where you came and played with real chips, but you saw your cards on a video monitor. We've actually flipped that. Now you're playing with real cards but you're making your bets electronically," Hoyt said.
"This is still expanding, and I don't know if there will come a day when people say 'Enough. We don't want to keep expanding this.' Or if they're going to say 'Oh well. We don't have a problem with it.' But, our job here is to let people know about it," Cox added.
Last October, Nancy Todd Incorporated of Las Vegas sought a constitutional amendment for exclusive casino rights in Arkansas, which would have brought four casinos to the state.
The Arkansas Supreme Court rejected those measures.
Oaklawn and Southland both offer Arkansas gaming in the form of pari-mutuel wagering, or pooled bets.