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Legal sports betting in the United States is one of the fastest-growing markets in this country, especially online wagering. Beginning on May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court lifted its ban on sports betting, repealing the PASPA Act (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) set back in 1992. Since that date, legal sports betting has been growing throughout the United States at a rapid pace.
While not all states have approved legalized sports betting, there are 21 (AR, CO, DE, IL, IN, IA, MI, MS, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NY, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, TN, VA, WV) that have. In addition to the 21, the Washington D.C. region also legalized it. Because of the financial gain of the legalization of sports betting via tax revenue, we are seeing more and more states jump on board this fast-moving train.
Moving forward, expect to see sports betting legalized in nine more states in the coming months. These states may include Washington, Maryland, Connecticut, Florida, Arizona, Nebraska, Wyoming, Louisiana, and South Dakota.
In those states, there is already an approval in place for the legalization of sports wagering. However, there are still many states that are either in the early stages of the process or have yet to begin it at all. Utah remains the lone state unlikely to ever authorize sports wagering, as it has an anti-gambling stance written into its constitution.
Where Can I Legally Bet on Sports?
In the United States, individual states can elect to legalize sports betting under their own discretion following the Supreme Court’s lift of the 1992 federal ban on single-game sports betting, which was repealed in 2018.
On July 1, 2019, Arkansas legalized sports betting, which operates under the Arkansas Racing Commission. While you must be 21 to legally place a sports bet in Arkansas, you can only place in-person wagers at retail locations in the state. Mobile sports betting has yet to be approved.
Colorado legalized sports betting on May 1, 2020. Both mobile and in-person betting are legal in the state. Sports betting there is regulated by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission and the Colorado Division of Gaming. You must be 21 to place wagers in CO.
On June 5, 2018, Delaware legalized sports betting, which is overseen by the Delaware Lottery. You must be 21 to place sports bets in Delaware and can only do so in-person at retail locations. Mobile sports betting is legal in Delaware, but is not currently offered there.
On June 28, 2019, Illinois legalized sports wagering. It is regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board. You must be 21 to place bets in Illinois. Both in-person and mobile wagering are legal in the state.
Indiana legalized sports betting on May 8, 2019, and operates under the state’s Gaming Commission. Indiana permits both in-person and mobile sports wagering for people 21 and over.
On May 13, 2019, Iowa legalized sports betting for both mobile and in-person wagering. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission regulates legal sports betting in the state and you must be 21 to place wagers.
On December 20, 2019, sports betting became legal in Michigan. Both in-person and mobile sports betting are legal in the state. In Michigan, sports betting operates under the state’s Gaming Control Board. You must be 21 to place wagers in MI.
Mississippi legalized sports betting on August 1, 2018 in retail form only. You can not place mobile sports wagers legally in the state as of yet and must be 21 to place wagers. Sports betting is regulated by the state’s Gaming Commission.
On May 3, 2019, Montana legalized sports betting, which is governed by the Montana Lottery. You must be 18 to legally place wagers in Montana. The state permits in-person sports betting at retail locations, while mobile sports betting is limited to the Sports Bet Montana app, which can only be used within the geofenced footprints of those retail locations.
Nevada legalized sports betting and horse racing back in 1949, and until 2018 it was the only state to host legalized sports betting. In Nevada, sports betting is regulated by the state’s Gaming Control Board. You must be at least 21 to bet and can place wagers online and in-person.
New Hampshire made sports betting legal on July 12, 2019, which is regulated by the New Hampshire Lottery. You must be 18 to place wagers on sports in NH. All of the state’s sports wagers flow through DraftKings, which can be placed online and at in-person retail locations.
On June 11, 2018, New Jersey approved the legalization of sports betting, which is regulated by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement. While both in-person and mobile sports betting is legal in NJ, you must be 21 to place wagers legally in the state.
On October 16, 2018, sports betting was legalized in New Mexico, which operates under the Santa Ana Gaming Regulatory Commission. While mobile sportsbooks are not yet legal in New Mexico, you can place wagers in-person at retail locations. You must be 21 to legally place sports bets in NM.
The first legal sports wagers in New York were placed on July 16, 2019. New York sports betting operates under the state’s Gaming Commission and is prohibited for people under age 21. Mobile sports betting was recently approved on April 6, 2021 and could go live by the end of 2021.
In July 2019, North Carolina legalized sports betting for in-person use only at retail locations on the state’s tribal land. You just have to be 21 to legally place a sports bet in North Carolina. Sports betting is regulated by the state of North Carolina.
Oregon legalized sports betting on August 7, 2019, which is regulated by the Oregon Lottery. In Oregon, sports betting is legal for both in-person and mobile use. You must be 21 to legally place a wager on sports in Oregon.
Pennsylvania legalized sports betting on November 17, 2018. It is overseen by the state’s Gaming Control Board. You must be 21 to place wagers in PA and can do so online or in-person.
Rhode Island legalized sports betting on June 22, 2018, which is overseen by the Rhode Island State Lottery. Sports betting is legal for both in-person and mobile use. You must be 18 to legally place bets in RI.
On November 1, 2020, Tennessee legalized sports betting in mobile form only. There are no retail in-person locations to legally place a bet in the state. The Tennessee Education Lottery oversees sports betting in the state. You must be 21 to legally place wagers in Tennessee.
Virginia legalized sports betting in April 2020 in mobile form only. There are no retail in-person locations set for wagering in the state as of now. Sports betting is regulated by the Virginia Lottery. You must be 21 to place wagers in VA.
On March 25, 2020, Washington D.C. legalized sports betting. It is regulated by the City Council and is legal for both in-person and mobile use. You must be 18 to legally place wagers on sports in Washington D.C.
On August 30, 2018, West Virginia legalized sports betting. It is regulated by the West Virginia Lottery Commission and is legal for both in-person and mobile use. You must be 21 to legally place wagers on sports in WV.
Legal vs. Offshore Betting Sites
Prior to 2018, offshore sportsbooks and betting accounts were essential for placing sports bets. However, with sports betting becoming legalized in more states, they are no longer necessary.
Cons of Offshore Betting Accounts
While some offshore sportsbooks have been around since the infancy of the internet, they are not regulated by the United States, leaving you unprotected as a result. Here are some other cons to consider when it comes to offshore betting sites:
- Despite their past popularity, offshore betting accounts are illegal in the United States, which means they are not governed and regulated by the US.
- Offshore betting sites are not held to acceptable operating standards and do not protect their users or their money.
- Since offshore sportsbooks are illegal in the US, they are more susceptible to suspicious activity.
- Limited deposit and withdrawal options.
- No guarantees that you will get paid upon cashing out.
Pros of Legal Betting Sites in the United States
On the other hand, legal wagering on sports in the US has its advantages:
- You Will Get Paid: Because the government oversees sports betting, there are ample laws and regulations to protect the consumer and his/her money.
- Legal Banking Transactions: Since you are legally wagering and the government is overseeing all operations of the industry, you don’t have to worry about shady banking practices. There are multiple ways to deposit and withdraw funds from your sports betting account such as online banking, PayPal, and credit/debit cards.
- More Betting Options: Because sports betting is legal in the United States, you can place wagers on almost anything under the individual sportsbook’s discretion, which is often more comprehensive than offshore accounts.
- Free Bets and Promotions: Contrary to most offshore betting markets, legal sportsbooks in the US often offer their customers aggressive promotions and rewards to keep the user coming back.
- You Are Helping the United States’ Economy (Sort Of): The US government makes tax revenue off legal sports betting, which is better than helping the people who run illegal sportsbooks.
Best US Sports Betting Sites
While DraftKings has been around since 2012 for DFS, their online sportsbooks were not launched until August 2018 thanks to their partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. Because of their notoriety and branding, it didn’t take long for DraftKings to become a powerhouse in the mobile sportsbooks and online casino realm.
Not only can you wager with DraftKings in 10+ states, but they also have some of the best promotions and rewards on the market. While DK’s odds aren’t always the greatest, they balance it out with boosts and other perks to keep the customer coming back.
FanDuel Sportsbook came to fruition back in 2018. Similar to DraftKings, FanDuel began as a DFS site years before launching their mobile sportsbook. While they don’t have a poker room, FanDuel does offer an online Casino powered by Betfair.
FanDuel Sportsbook has various similarities to DraftKings, including their customer perks, rewards, and boosts. Their odds are sometimes too high for the expert sports wagerer, but with so many betting options at FanDuel there is literally something for everyone.
Naturally, BetMGM is owned by MGM Resorts International in Paradise, Nevada. Launched in September 2019, BetMGM is one of the largest and most recognizable online sportsbooks in the industry.
Available in both online and mobile formats, BetMGM is one of the most extensive sportsbooks on the market in terms of the variety of betting markets, promotions, and rewards. They also feature some of the deepest NFL Futures betting options around.
PointsBet was founded in 2015 and is one of the newest online betting platforms in the industry. They also feature something called PointsBetting that no one else offers. In addition to PointsBetting, the Australian-based betting platform also offers custom bets that they call “Name a Bet.”
Since arriving in the US at the beginning of 2019, PointsBet has aggressively partnered with multiple sports leagues and teams and is one of the fastest-growing platforms on the market.
A joint venture by FOX Sports and Flutter Entertainment, FOX Bet launched in May 2019 and is a rebranded version of BetStars. Similar to PointsBet, FOX Bet also features custom betting. They even use custom bets heard on-air by their FS1 talk-sports personalities.
William Hill Sportsbook
Founded in 1934 in London, the British sportsbook is known and respected worldwide. Since arriving stateside in 2012, they have continued to expand their presence in the US.
While William Hill app features your typical sports to wager on, they also offer a plethora of international betting options such as lotteries and politics, which most US-based sportsbooks do not feature.
SugarHouse is based out of Philadelphia, PA, which was founded in December 2018 and launched online in May 2019. Because of their partnership with Rush Street Interactive, the SugarHouse app offers legal sports betting to Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents. A unique feature to SugarHouse is their Jackpot parlays, which is a quick-pick lottery type of parlay builder.
In addition to sports betting, SugarHouse also has an online casino for bettors looking to expand beyond sports.
BetRivers betting app is a sister site of SugarHouse and is also based out of Pennsylvania. It was founded in December 2018 and expanded online in June 2019. They both offer similar promotions, rewards, and features.
BetRivers is expected to take over the naming rights to SugarHouse, however, despite SugarHouse being the original brand. Contrary to SugarHouse, BetRivers is legal in PA, IN, IL, MI, IA, CO, VA, and WV.
Unibet was founded in Malta in 1997 and is live in 100+ countries for sports betting, online poker, and their online casino. Unibet expanded to the US in 2019 thanks to their partnership with the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.
In addition to offering their customers US and international sports to bet on, Unibet offers horse racing and virtual sports as well.
bet365 is touted as one of the largest online sportsbooks in the world and has layers upon layers of active promotions through a wide variety of markets. Founded in the United Kingdom in 2000, bet365 came to the US in 2019.
In addition to what you normally find at the majority of online sportsbooks, bet365 also offers live streaming, live betting, and virtual sports betting.
888sport was launched in 2008 and is headquartered in Gibraltar. In 2013, 888sport became one of the first non-United States sportsbooks to feature their online platform in the US after they were granted licenses by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
In 2018, 888sport partnered with Caesars Atlantic City to provide New Jersey with an online sportsbook and casino.
WynnBet Sportsbook is a branch of Wynn Resorts. Founded in 2020 in Jersey City, NJ, WynnBet offers competitive odds and lines with a simple app interface. Bettors must place their bets on the app, however, as they do not offer a desktop version of their platform.
Because they are still growing, WynnBet does not have the greatest promotions. However, they do offer some of the most aggressive odds on the market.
How to Choose the Best US Online Sportsbook
Thanks to the internet, there are many sportsbooks that you can choose from. However, not every sportsbook may be right for you. Here are some things you should consider when choosing your ideal legal sportsbook in the United States:
What Do You Want Out of a Sportsbook?
If you are new to sports betting, you may not want to be overwhelmed. If this is you, then you may want to choose a sportsbook that is more simple and streamlined.
However, if you are experienced and want to bet on just about anything, then the more popular brands like DraftKings and FanDuel may be right for you.
What Sports Do You Want to Bet on?
Although all sportsbooks will feature the major sports to wager on such as NFL, NBA, and MLB, not all will carry cricket and snooker. If you want to wager on something more niche like entertainment or the Olympics, you will need to dig deep because only select books will feature those events.
Promotions and Rewards
If you know you are going to be an active and avid sports-better, then you will want to find a sportsbook that offers a healthy dose of promotions and rewards, as they’re basically free money. The more you play, the more you get.
Betting Options and Features
While most sportsbooks will carry your everyday wagers such as points spreads, totals, and moneylines, not all of them will feature parlays, teasers, and live betting. You also won’t find cashout and parlay building options everywhere, either.
Not all sportsbooks will feature the same deposit and withdrawal options. Some will only have credit, debit, and banking options in order to deposit, while others will have PayPal, Skrill, and ACH/eChecks.
There are even fewer withdrawal options. If you are picky about banking options, I would really dig deep here.
Desktop versus Mobile
You’d think that by now, most live online sportsbooks would feature both desktop and mobile applications. However, that is not the case by any means. While many have both, some do not. At WynnBet, for example, you can only place bets on the app.
Where Can I Place Bets In Person?
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
Sports You Can Bet On
In the United States, you can place bets on just about any sporting event worldwide. While not all states feature everything and some states do not allow wagering on the Olympics or collegiate sports that operate within their state lines, most allow the vast majority.
Two of the biggest reasons why professional sports leagues are forming these partnerships are expanded revenue and fan engagement. Now, major sports leagues are even selling off states to sportsbooks for content purposes.
Here are all of the sports you can legally place wagers on in the United States:
Since sports betting was legalized in the United States in 2018, it was only a matter of time until major sports markets followed suit and capitalized financially with partnerships, especially the NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys were the first NFL property to venture into sports betting, striking a deal with Oklahoma’s WinStar Casino. Since then, other organizations such as the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, and Las Vegas Raiders have also taken a dip in the sports betting pool.
In April 2021, the NFL announced its first partnerships in the sports betting market, inking deals with DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesers as official sports betting partners.
The NBA has been one of the most active professional sports leagues to venture into the sports betting arena. In July 2018, the NBA partnered with MGM Resorts International — the first partnership between a major US sports league and a bookmaker.
Since then, the NBA has developed numerous partnerships with sports betting properties such as FanDuel, The Stars Group, PointsBet, and DraftKings. Individual NBA teams that include the Philadelphia 76ers also have their own partnerships with bookmakers.
MLB is currently partnered with multiple sports betting properties. Similar to the NBA and NHL, MGM Resorts is an official partner of the league.
MLB also inked deals with FanDuel, DraftKings, and FOX Bet. Individual MLB teams that include the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs have also struck deals with sportsbooks.
The NHL has struck partnerships with multiple sportsbooks operators in the United States, starting with MGM Resorts in 2018. Since then, the NHL has struck deals with William Hill (which is also partnered with the New Jersey Devils), Bally’s, PointsBet, and FanDuel.
Even the PGA is involved in sports betting. Today, the PGA Tour has multiple sports betting partners that include BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, and PointsBet.
Other available sports to bet on include:
- Soccer (MLS & International)
- Motor Sports (NASCAR & Formula 1)
- Table Tennis
- Aussie Rules
- Rugby League
- Rugby Union
Are There Any Online Betting Restrictions in the US?
In the United States, Online Sports Betting is governed and regulated by each individual state. Therefore, there are no federal restrictions.
However, here are some examples of restrictions that you may find in an individual state:
- In Virginia and many other states in which sports betting is legal, you can not bet on Virginia-based college teams. Placing wagers on high school sports is also prohibited, which is the norm everywhere.
- In Arkansas, you can only place wagers on sports at retail locations, not online.
- In Iowa, you can not place Prop Bets on in-state college athletics.
- In Illinois, you can not place wagers on minor league teams or in-state college athletics.
- In some states, you must be 18 years old to bet while in others, you must be 21.
Bet Types Available
- Moneyline: A Moneyline bet is a wager in its simplest form. Also classified as a straight bet, you are betting on one team (side) or another to win.
- Point Spread: A Point Spread bet is the margin of victory when wagering Against the Spread (ATS). You are betting on the margin of victory between two sides.For example, if the Cowboys are favored to beat the Giants by (-3.5) points, but you think the Giants will win outright, you would place your money on the side of the Giants getting (+3.5) points. If the Cowboys win by any margin less than 3.5 points or the Giants win outright, then you would win the bet.
- Totals: A totals bet is another one of the elementary forms of sports betting. Also classified as an Over/Under wager, you will place your money on the side (Over or Under) of the total points scored.For example, if the Cowboys versus Giants game has a total of 49 points scored and you think the total will fall at 47, then you would place your wager on the Under.
- Props: A Prop bet can pertain to individual players or teams. For example, Alvin Kamara’s touchdown total of (1.5). If you think Kamara will score two times, then you would place your wager on the Over.For team props, if you think the Saints will score a safety, you can place your wager on Yes. If you don’t, then you are putting your money on no.
- Live Betting: You can place wagers while a game or an event is happening. While the lines are ever-changing according to the flow of the game, you can place your wager at the right time to get the best odds to fit the outcome that you think will occur at the end.
- Futures: A Futures wager can pertain to player or team totals at the end of a season. For example, a futures wager can be on the Super Bowl winner any time in the offseason. It can also be on NFL MVP or Rookie of the Year awards.You can also find futures on team win totals, in or out of the playoffs, and pretty much anything that has an outcome depending on the sportsbook that you use.
- Parlays: A Parlay bet is a wager with multiple legs. You must hit all legs of the Parlay in order to win the bet. While a Parlay is much more difficult to hit compared to a standard bet, the odds and return are drastically better than the norm.For example, you can take the Cowboys to win and parlay that with the Bears and the Saints to win. If all three teams win, you win the Parlay bet and will likely have a tremendous payout, especially if one of the winning teams was an underdog.
- Teasers: A Teaser is similar to a Parlay bet. A Teaser is a wager with multiple legs and all parts of the bet must hit in order for you to cash. In a Teaser bet, you can use combinations of the Point Spread and the Total.A Teaser differs from a traditional Parlay because in a Teaser, the user can shift the odds of the bet by essentially buying anywhere between 4-10 points — depending on the sport. However, because the adjusted lines make the wager easier to hit, the odds are much lower than your traditional Parlay.
- Points Betting: Points Betting is a type of wagering found exclusively at PointsBet. With Points Betting, your winnings and losses remain undetermined until the end of the game.The more you are right, the more you can win. However, the more you are wrong, the more you can lose. While you don’t know how much you can win or lose, you will know your potential max win and potential max loss at the time you place the Points Betting wager.
- Round Robin: A Round Robin bet allows you to make several Parlay Bets with one wager. This type of bet allows you to place all combinations of outcomes on your bet slip in a timely manner.In a three-team Round Robin, you will win your bet if two out of the three teams win, contrary to a traditional Parlay in which you will need all legs of the Parlay to win in order to cash.
Payment Options for US Bettors
Here are the most common deposit and withdrawal methods available in the United States:
- Credit Card (AMEX, VISA, MasterCard, Discover)
- Debit Card
- Money Order
- Google Pay
- PayNearMe (CVS, Family Dollar, 7-Eleven)
- Wire Transfer
- Online Banking
- Cash at the Casino Cage
- Play+ Prepaid Card
- Individual Sportsbook/Casino Cards
- Wire Transfer
- Cash at the Casino Cage
- Play+ Prepaid Card
- Individual Sportsbook/ Casino Cards
- Money Order
- Couriered Check
US Online Betting Sports Betting Timeline
- 1992: The United States Congress passes the PASPA Act (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) which bans single-game sports betting in the country.
- 2011: The state of New Jersey passes legalized sports betting at state racetracks and casinos in Atlantic City.
- 2012: The NCAA, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL sue NJ to cease sports betting.
- February 2013: A judge in the US District Court for NJ grants an injunction to keep the state from having legalized sports betting.
- September 2013: NJ appeals the state’s February ruling to the Third Circuit but loses again.
- September 2014: NJ alters its sports betting laws based on direction from the Third Circuit.
- October 2014: The NCAA and pro sports leagues immediately file with federal courts to block NJ sports betting again,
- November 2014: NJ loses in district court.
- November 2015: NJ loses for the second time at the Third Circuit.
- August 2016: NJ loses for a third time at the federal appeals level.
- June 2017: The Supreme Court hears NJ’s case.
- December 2017: The Supreme Court hears NJ Governor Chris Christie versus the NCAA.
- May 2018: NJ wins as the Supreme Court rules in favor of NJ sports betting and against PASPA.
- June 2018: Delaware becomes the first state outside of Nevada to legalize single-game wagers.
- June 2018: New Jersey passes its latest sports betting law and the first NJ sports wager is taken at Monmouth Park and at the Borgata Casino in New Jersey.
- June 2018: Rhode Island and West Virginia legalize sports betting
- August 2018: Via DraftKings, the first sports bet outside Nevada is taken in New Jersey..
- August 2018: Mississippi legalizes sports betting.
- October 2018: New Mexico legalizes sports betting.
- November 2018: Pennsylvania and Arkansas legalize sports betting.
- January 2019: Washington D.C. approves legalized sports betting, but it does not go live until the spring.
- May 2019: Montana, Indiana, and Iowa legalize sports betting.
- July 2019: Arkansas and New York take their first sports bets.
- August 2019: Oregon accepts its first sports betting wager.
- December 2019: New Hampshire accepts its first sports bet.
- March 2020: Sports wagering arrives in Illinois, Michigan, and Montana.
- May 2020: Colorado launches legal sports wagering.
- June 2020: Washington D.C. launches legal sports betting.
- November 2020: Sports betting is legalized in Tennessee.
- January 2021: Virginia takes its first legal sports bet after passing the bill in April 2020.
- March 2021: Sports betting is legalized in North Carolina and Washington.
- April 2021: Arizona legalizes sports betting and Wyoming legalizes online sports betting.
- May 2021: Nebraska legalizes sports betting.
- June 2021: Louisiana signs sports betting into law.
Future of Sports Betting in the US
Since sports betting was legalized in 2018, it has taken off and is now legal in nearly half of US states. However, not all states are buying in as rapidly as others. There are currently 21 states — 22 if we include Washington D.C. — that have legalized sports betting in some form (retail, mobile, or both).
While sports betting still has a ways to go to become fully embraced by the vast majority of the United States, several more states are currently in the process of legalizing it:
- South Dakota
The aforementioned list of states all have passed bills to legalize sports wagering in some form, but it is not yet operational there.
The following states have presented bills, but they have yet to be passed or voted on:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
The following states have not introduced a recent bill:
Many states have the wheels in motion to pass a bill to allow sports betting in some manner. However, not all states are likely to present or pass a bill at all.
Currently, there are four states that are stagnant. Idaho and Wisconsin have yet to publicly announce bills to legalize sports betting, whereas Utah and Hawaii are the only two states in the country that prohibit all forms of gambling.