It has been more than two years since the Supreme Court of the United States struck down PASPA. That move opened the door to legal sports betting in the US as the justices effectively handed the legislative decision over to individual states.
Since that point, we have seen a flurry of activity. Many states are now completely up and running with legal sports betting. Other states are still sorting through legalization, and more are expected to follow.
While some states have retail, mobile and online options, others require bets to be placed only in-person. There are also restrictions in place to ensure that users are within state lines while placing bets via mobile devices.
The landscape has changed dramatically in a short period of time.
United States laws that regulate gambling for real money, including betting on sports, have changed multiple times and often been left open to different interpretations. We will bring some clarity to this somewhat complicated matter by explaining the current status of legal sports betting in the US, both offline and online. The best online betting sites in USA compete with one another to gain customers. To attract new bettors from the United States, they offer welcome packages that often include deposit bonuses or free bets. Gambling in the United States is legally restricted. In 2008, gambling activities generated gross revenues (the difference between the total amounts wagered minus the funds or 'winnings' returned to the players) of $92.27 billion in the United States. Despite its stance on US sports betting, the NFL allowed the move of the Raiders to Las Vegas from Oakland beginning in 2020. The NFL is the only major professional sports league with no direct investment into daily fantasy sports, although 28 of its 32 teams are involved in sponsorships. Bet on horses on over 300 racetracks. Join today to get up to a $500 Cash Bonus instantly and qualify for another $150! Online horse betting with rebates up to 8% paid daily. Learn more here at US Racing.
Legal US sports betting apps
Not all states that allow legal sports betting will choose to use online or mobile wagering platforms. Some have rules that allow online and mobile wagering anywhere within state lines, while others require bets to be placed inside a casino.
Just because you download a sports betting app that is legal in one state doesn’t mean it will work in another. Smartphone apps will verify your location within a legal betting area before allowing you to wager. You will be rejected from betting if outside the legal borders.
Where can I place a legal online sports bet?
The list of legal online sports betting states continues to grow. Currently, it’s up to 14 states and Washington, DC, but the official launch is still pending in some spots.
* Pending launch
Colorado sports betting sites
Legal sports betting was approved by voters in Colorado in 2019. The official online and mobile rollout took place on May 1, 2020, with DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers and BetMGM all going live on the same day. Several other operators have since gone live in the state.
Illinois sports betting sites
Legislation was also passed in Illinois in 2019 with the official launch taking place in March 2020. Initially, only retail betting was allowed, with in-person registration required for online and mobile players. That provision has been suspended for the time being because of the COVID-19 pandemic. DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet and BetRivers are among the available options.
Indiana sports betting sites
Sports betting was legalized in Indiana in 2019. The rollout happened quickly, with retail options opening up in September of that year, followed by online and mobile launch in October. DraftKings and BetRivers were the first sites available, followed by FanDuel a month later. The list of available options continues to grow.
Iowa sports betting sites
Iowa was also among the states that both legalized and went live with sports betting in 2019. Legislation was passed in May, with the retail and mobile launch coming in August. Through the end of 2020, online and mobile users have to register in-person at a casino that offers sports betting. DraftKings, PointsBet and William Hill are among the operators that are live in Iowa.
Michigan sports betting sites
Sports betting was signed into law in December 2019 in Michigan. Retail sportsbooks opened up in March 2020 and mobile sportbook apps became legal for sports betting in Michigan in January 2021.
Nevada sports betting sites
Nevada’s days as the only option for legal US sports betting are over. Not much has changed for the state since the SCOTUS ruling. While more known for in-person wagering at casinos throughout Las Vegas such as Westgate and Caesars, the state also has online and mobile options available from operators like William Hill.
New Hampshire sports betting sites
Sports betting officially debuted in New Hampshire in December 2019 after being approved by the state Legislature earlier in the year. The approval covered both retail and mobile, but the situation is unique in NH. DraftKings is the exclusive provider of online and mobile wagering in the state and also the operator of the lone retail shops.
New Jersey sports betting sites
The Garden State was one of the first to act after the landmark Supreme Court ruling. Retail sports betting rolled out in June 2018. DraftKings was the first online option in August, followed by PlaySugarhouse and FanDuel. There are now more than a dozen options NJ sports betting apps on the market.
Oregon sports betting sites
Oregon legalized sports betting in August 2019. Retail wagering was introduced at one of the state’s tribal casinos the following month. In October, the Scoreboard sports betting app was launched. Run by the state lottery, this is the only mobile option available for sports bettors in Oregon.
Pennsylvania sports betting sites
Pennsylvania was among the states that moved quickly in the wake of the PASPA ruling. Retail sportsbooks opened for business in November 2018. The official online launch took place in May 2019. SugarHouse was the first site to go live, and it was soon joined by sister property BetRivers and others including DraftKings and FanDuel.
Rhode Island sports betting sites
Rhode Island sports betting legislation was approved in 2018, but it was initially for retail only at the state’s two operating casinos. The following year, a new bill was approved that gave the green light to mobile wagering with an in-person registration requirement, which has since been removed. The Rhode Island Lottery oversees things, with William Hill handling operations.
Tennessee sports betting sites
Tennessee approved sports betting in April 2019. It’s a unique situation as there are not expected to be any retail sportsbooks in the state. Sports bettors are now able to place mobile wagers as of November 2020.
Virginia sports betting sites
Sports betting was legalized in Virginia in April 2020 and officially launched its first sportsbook in January 2021. According to state law, there will be a minimum of four and as many as 12 mobile options available.
Washington, DC, sports betting sites
The city council gave its approval to sports betting in 2018, but the bill wasn’t signed into law until the following January. GambetDC, an offering run by the lottery and powered by Intralot, is the sole online and mobile option for bettors since its launch in 2020. A William Hill retail sportsbook has since opened for business at the Capital One Arena.
West Virginia sports betting sites
West Virginia also sprang into action following the Supreme Court ruling. Retail sportsbooks opened up in September 2018. BetLucky was available for a short time as a mobile option, but it shut down the following year due to a technology dispute. DraftKings and FanDuel went live in WV soon thereafter and have since been joined by other operators.
Best sports betting apps in the US
The list of options for users in legal sports betting states continues to grow. Here are some of the top options available in multiple states.
The daily fantasy sports giant was among the many operators awaiting the Supreme Court ruling in 2018. The company was the first online and mobile option available in NJ. DraftKings has since expanded to a number of other states, with plans for further expansion in the works. It’s known for having a slick platform and live betting feature.
DraftKings Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, PA, IN, IL, WV, NH, IA, CO
FanDuel was also ready to go soon after the SCOTUS ruling. NJ was the first point of entry for the company in sports betting, but the platform has since been unveiled in several other states. FanDuel is known for being visually appealing and user-friendly, with features like single-game parlay offerings.
FanDuel Sportsbook is legal in: PA, IN, NJ, WV, CO, IL, IA
FOX Bet app
Launched as a tag-team effort from media giant FOX Sports and The Stars Group, the platform receives great visibility throughout FOX Sports programming and has a steady stream of promotions tied in with network personalities. FOX Bet is somewhat geared toward newer bettors and is working toward launching in additional states.
FOX Bet Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, PA, CO
Originally known as playMGM upon its launch in NJ, the site and app have since been rebranded. BetMGM has been making a lot of headway with its entry into multiple states and various deals with teams and media entities. The company is one of several with designs on becoming one of the top sports betting destinations across the US.
BetMGM Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, WV, CO, IN
Australia-based PointsBet debuted in NJ in 2019 and has since opened its doors in other states. The site is geared toward sports bettors and features a unique betting option known as PointsBetting. The company captured a good deal of attention with its recent deal with NBC Sports and continues to aggressively pursue market share.
PointsBet Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, IA, IN, IL
William Hill app
The UK bookmaker has had a retail presence in Nevada for some time. It has since expanded into other states both physically and via online and mobile offerings. The platform itself is easy to use and filled with features. William Hill has made some headway in the US in a short period of time and appears poised to continue on that path.
William Hill Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, WV, IL, RI, NV
BetRivers comes our way from Rush Street Gaming, which is also the parent company of sister site PlaySugarhouse. The company also has a retail casino presence in several states. BetRivers has come to be known for having a solid offering and good loyalty program.
BetRivers Sportsbook is legal in: PA, IN, CO, WV
Other legal sports betting apps
The overall list of legal sports betting sites is a lengthy one. Here’s a look at a few more that have debuted in multiple states to date.
Horse racing fans are familiar with BetAmerica, an offering from Churchill Downs International. The sportsbook is now up and running in three states, while users in NJ and PA can also access casino games right from the same site.
BetAmerica Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, IN, PA
The iconic Caesars name is well-known to both online and brick-and-mortar casino patrons. The sportsbook has launched in a trio of states to date. It’s a basic offering, but all of the bet types and sports you could ask for are available.
Caesars Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, PA, IN
This is a newer offering that has made its debut in the Colorado market. The company also has its sights set on entering the New Jersey, Indiana and Iowa markets as soon as possible. As the name implies, the site is solely focused on sports betting.
SportsBetting.com is legal in: CO
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Unibet is an international operator that has a big presence on the global scene. It’s now up and running in select states in the US with plans on entering more soon. This is a basic offering without a lot of bells and whistles, but solid for just getting down to business.
Unibet Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, PA, IN
Which states are most likely to launch sports betting sites next?
Michigan is next up on the launch watch list. The current timeline calls for MI to be live in early 2021.
The following states have passed legislation for retail sports betting at tribal casinos, but the official launch hasn’t happened yet.
- North Carolina
Plans call for retail only in both states, but the fact that sports betting legislation has been passed in at least some form can be seen as a glimmer of hope on the online front.
Three states approved ballot measures in 2020 to make some form of sports betting legal:
- South Dakota
A handful of states have opened up sports betting on a retail basis without launching online. Efforts to legalize online betting in these states have stalled to date, but it remains a work in progress.
- New Mexico
- New York
* Online legal but not launched
There are another 20 states that are at least considering some form of sports betting legislation. The list of states in which there has been absolutely no movement stands at eight.
Retail sports betting
For decades, the only state in which you could legally place a sports bet in person was Nevada. It’s a different story in the aftermath of the PASPA ruling. Here are the states (and Washington, DC) in which you’ll find retail sportsbooks.
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- New York
- New Hampshire
- Washington, DC
Washington and North Carolina are expected to be the next states to open brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at tribal casinos.
Which states are most likely to regulate sports betting next?
Sports betting legislation has at least been introduced in 20 states that have yet to act on the matter. While optimism is high that it’ll eventually be passed in each of these states, there’s nothing concrete that says it’s right around the corner for any of them. Here’s the list.
- South Carolina
- North Dakota
The next legal sports betting states are likely coming from the above list at some point. Meanwhile, these states are still holding out and have yet to introduce legislation to legalize sports betting.
Legal vs. offshore betting
The best options available for US sports bettors come via the sites that have been approved for operations in the respective states. Gaining acceptance and approval is not easy, and those who have joined the list of approved operators have invested heavily to do so.
While there remains an active black market for sports betting via illegal offshore sites, there’s no reason to take the risk. Here are some of the main points to understand.
- The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006 to crack down on offshore operators. The law is aimed at the companies to prevent them from doing business in the US, but many still operate due to what they claim is a legal gray area.
- Offshore operators are not operating under the same rules and regulations that legal US betting sites are. There is no guarantee that your funds, data or information will be safely kept.
- Legal sports betting sites have clear terms and conditions, house rules for players to follow, a wide range of normal funding options and customer service options that can be reached easily. That’s not the case with the offshore sites.
There are a few easy ways to spot which sites are on the up and up versus those that are not. For starters, the majority of legal states maintain a running list of approved operators on their websites under the division of gambling section or its equivalent.
There’s also the eye test. When an operator is legit, it will point users to the right places for information on things such as legality and responsible gambling. That’s not something that’s high on the priority list for less-than-reputable operators.
Things you can’t legally bet on in the US
Each of the individual states is responsible for setting its own rules and regulations for sports betting. As a result, not every piece of legislation that has been passed to date reads in the exact same fashion.
The standard stuff, such as team-based professional sports and major individual competitions, are good to go at all legal and regulated sportsbooks. Each of the operators will also offer various niche sports, but the list of options may vary.
One of the biggest points of difference has been on college sports. While you can bet on college football and basketball in several states, some have expressly prohibited wagering on in-state teams or on amateur events that take place in the state.
In general, the legal sportsbooks stay away from non-sports events. That means no wagering on the weather, reality television outcomes or on elections. However, wagering on the Oscars has been allowed here and there.
Why can’t you bet on the election or weather?
While there is often chatter about the betting odds for major political events such as the US presidential election, it remains illegal to bet on the outcome of that. There may be plenty of history attached to betting on who will be the next president, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal.
Legal and regulated operators offer odds and markets on sporting events. You won’t find options to bet on the weather or reality TV at the big shops, and there’s a simple reason for that: They’re not allowed to.
Sports leagues’ stance on legal sports betting
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took a front-facing role in advocating for legal sports betting in the US. His op-ed embracing sports betting spurred discussion on the topic long before the fall of PASPA.
Before and after the Supreme Court decision, NBA officials spent most of 2018 trying to get a cut of sports betting money from various state legislatures. They helped introduce the concept of an integrity fee in state-level legislation, claiming the league would face increased monitoring and enforcement costs in a national sports betting environment.
Silver recently added to that argument by calling NBA games the league’s “intellectual property” for which it deserves compensation.
The NBA does not permit wagering on its games through the Ontario Lottery, where the Toronto Raptors play. The same policy existed when an NBA team played in Vancouver. Provinces that do not host NBA teams offer parlay cards on games for the sport.
The NHL largely let other leagues take the lead on sports betting issues prior to signing a data and marketing agreement with MGM Resorts in November 2018. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also weighed in during the Stanley Cup Final in Las Vegas: the league wants federal legislation (or state-level equivalents) and a slice of sports betting money.
The NHL launched a new franchise in Las Vegas in 2017, which is the first major professional sports team for the country’s gambling hub. The Vegas Golden Knightsdrew heavy betting interest through their inaugural season.
It has no issues with the activity in Canada. Some teams participate with lotteries that sell NHL parlay cards. The NHL also opposed new sports betting legislation in Canada.
Major League Baseball is sensitive to betting on its games. In the post-PASPA world, though, MLB advocates for sports betting legislation that includes integrity fees paid to the league.
The league also signed a data and marketing deal with MGM Resorts in November 2018. It will provide the company with exclusive rights to advanced data for in-play betting.
With regard to integrity fees, MLB went as far as having top executive Joe Torrelobby Governor Andrew Cuomo directly on New York sports betting legislation. This represents a major shift from the league’s historical attitude toward gambling.
The 1919 Chicago White Sox threw a World Series, a scandal the league wants everybody to forget. Pete Rose betting on his games and the aftermath involved in that scandal is another black eye MLB never wants to see again.
While MLB joined the New Jersey lawsuit, it has no issues with betting on Toronto Blue Jays games in Ontario. The Montreal Expos were also on parlay cards when that team existed.
America’s most powerful sports league remains largely opposed to legal sports betting. The NFL publicly fought sports betting for decades and now wants federal legislation addressing it after PASPA. Interestingly, the NFL is not advocating for integrity fees.
Despite its stance on US sports betting, the NFL allowed the move of the Raiders to Las Vegas from Oakland beginning in 2020.
The NFL is the only major professional sports league with no direct investment into daily fantasy sports, although 28 of its 32 teams are involved in sponsorships.
NFL games are by far the most popular sports betting events in the US, with the Super Bowl generating close to $150 million in bets in Nevada by itself. The NFL plays games in London, where betting shops are on every corner, and the league seems to have no issues with that.
Long the staunchest opponent of legal sports betting, the NCAA finds itself in a tricky position after the repeal of PASPA.
The organization detests sports betting despite the fact that college football and March Madness college betting are two of the largest drivers of handle. The NCAA instituted a de facto ban on national championship contests being held in states with legal sports betting, namely Nevada. But it reversed course after the Supreme Court decision, at least temporarily. That is in part because it already awarded future championships to states that will have sports betting.
The NCAA similarly does not like fantasy sports. It does not permit student-athletes to enter contests. Many conferences do not accept advertising from daily fantasy sites. The NCAA has attempted to convince sites to stop college fantasy sports contests, but DraftKings and FanDuel restarted their college contests post-PASPA.
Professional golf jumped into the sports betting fray by supporting the integrity fee concept along with MLB and the NBA. The tour also wants sports betting operators to pay for official data from its ShotLink system.
The data question also comes up with other leagues, but the PGA Tour claims to have a different case with proprietary data. In-play betting that relies on data can easily be gleaned from TV broadcasts in many sports. The same can be said for golf with scoring, but anything more in-depth (driving distance, length of putts, etc.) could require official data.
How online sports betting in USA became legal
Challenge in New Jersey
New Jersey voters passed a non-binding referendum in November 2011 that instructed the state legislature to legalize sports betting. The legislature quickly passed a bill that would have regulated sports betting at New Jersey racetracks and Atlantic City casinos. Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law.
The major sports leagues challenged New Jersey in court, claiming that the state was not exempted by PASPA; therefore it could not legalize sports betting. A lower court ruling sided with the leagues, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed it. The US Supreme Court at that time refused to hear the case.
New Jersey tried another angle. The state attempted to deregulate and decriminalize sports betting in the same venues as before. The sports leagues returned to court and challenged the new approach to sports betting. The sports leagues prevailed in the lower court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
New Jersey was able to appeal and receive a rehearing in the Third Circuit, which it also lost. The Supreme Court then agreed to hear it and New Jersey won its case in May 2018.
American Gaming Association’s stance
The American Gaming Association is the gaming industry’s lobbying group. It maintains the black market of illegal gambling is too lucrative and thrives in the unregulated environment. The AGA supported the repeal of PASPA and strongly advocates for states to be able to write their own sports betting laws.
How is daily fantasy sports different from sports betting?
Daily fantasy sports is believed to be legal in at least 40 states, according to the companies that promote the product.
There are big differences between daily fantasy sports and sports betting.
In sports betting, a bettor picks a team or multiple teams to win or cover a point spread. In daily fantasy sports, a user chooses athletes and enters a competition that computes a winner based on the statistics accumulated by the players in a sport.
Current status of daily fantasy sports
Daily fantasy sports is generally considered to be legal in about 40 states, with laws on the books in about half of those.
States that restrict DFS
Daily fantasy sports are illegal in Iowa, Montana, Louisiana, Arizona and Washington. Nevada requires a gaming license to operate a daily fantasy sports site.
Opinions from attorneys general have emphasized the legal gray area for DFS in many states. DraftKings, FanDuel and others pulled out of Idaho, Hawaii and Alabama. FanDuel does not serve Texas, but DraftKings does.
FAQ for betting sites
Is it legal to bet on sports online?
Yes, but it depends on where you are located. Legal sports betting can be done online in many of the states mentioned above. You do not have to be a resident of a state to bet there, but you do need to be physically located within the state to place a legal online sports bet.
What is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act?
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed Congress in September 2006. It made payment processing of illegal gambling transactions a federal crime. It exempted gaming specifically legalized at the state level, horse racing and some forms of fantasy sports.
Is sports betting legal in Europe?
Online sports betting is legal throughout most of Europe including the UK. This includes betting shops, mobile apps and over the Internet. Some of the best online betting sites in Europe are now operating in the US.
Is online sports betting legal in Canada?
Canada lotteries offer parlay cards on a variety of sports, including football, basketball, baseball and hockey. There is a push to expand betting to straight wagers. Online betting sites operate in a legal gray area.
Is online sports betting legal in the US?
Yes, in some places. Sports betting has been legalized in a number of states to date, and the list is expected to continue growing in the coming years. In 2018, the Supreme Court placed the matter of legalizing sports betting into the hands of the individual states to decide on. While sports betting has since been legalized in a number of states, legislation hasn’t been passed on a federal level.
What is the safest betting site?
The safest options for sports betting online come via the legal and regulated operators. DraftKings and FanDuel are two examples of operators that have received approval to open for business in a number of states. Legal and regulated sites have to go through a lengthy application process, follow specific rules and regulations, and verify that customer funds are safe. That’s not the case with the unregulated options that may be available.
Why do some sports betting sites accept cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, are not available as funding options at legal and regulated sportsbooks. If you see these options available, then there’s a good chance that you have stumbled upon a black-market operator that claims it can operate safely under some kind of legal gray area. A fully legal site will provide its users with standard funding options such as credit cards, PayPal and wire transfers, and you won’t have to jump through any unnecessary hoops to deposit or withdraw.
Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?
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Yes, profits obtained from sports betting or any other type of gambling are considered taxable income in the US. If you win above a certain level, operators may even provide you with a 1099-G that states your level of winnings, and the form will be filed with the IRS, as well. A complete tracking of the deposits and withdrawals you have made for gambling purposes is a good habit to get into. For specific questions in regard to your personal situation, we encourage you to consult with a tax advisor.
What legal online and mobile sports betting is available in Nevada?
Sports Connection / Station Casinos, NV Sports Books / South Point, William Hill, CG Technology, Aliante Casino, Treasure Island and Boyd Gaming all operate mobile betting apps in Nevada. Sports Connection/Station Casinos also offers a website.
Can you deposit with PayPal at legal Nevada sports betting apps?
No, at this time you cannot deposit using PayPal for any Nevada sports betting apps. You will need to deposit in person or using a pre-paid card. There are options to top off your account at some convenience stores with certain Nevada apps.
PayPal is likely to be an option for payment in other states, however.
Is it legal to play on Bovada?
No. Bovada is an unlicensed sports betting site. It is illegal for the company to operate in the US but players likely face no legal consequences.
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Are there risks to betting on sports at unlicensed sites?
Offshore sportsbooks may not pay players. If a bettor gets stiffed by an unlicensed betting site, then he or she has no recourse. That does not happen at licensed sites.
Sports Betting in other countries: Australia, New Zealand