Sports betting in the United States has taken off in the last few years, and there are many reasons for this spike in popularity. Of course, the biggest reason for this is the recent surge in its accessibility, as more and more states legalize and regulate sports betting. 

Sportsbooks online and on land are opening up all over the U.S. However, not all sports gambling laws are the same, so, to better know them, here is your state-by-state guide to the current U.S. sports gambling laws. 

Brief History of Sports Betting Law

Where we are today with sports betting is due to the Supreme Court overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018. The state of New Jersey had challenged the constitutionality of the PASPA under the Tenth Amendment. 

This was not the Garden State’s first attempt either. They had spent years in the court system looking to create a legally-regulated sports betting market. 

In May of 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in New Jersey’s favor, and sports betting was essentially legal. Oversight moved from the federal level to the state level. Now, any state government willing to take up the issue can and many already have.

SPORTS GAMING IS LEGAL:

Nevada

Nevada has been the crown jewel of gambling in America, and that is unlikely to change. Despite now being legal in other states, Nevada still took in a record $581 million in sports bets in November 2018. That led to a revenue of $27 million for the state coffers. It’s been legal to bet on sports in Nevada since 1949, so established rules and regulations in place there will likely serve as templates for other states to follow once they enter the world of sports gaming.

  • Online Sportsbooks: There are many online sportsbooks available such as William Hill, Wynn, and PlayMGM.
  • In-Person Registration: Yes
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Nearly every casino in Nevada has a sportsbook, and many of the country’s best, such as Caesars and MGM Grand, are found here.
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

Of course, the state of Nevada enjoyed a monopoly on sports betting for decades, so they remain a leader in the field. There are literally hundreds of sportsbooks available in the state and the city of Las Vegas remains a popular tourist destination for major sporting events because of this.

Delaware

While New Jersey was the public face of the push to legalize sports betting, “The First State” lived up to its moniker in becoming the first to open legal sportsbooks since PASPA was overturned. Delaware legalized single-game wagers on June 5, 2018.

The state offered some parlay-based sports wagering through the state lottery system that earned it a partial exemption from PAPSA, and now fully-operational sports books are located at the state’s three casinos: Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Delaware Park Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino. Online gambling on sports is legal here but isn’t currently being offered.

  • Online Sportsbooks: While online sportsbooks are legal in Delaware, they are currently unavailable as of yet. 
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Delaware Park Casino, Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, Harrington Raceway Casino
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

Delaware was the first state outside of Nevada to accept a sports wager in June of 2018. Sports betting is now legal at all three of the state’s casinos. 

The Delaware Lottery oversees all legal gambling in the state and, although online sportsbooks are legal, they have yet to launch this product. 

New Jersey

After becoming legal on June 11, 2018, betting locations opened in casinos and pari-mutuel facilities up and down the state, from Atlantic City casinos to the Meadowlands racetrack. Betting is also legal online, but you must physically be in the state to place these wagers. If you drive through the Holland Tunnel, when you emerge in Manhattan, you will be blocked from taking any action with mobile gaming providers.

This provides an unprecedented level of convenience. But with online sportsbooks venturing into uncharted waters, bumps in the road like DraftKings’ disputed contest during the NFL playoffs are likely to occur and will require further regulation from the state.

  • Online Sportsbooks: BetMGM, PointsBet, DraftKings
  • In-Person Registration: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: The Meadowlands, Bally’s, Borgata, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock AC, Harrah’s, Monmouth Park, Ocean Resort Casino, Resorts AC, Tropicana
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old, and players are not allowed to bet on in-state college teams.

The legalization of sports betting in the United States all began with New Jersey’s case reaching the Supreme Court. Since then, New Jersey has been legalizing as many gambling markets as possible, including online and on-land sportsbooks. 

They are now a leader in the industry, and other states are following their lead.

Mississippi

On August 1, 2018, people in Mississippi could place legal wagers on sports for the first time. It’s currently only allowed at land- and water-based casinos. There is a bill currently making its way through the state legislature that, if approved, would legalize online sports betting throughout the state.

  • Online Sportsbooks: Only available on-site.
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: There are over 20 sportsbooks in operation in the state, including Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike in Tunica, which were the first two. 
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

Existing Mississippi state law, or rather the lack thereof, made legalizing sports betting very simple in the state. Basically, once the PASPA was overturned, there were no laws prohibiting sports betting, so Mississippi was able to act fast. 

For now, sports betting is only legal at a licensed casino, so any online sports betting is limited to on-site.

West Virginia

The Mountain State joined the ranks of sportsbook-friendly states on August 30, 2018. Sports wagering is allowed at five locations: Hollywood Casino, Mardi Gras Casino, Mountaineer Casino, Wheeling Island, and The Casino Club at The Greenbrier. West Virginia also joins Nevada and New Jersey with active online sports gaming options. Betlucky.com is currently in operation, and DraftKings will soon join the fray.

  • Online Sportsbooks: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM
  • In-Person Registration: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Hollywood Casino, Mardi Gras Casino, Mountaineer Casino, Wheeling Island, The Casino Club at the Greenbrier
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

West Virginia is another state which aggressively pursued legal sports betting and now has a very active market with three online sportsbooks and five on land.

New Mexico

With what must be the most original method of legalizing, New Mexico now has three sportsbooks operating in the state. Of course, the New Mexico statehouse had nothing to do with it. 

Three Tribal casinos have opened sportsbooks, claiming the right under their state compact that allows them to offer casino games. So, New Mexico has sportsbooks even though they have no sport betting laws.

  • Online Sportsbooks: None
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Santa Ana Star, Hilton Buffalo Thunder, The Sportsbook at the Inn of the Mountain Gods
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is among the states that passed legislation to legalize sports gambling, daily fantasy sports, and online poker prior to PASPA’s demise. The Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course outside of Harrisburg was the first to take bets in November 2018. Sportsbooks in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia soon followed, and many more are on the way.

There were concerns that operators might shy away from Pennsylvania due to the state requiring a licensing fee of $10 million, along with levying a monstrous 36 percent tax rate on revenue (Mississippi’s, for example, is 8 percent). However, those concerns appear to be unfounded, as the books were pleased with the $16 million in wagers taken in December 2018. Right now there are no online gaming options, but they are in development.

  • Online Sportsbooks: DraftKings, FanDuel, Unibet, SugarHouse, Rivers, Fox Bet
  • In-Person Registration: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Hollywood Casino, SugarHouse, Rivers Casino, Parx Casino, South Philadelphia Turf Club, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Valley Forge Casino, Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

The sports betting industry is alive and well in The Keystone State. Not only do they have sportsbooks online and on land, but the state is also continuously expanding the options. 

Pennsylvania expects to have at least three more online sportsbooks operating in 2020, as well as three more operating on land TBA.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s state House filed a bill in late January that would legalize sports wagering at horse tracks and statewide via an online system. Betting on college sports won’t be allowed. In February, it was passed.

The state of New Hampshire has taken a unique approach to its sports betting industry. DraftKings won their bid for online exclusivity in New Hampshire and, in return, will pay out 50% of their profits to the state. 

Plus, since their lottery oversees the industry, they will be setting up retail outlets throughout the state in the near future.

  • Online Sportsbooks: DraftKings
  • In-Person Registration: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Coming soon via the New Hampshire Lottery
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 18 years old, and players are not allowed to bet on in-state college teams.

Rhode Island

Sports gambling in Rhode Island began on November 26 at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln. The Twin River Tiverton Casino came on board in December. Online wagering is still illegal, but there is a bill that Senate President Dominick Ruggerio submitted that would pave the way for mobile gaming if enacted into law.

  • Online Sportsbooks: Legal in the state but yet to launch.
  • In-Person Registration: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Twin River Casino, Twin River Tiverton Casino
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 18 years old, and players are not allowed to bet on in-state college teams.

Rhode Island became the eighth state in the union to legalize sports betting. The Rhode Island Lottery oversees sports betting in the state and will soon launch online to better serve the entire state, as there are only two land-based sportsbooks.

New York

New York was among the states that legalized sports gaming, but it has yet to roll out a plan to make it a reality. It is expected to be addressed during the legislative session this spring. In 2013, sportsbooks were approved for the state’s four commercial casinos: Del Lago Resort & Casino, Tioga Downs Casino, Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady, and Resorts World Catskills.

As expected lawmakers tried to expand this provision to include the state’s many tribal casinos, race tracks, and off-track betting (OTB) facilities. There’s also a debate on whether the state will allow online gaming. 

  • Online Sportsbooks: Not available, but legislation is expected to pass in the future. 
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Rivers, FanDuel, DraftKings, Turning Stone, Point Place, Yellow Brick Road Casino, 
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

The gridlock of the New York statehouse is well-documented, and there may be no better example of it than the continuous legal sports betting debate. The state is making progress, though, and there are now six sportsbooks operating in the state. Upstate that is. 

Sports betting has yet to expand southward toward New York City, and this has left many major players in the market scratching their heads. Online sportsbooks are still unavailable as well, but the discussion about expanding these two products continues.

Arkansas

A statewide referendum on adding sports betting as part of an expanding gambling provision in four counties was passed by voters in November 2018. The amendment calls for the Arkansas Racing Commission to draft rules to regulate the industry, and it must begin accepting applications for legal sports betting on or before June 1, 2019. It was passed, and wagers are being taken in this football crazed state.

  • Online Sportsbooks: None
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

Arkansas voters passed a referendum that legalized sports gambling in the state. However, it is limited to one land-based casino thus far. 

There are at least three other properties eligible to offer sports betting, but none of them have yet to do so.

Iowa

Iowa completed sports betting in June of 2019 and had their industry up and running by the end of the year. There are many sportsbooks available in the state online and on land with only more on the way. 

Iowa will require in-person registration to access online sportsbooks until January 1, 2021. This somewhat limits players’ options for now, as certain online sportsbooks are directly affiliated with certain casinos, so your choices are determined on how far you are willing to drive. 

  • Online Sportsbooks: DraftKings, PointsBet, Hard Rock Sioux City, Q Casino, Elite Casinos
  • In-Person Registration: Yes, until January 1, 2021
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Amistar III, Catfish Bend, Diamond Jo – Worth, Grand Falls, Harrah’s Council Bluffs, Horseshoe Council Bluffs, Isle of Capri, Isle Waterloo, Lakeside, Prairie Meadows, Q Casino, Rhythm City, Riverside
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

Indiana

Indiana was another state quick to market and, in doing so, was able to capitalize on sports bettors crossing state lines into their sportsbooks. This may have subsided, but the industry remains strong and growing. 

In fact, more online sportsbooks are sure to continue to join the market.

  • Online Sportsbooks: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers, BetAmerica, BetMGM, PointsBet
  • In-Person Registration: No 
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Ameristar, Belterra, Blue Chip, French Lick Resort, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Hollywood Casino, Horseshoe Hammond, Horseshoe Southern Indiana Hotel, Indiana Grand Racing, Majestic Star, Rising Star Casino, Tropicana Evansville, and all three Winner Circle venues. 
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old, and players are not allowed to wager on esports.

Oregon

Oregon launched its sports betting industry in 2019, and sports bettors can now place wagers at the Chinook Winds Casino as well as online. There is only one online sportsbook in Oregon, and it is run by the state lottery. 

While this will be the only online option available, look for more land-based sportsbooks to open as every tribal casino is allowed to do so. 

  • Online Sportsbooks: Scoreboard
  • In-Person Registration: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Chinook Winds Casino
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

Illinois

Like many states, Illinois has had a bumpy road to sports betting legalization. However, they have crossed the first major hurdle now as sports betting online and on land is legal in the state. 

Only one of the land-based sportsbooks has opened for business, so we have to wait to see just how many more will join the industry.  Of course, Illinois and their luck ran up against the undefeated Corona Virus, so the timing was not great there. More to come with Illinois!

  • Online Sportsbooks: Legal but still pending launch.
  • In-Person Registration: Yes
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Rivers Casino
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old, and players are not allowed to bet on in-state college teams.

Michigan

The state of Michigan had been trying since 2015 to legalize sports betting, and finally, with the help of the Supreme Court, the industry was made legal in 2019. 

The state finally got live betting in three casinos on March 11 and 12, just in time for all of the sports to be shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So it is still a matter of time before we know just how many sportsbooks, online or on land, will be in Michigan.

  • Online Sportsbooks: Pending launch
  • In-Person Registration: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

Montana

Montana may prove as a case study as to how not to launch your sports betting industry. While they’ve used their lottery to oversee the operation, just as other states have done, they’re using the company Intralot to provide the tech. 

Providing terminals instead of sportsbooks is an interesting idea due to Montana’s sparse population. However, terrible lines and odds were noticed immediately upon launch. 

Hopefully, this will make states rethink giving no-bid seven-year exclusivity deals away so freely, as this was Montana’s approach with Intralot.

    • Online Sportsbooks: Legal but still pending launch by the Montana Lottery.
    • In-Person Registration: No
    • Land-Based Sportsbooks: There are over 100 licensed terminals provided by the Montana Lottery.
    • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

States Where Sports Betting is Pending

Tennessee

  • Online Sportsbooks: Legal but still pending launch.
  • In-Person Registration: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: None
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

The Volunteer State has taken a rather novel approach to sports betting, as they are only going to permit online sportsbooks to operate in the state. No land-based sportsbooks will be given licenses as Tennessee’s anti-gambling laws are very strict. 

Legislators were able to circumvent a lot of red tape by making the industry completely online. Many major companies are interested in entering the space, but we will have to wait and see how many jump on-board.

Washington

  • Online Sportsbooks: Pending legislation
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Pending legislation

The state of Washington is another interesting case in passing sports betting legislation. First of all, the state citizens, as well as the statehouse, are on board with the industry coming to Washington, and there have been three bills brought up in the statehouse. 

However, the only one to pass limits all sportsbooks to the Tribal casinos of the state. Of course, this has angered the other companies looking to claim a license. This bill is headed to court, so Washington’s sports betting timeline remains TBA.

North Carolina

  • Online Sportsbooks: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River are both pending launch. 
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

North Carolina passed legislation legalizing sports betting in 2019 and only for their two Tribal casinos. There will be no online sportsbooks available, and both of the casinos are located in the far western corner of the state, severely limiting the legislation’s reach. 

Colorado

  • Online Sportsbooks: Legal but still pending launch – targeting May 1st
  • In-Person Registration: No
  • Land-Based Sportsbooks: Yes
  • Restrictions: The legal gambling age is 21 years old.

The Mile High City of Denver is going to be a hot bed for sports betting. There is still some work to be done in Colorado. They are targeting May 1st for legal sports betting, of course, the Corona Virus pandemic has put a halt on that, and many other things around the country. Keep your eyes on Colorado in the next couple weeks.

Offshore Sportsbooks Continue to Thrive

The sports gambling market is expanding. Not only are all of these states now permitting sports betting, but there are also many more on the way. There is plenty of competition in the market these days. 

However, even in states with legal gambling, the offshore sportsbooks remain very popular, and many observers estimate they are as lucrative as ever. 

So why do offshore sportsbooks continue to thrive with so many legal options now available?

First of all, even as much as legal sports betting has expanded as of late, it has not reached every corner of the U.S. These are areas where offshore sportsbooks are perfect and why they were established in the first place. 

Competition is good in any market and, after all is said and done, what are offshore sportsbooks but more competition? In this regard, the offshore sportsbooks have a big advantage as well, as they have had so much more experience in promotion. 

Whether it’s with free wagers or big bonuses, offshore sportsbooks know how to attract customers, as they’ve been doing it for a long time.

The last major reason offshore sportsbooks will continue to thrive is because of their overhead. Or lack thereof, we should say. There are no fees or taxes for them to pay so they have no problem offering the best lines. 

Other legit sportsbooks have those fees to contend with and will sometimes make up for those losses in their lines and odds. All of a sudden, -110 wagers become -120. 

We’ve seen this happen already in a few states. Good gamblers want good lines, and they will go anywhere to get them, even offshore.

The Future of Sports Betting

The future of legal sports betting is very bright. Yes, there will be setbacks and a few hoops to jump through, but it is only a matter of time before the vast majority of sports-betting Americans will be able to place a sports wager whenever they please. 

It was in 2016 that black market sports betting was estimated to be a $20 billion industry. Is that a number we will see some time soon? Or will we surpass it? Only time will tell. 

FAQ

Why isn’t sports betting legal in every state?

When The Supreme Court overturned the PASPA, they essentially legalized sports betting in so much as they removed any federal laws blocking states from allowing a regulated market. 

With the PASPA out of the way, states are now free to set their own sports betting laws and regulations. Whether they choose to do so or not is completely up to each individual state.

Why is it so difficult for some states to pass legal sports betting?

With the PASPA out of the way, states still have to work around existing state laws. Of course, some of these states have more restrictive laws than others. 

Not only this, but there are many states where sports betting is not a popular political issue. 

Why are offshore sportsbooks illegal?

There are many reasons offshore sportsbooks are illegal. Mainly because they are unregulated and untaxed. However, it should be noted offshore sportsbooks operate in a grey area of the law. 

They are out of the jurisdiction of the U.S.; hence the offshore distinction and their users are never prosecuted for illegal gambling. This is why they remain illegal but widely accessible. 

Are other states going to legalize sports betting?

Even not counting the three states with sports betting industries still pending, there are many states still considering industries of their own. California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Kansas have all floated bills in their statehouses. 

Every state faces its own set of obstacles to sports betting legalization, and only time will tell how many can pass it into law.

NOTHING ON THE HORIZON:

  • Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.