Online Sports Betting in USA

Online Sports Betting in USA: Which States Are Legal?

US Legal Online Sports Betting Guide

Ah, the world of sports betting: a landscape forever changed by the dawn of the internet. Now, the touch of your fingertips can usher you into a virtual arena of odds, stakes, and potential big wins. But here’s the hitch—while online sports betting has swept the nation, it’s not universally legal in all states.

Before you dive into this intricate world, it’s essential to understand which states have given the green light to online sports betting and how this landscape has evolved. If you’re curious about the legality of online sports betting in the United States, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll take you on a comprehensive tour of the states that have lifted the ban and rolled out the red carpet for digital sportsbooks.

The Rise of Betting on Sports in the United States

In recent years, the landscape of sports betting online in the United States has significantly transformed, providing plenty of opportunities for sports enthusiasts to engage in legal wagering activities. Here, we’ll delve into the specifics of online gambling, exploring which states have given the green light to such digital pursuits.

As of today, 26 states, along with the District of Columbia, have enacted laws to legalize sports betting. The historical turning point was on May 14, 2018, when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), paving the way for states to establish their own sports betting regulations. Since then, the growth has been remarkable.

Leading the pack is Nevada, home to Las Vegas – the epitome of gambling culture – which has had legalized sports betting for decades. New Jersey, the state that led the legal battle against the federal ban, officially permitted sports betting in June 2018 and has since become a major player in the industry. Other notable states with legalized online sports gambling include Pennsylvania, Indiana, Colorado, and Illinois, each opening their doors to digital wagering in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

According to the American Gaming Association, legal sportsbooks took in over $20 billion in wagers in 2020, nearly double the $13 billion wagered in 2019. This growth is projected to continue, with more states eyeing the potential tax revenue from this lucrative industry.

Despite this rapid expansion, it’s crucial to remember that regulations vary from state to state, with some allowing only in-person betting while others permit mobile and online wagering. Prospective bettors should always familiarize themselves with the specific laws in their state.

The world of online sports betting in the USA is a dynamic landscape, continually evolving as more states embrace this form of entertainment. As we go forward, the key will be to monitor the shifting regulations and seize the opportunities they present.

US States with Legal Online Sports Betting

States with Legal Online Sports Betting

Here’s a quick glance at the states where you can legally partake in legal US online sports betting:

StateDate LegalizedRegulatory EntityNotable Facts
West VirginiaAugust 2018WV Lottery CommissionFirst mobile betting app in 2018
IllinoisJune 2020IL Gaming BoardRequires in-person registration
ColoradoMay 2020CO Division of GamingOver 20 online operators
IndianaSeptember 2019IN Gaming CommissionOver $200M monthly sports wagers
IowaAugust 2019IA Racing & Gaming Comm.Age 21 and older
Rhode IslandSeptember 2019RI LotteryLimited to two operators
PennsylvaniaNovember 2018PA Gaming Control BoardSecond largest market by handle
New HampshireJuly 2019NH Lottery CommissionSole operator agreement with DraftKings
ArkansasJuly 2019AR Racing CommissionLimited to in-person betting initially
LouisianaApril 2021LA Gaming Control BoardA parish-by-parish decision to legalize
ConnecticutMay 2021CT Department of ConsumerTribal and lottery-run online sportsbooks
KansasApril 2021KS Racing and Gaming Comm.Limited to five operators
ArizonaSeptember 2021AZ Department of GamingPartnerships with tribal casinos
North CarolinaMarch 2019NC Education LotteryCurrently limited to tribal casinos
South DakotaNovember 2020SD Commission on GamingLimited to in-person betting in Deadwood
OklahomaJune 2021OK Indian Gaming Assoc.Tribal-run online sportsbooks
WisconsinOctober 2021WI Division of GamingTribal exclusivity agreement

Remember, the regulatory landscape is ever-changing, so it’s crucial to keep abreast of updates. This table should give you a solid foundation for understanding where each state stands on legal online sports betting as of now. Always consult your state’s regulatory body for the most current information and regulations.

The Rise, Fall, and Resurgence of US Online Sports Betting

It was a cold winter day in December 2011 when the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a legal opinion that would soon set the stage for a monumental shift in the American sports betting landscape. The interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act, a law initially designed to combat organized crime by outlawing certain types of betting transactions over telephone lines, was narrowed to only apply to sports betting. This seemingly subtle revision ignited a long chain of events that have shaped the trajectory of online sports betting in the United States.

Early Inceptions: The Origins of Sports Betting

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of online sports betting, let’s backtrack to its historical roots. Betting on sports isn’t new; it has been around since ancient times. The Greeks bet on the Olympics, the Romans bet on chariot races, and in early America, betting was prevalent in horse racing. But it wasn’t until the 20th century that sports betting started to get formalized, with the establishment of Las Vegas as a betting hub in the 1930s. Yet, due to societal concerns around addiction and criminal activity, most states remained hesitant to legalize sports gambling, opting to limit it to “Sin City” and a few other locales.

The Wire Act and PASPA

Even as gambling became part and parcel of American culture, it was a realm fraught with legal hurdles. In 1961, President Kennedy signed the Wire Act into law, making it illegal to place bets “using a wire communication facility.” Then came the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, which prohibited states from regulating or taxing sports betting. These laws had a profound impact on the industry, driving much of it underground. According to a 1999 Congressional Research Service report, illegal sports wagering had reached an estimated $80 billion to $380 billion annually.

The 2011 DOJ Opinion and the Repeal of PASPA

The 2011 Department of Justice opinion was revolutionary because it opened the door for states to consider legalizing online gambling forms other than sports betting. This legal clarification resulted in a chain of events that led to a monumental decision on May 14, 2018. The Supreme Court of the United States struck down PASPA, effectively giving states the authority to regulate sports betting as they saw fit.

The Current Landscape: A State-by-State Affair

Since the repeal of PASPA, the floodgates have opened. As of August 2021, 32 states and Washington D.C. have legalized some form of sports betting, with 24 of them allowing online or mobile betting. According to a 2021 report from the American Gaming Association, approximately $21.5 billion was wagered legally on sports in 2020, generating around $1.5 billion in revenue for operators and roughly $189 million in tax revenue for states.

States like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have seen unprecedented growth in their sports betting markets, with New Jersey’s sportsbooks taking in $6 billion in bets in 2020 alone. Interestingly, states are adopting varying models for regulation and taxation. For instance, Nevada requires in-person registration at a land-based casino for online betting, while Tennessee has gone the opposite direction, offering online-only sports betting with no requirement for a brick-and-mortar presence.

The Challenges: Regulatory Concerns and Ethical Dilemmas

Despite the rapid growth and potential economic benefits, the path ahead is fraught with challenges. Regulatory discrepancies between states create complexities for operators. There’s also the ethical dilemma surrounding gambling addiction and the societal costs associated with it. Critics argue that easy access to online sports betting may exacerbate problem gambling, a concern backed by research. A study from the National Council on Problem Gambling found that the prevalence of problem gambling doubles within 50 miles of a gambling facility.

The Future: Technology and Innovations

Advancements in technology are fueling the next wave of sports betting. Live in-play betting, augmented reality, and even blockchain for enhanced security are some of the trends on the horizon. According to Zion Market Research, the global sports betting market is expected to reach $155.49 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 8.83% between 2018 and 2024.

The narrative of online sports betting in the United States is like a high-stakes game itself, marked by victories, defeats, and constant change. The industry has evolved from being an underground operation to a legitimate multi-billion-dollar market. Yet, the road ahead is anything but certain. As states grapple with regulatory and ethical questions, and as technology continually shifts the goalposts, one thing is clear: the story of online sports betting in America is far from over.

It remains to be seen how the industry will navigate future challenges, but for now, all eyes are on the United States as it undertakes this complex and potentially lucrative experiment.

Recap of the Regulatory Landscape

Firstly, the 2018 Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. NCAA was pivotal; it essentially gave states the power to legalize sports betting. Imagine this legal ruling as the falling domino that set a chain reaction into motion. States like New Jersey and Pennsylvania wasted no time in passing laws to allow sports betting, both in physical locations and online. As of today, 27 states have opened their doors to online sportsbooks. Each state comes with its own set of regulations, administered by different governing bodies, and with different implications for operators and bettors alike.

VIDEO: Why We Can Bet on Sports:

The Players Behind the Regulation

Regulation doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it’s the product of robust debates, legislation, and public opinions. In most states, the primary regulatory body is often the Lottery Commission or the Gaming Board. In West Virginia, for instance, it’s the West Virginia Lottery Commission that oversees sports betting. In Illinois, the Illinois Gaming Board takes charge. These regulatory bodies set the guidelines for who can bet (usually age 21 or older), where they can bet, and what kinds of sports they can bet on.

State Profiles

As of 2023, online sports betting is a rapidly changing landscape in the United States. Regulations vary from state to state, with each having its own specific regulatory body overseeing the activity. Here’s an overview of some of the key regulators for online sports betting in the US:

  • New Jersey: The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement regulates online sports betting in the state.
  • Nevada: The Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission oversee all forms of gambling in Nevada, including online sports betting.
  • Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is responsible for regulating sports betting in the state.
  • Indiana: The Indiana Gaming Commission oversees online sports betting in Indiana.
  • West Virginia: The West Virginia Lottery Commission regulates online sports betting in the state.
  • Iowa: The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission oversees online sports betting in Iowa.
  • Oregon: The Oregon Lottery Commission regulates online sports betting in the state.
  • Rhode Island: The Rhode Island Lottery oversees online sports betting in the state.
  • Kentucky: As per recent developments, Kentucky has voted to legalize online sports betting, with the first betting sites expected to go live by the end of 2023.
  • Louisiana: Sports betting is legal in Louisiana, with the Louisiana Gaming Control Board as the regulator.
  • New Hampshire: The New Hampshire Lottery Commission regulates online sports betting in the state.
  • Illinois: The Illinois Gaming Board oversees online sports betting in Illinois.
  • Michigan: The Michigan Gaming Control Board is responsible for regulating online sports betting in the state.
  • Colorado: The Colorado Division of Gaming oversees online sports betting in Colorado.
  • Tennessee: The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation regulates online sports betting in the state.
  • Virginia: The Virginia Lottery oversees online sports betting in Virginia.
  • Arizona: The Arizona Department of Gaming regulates online sports betting in the state.
  • Maryland: The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency is responsible for regulating online sports betting in the state.
  • Wyoming: The Wyoming Gaming Commission oversees online sports betting in Wyoming.
  • South Dakota: The South Dakota Commission on Gaming regulates online sports betting in the state10.

Here’s a closer look into states’ online betting legality status that’s more detailed:

New Jersey Online Sports Betting

Ah, New Jersey—where the skyline of Manhattan meets the echoes of Bruce Springsteen. The Garden State is often considered the Mecca of online sports betting in the United States. It was legalized in June 2018, following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn the federal ban on sports betting. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement regulates the market.

What sets New Jersey apart? Well, first off, it’s a hub of activity with a plethora of online operators. The state offers a full suite of betting options, including online casinos, poker, and sports betting, which creates a holistic gambling environment. New Jersey is also one of the few states that allow betting on collegiate events, as long as they don’t involve New Jersey teams or take place within the state. With monthly sports wagers often exceeding a whopping $1 billion, the state sets the gold standard for the industry.

Michigan Online Sports Betting

Michigan, the Great Lakes State, known for its automotive history and vibrant music scene, has also entered the online sports betting race. Legalized in December 2019, the Michigan Gaming Control Board is the watchdog, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Michigan offers a rich blend of online gambling options, including sportsbooks, poker, and casinos. Unique to Michigan is its symbiotic relationship between tribal and commercial casinos, making it an inclusive market that respects both local businesses and national franchises.

Iowa Online Sports Betting

From its fertile farmlands to the bustling city of Des Moines, Iowa presents a diverse backdrop for online sports betting. Legalized in May 2019, it’s under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. The Hawkeye State has a unique feature: while initial registration for sports betting accounts had to be made in person, that requirement was lifted in 2021. Now, bettors can register, deposit, and bet—all without stepping foot in a casino.

Iowa is also unique in that it imposes a collegiate betting restriction. While you can bet on college sports, proposition bets on individual collegiate athletes are not allowed. This nuanced approach reflects a balanced view, aiming to encourage betting while maintaining the integrity of collegiate sports.

Rhode Island Online Sports Betting

Rhode Island, affectionately known as the Ocean State, is no small fry in the sports betting arena despite its size. The state legalized sports betting in September 2019 and chose to limit the market to two operators. The Rhode Island Lottery regulates this sector, overseeing a market that, while smaller in volume, plays a big role in the state’s revenue. What’s unique? The restriction to two operators places the focus on quality over quantity.

Pennsylvania Online Sports Betting

Imagine the Liberty Bell ringing in sync with the chants of Eagles fans—that’s Pennsylvania for you. Since November 2018, when the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board gave online sports betting the nod, it has been a significant player. It has the second-largest sports betting market in the U.S. in terms of handle, making it a heavyweight in this sector. With a wide array of betting options, it’s a hub for seasoned bettors and newcomers alike.

New Hampshire Online Sports Betting

New Hampshire’s landscape, rich in idyllic lakes and mountains, mirrored a swift and focused approach to legalizing online sports betting. The Granite State legalized it in July 2019, governed by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. Intriguingly, the state has an exclusive agreement with DraftKings, creating a monopoly for the operator. While controversial, this strategy allows the state to better control its sports betting environment.

Arkansas Online Sports Betting

From the Ozark Mountains to the Mississippi River, Arkansas is as varied in its geography as it is in its approach to online sports betting. Legal since July 2019, it started with an initial focus on in-person betting. The Arkansas Racing Commission governs this arena, working on potential expansions to include more online options. Still a fledgling market, Arkansas’s sports betting landscape has room to grow.

Louisiana Online Sports Betting

Louisiana, with its soulful jazz and exquisite Creole cuisine, made a unique move by legalizing sports betting on a parish-by-parish basis in April 2021. This decentralized approach, overseen by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, allows communities to dictate whether they want to participate in this betting environment or not. That’s democracy in action, y’all!

North Carolina Online Sports Betting

North Carolina, with its Blue Ridge Mountains and coastal plains, currently limits sports betting to tribal casinos as of its legalization in March 2019. Governed by the North Carolina Education Lottery, the scope here is narrower than in other states. However, discussions to widen this spectrum are on the horizon.

Oklahoma Online Sports Betting

In Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, online sports betting is exclusively run by tribal casinos. Legalized in June 2021, it’s overseen by the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. Although still a nascent market, the future looks promising with potential expansions in the pipeline.

Wisconsin Online Sports Betting

Wisconsin, famous for its cheese and Packers, entered the sports betting arena in October 2021 with a tribal exclusivity agreement. The Wisconsin Division of Gaming is the regulating authority here. It’s early days, but Wisconsin is a state to watch for future developments in sports betting.

West Virginia Online Sports Betting

Picture the lush Appalachian Mountains—a perfect setting for West Virginia’s pioneering foray into the world of online sports betting. In August 2018, the state became one of the first to allow online sports wagering, overseen by the West Virginia Lottery Commission. Notably, West Virginia was the first state to launch a mobile betting app. Monthly sports wagers have been consistently high, offering an increasingly stable market for online sportsbook operators.

Illinois Online Sports Betting

Ah, the Windy City and its vibrant sports culture—baseball, basketball, you name it. Illinois legalized online sports betting in June 2020. However, one caveat is the in-person registration requirement, which means that you must initially visit a physical location to register for an online sportsbook. This rule has been temporarily lifted due to the pandemic but may return in the future. The Illinois Gaming Board is the regulatory body that ensures fair play and responsible gaming.

Colorado Online Sports Betting

In Colorado, the scenic vistas and adventurous spirit carry into its welcoming approach to online sports betting. Legalized in May 2020, the state has allowed over 20 online operators to set up shop. What’s fascinating about Colorado is its open-mindedness toward unconventional sports betting markets like esports. Overseen by the Colorado Division of Gaming, the market shows promising growth with a rich variety of options for bettors.

Connecticut Online Sports Betting

Connecticut is known for its picturesque countryside, brimming with rolling hills and small-town charm. The state legalized online sports betting in May 2021. Regulation falls under the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. Unique to Connecticut is its collaboration between tribal and state-run online sportsbooks. This setup provides a balanced environment, appealing to both local and tribal interests.

Indiana Online Sports Betting

Imagine the roar of the Indianapolis 500 engines—the same excitement courses through Indiana’s online sports betting landscape. Legalized in September 2019 and regulated by the Indiana Gaming Commission, the state has seen over $200 million in monthly sports wagers. From basketball to auto racing, Indiana offers a robust market for sports betting enthusiasts.

Rhode Island Online Sports Betting

Rhode Island, the Ocean State, legalized sports betting in late 2018. The Rhode Island Lottery oversees all operations and, interestingly, all bets must go through the state, effectively making it a monopoly. With only two casinos operating as sportsbooks, the market isn’t as saturated as in other states, but it allows for close regulation.

Louisiana Online Sports Betting

Jazz, jambalaya, and now, sports betting! Louisiana came onboard in April 2021, with the Louisiana Gaming Control Board taking the regulatory helm. Unlike any other state, Louisiana has a parish-by-parish approval system. This granularity in local governance sets it apart in how it allows communities to decide their stance on sports betting.

South Dakota Online Sports Betting

Mount Rushmore might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of South Dakota, but sports betting has also carved out its place. Legalized in November 2020, sports betting in South Dakota is confined to the city of Deadwood and overseen by the South Dakota Commission on Gaming. While this may limit accessibility, it also makes for easier regulation.

New Hampshire Online Sports Betting

New Hampshire, renowned for its majestic lakes and mountains, took a unique approach when it legalized online sports betting in July 2019. The market is regulated by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, which has an exclusive agreement with DraftKings. This monopoly has sparked some debate, but it’s a strategy that allows New Hampshire to keep close tabs on sports betting activities.

Kansas Online Sports Betting

Ah, the plains of Kansas! Sports betting became legal in this Midwest state in April 2021. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission oversees the market. Unlike some states, Kansas has capped the number of sportsbook licenses, aiming to create a balanced market that’s easy to regulate.

Arizona Online Sports Betting

The Grand Canyon State, Arizona, leapt into the online sports betting scene in September 2021. The Arizona Department of Gaming is the body responsible for oversight. What sets Arizona apart is its approach to tribal partnerships; it allows tribal casinos to offer sports betting services. This gives the state a rich mix of traditional and modern betting environments.

North Carolina Online Sports Betting

North Carolina, a state known for its Smoky Mountains and vibrant arts scene, took a more conservative approach to sports betting. Legalized in March 2019, the market is currently confined to tribal casinos. The North Carolina Education Lottery oversees this limited scope, and while the market is not as expansive as other states, it’s a start.

South Dakota Online Sports Betting

When you think of South Dakota, the iconic Mount Rushmore likely comes to mind. The state legalized sports betting in November 2020 but has confined it to in-person bets in Deadwood. The South Dakota Commission on Gaming regulates this. South Dakota’s approach is a bit unique in the U.S., as there is currently no statewide mobile betting.

Oklahoma Online Sports Betting

From the panhandle to the Ozarks, Oklahoma has a rich cultural tapestry. It entered the sports betting arena in June 2021, opting for tribal-run online sportsbooks overseen by the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. While a nascent market, the state is rich in tribal culture, which has the potential to shape its sports betting landscape uniquely.

Wisconsin Online Sports Betting

Last but not least, we have Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland, known for its Packers and cheese. Wisconsin introduced legal sports betting in October 2021 with an exclusivity agreement for tribal casinos. The Wisconsin Division of Gaming is the regulatory body. As a newcomer to the game, it will be interesting to see how Wisconsin’s landscape evolves.

California Online Sports Betting

Ah, California—known for its Hollywood glamour, tech innovation in Silicon Valley, and the scenic beauty of its coastlines. But as of my last update in September 2021, it’s a state where online sports betting has not yet received legal approval. Despite this, it’s a hot topic of discussion, drawing interest from tribal casinos and lawmakers alike.

The status of sports betting in California is a complex web of tribal interests, legislative efforts, and public opinion. Tribal casinos have been particularly vocal, seeking to ensure that they maintain control over the industry if it becomes legalized. Various bills have been floated in the state legislature, but none have yet navigated the treacherous waters of California politics successfully.

Given the sheer size of the state and its sports-loving populace, any change in California’s betting laws would undoubtedly have a seismic impact on the entire U.S. market.

What to Watch for in the Future

Looking forward, keep your eyes peeled for legislative changes that could either expand or contract the online sports betting market. States like California and Florida are debating legalization, which could create seismic shifts in the industry.

So, there you have it—a panoramic view of the world of online sports betting in the USA, painted with the strokes of legality and regulation. Whether you’re in the Appalachian charm of West Virginia or the bustling streets of Chicago, you now know where you stand—or sit, comfortably betting from your couch—in the world of online sports betting.

Disclaimer: Always remember to bet responsibly and consult your state’s regulatory body for the most current laws and regulations.

Whether you’re a seasoned bettor or a rookie looking to get in on the action, knowing your playing field is vital. And for those considering free social gaming as an alternative, check out our guides to fully grasp the breadth of options available.