US States With Legal Sports Betting
Now that state sports betting restrictions have been lifted at the federal level, the race is on for states to roll out their individual visions of what sports betting should be within their borders. Previously, the US states with legal sports betting were limited by federal law – namely the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, 1992) – to four, with Nevada being the sole destination for full-service (aka “single-game” or “Vegas-style”) sports betting. Delaware, Montana, and Oregon were also minimally exempt from the law, but they were limited to a sports-themed lottery- and bingo-style amusements, which were relatively unpopular and mostly short-lived.
Now, the number of states with legal sports betting has risen sharply in the time since PASPA’s overturn. There are already several states offering single-game wagering of the sort you would have only found in Sin City. Thanks to PASPA, many state economies were placed squarely behind the 8-ball but consider the numbers involved and you’ll understand how abjectly disastrous PASPA was – and why the future is so bright!
In the simplest terms, US sports bettors are estimated to wager astronomical amounts of money each year, with plausible research pegging the annual American sports betting handle at $300-$400 billion. Without a system in place to tax sportsbook revenue, the dramatic majority of that action went (and continues to go) untaxed. In the quarter-century that PASPA was in effect, the US state and federal governments have lost – by multiple reliable accounts – more than a trillion dollars. That’s “trillion,” with a “t”! Thankfully, with states now able to engineer their own rules and regulations regarding sports betting, something can start to be done about that massive shortfall.
How The Supreme Court Ruling Affects US Sports Betting
In May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, opening the door for all US states to legalize and regulate their own sports betting industries. Many states have already taken the initiative to do just that, though the majority is taking a slower, more cautious approach. Even though PASPA is finally stricken from the law books, sports betting legalization requires a lot more than simply flipping a switch.
Nevertheless, the task is an achievable one in most cases, and the states are doing their due diligence on the matter. It is estimated that within 3-5 years, upwards of 35 to 40 states will have active sports wagering industries available at land-based venues and over the Internet (plus, in many cases, at lottery ticket vendors, racetracks, and even OTB locations).
While this new sports betting movement will not reclaim all the overseas and black-market action that’s been thriving over the decades, there is ample opportunity for states to eat into the overseas sports wagering market and divert those funds back to US soil. In terms of local economic impact, this is huge, and while it will take time to convince many satisfied offshore bettors to bring their money back home, there is no doubt that many millions of US gamblers will do exactly that.
States With Legalized Sports Betting
If you’re looking for a brick-and-mortar sports betting experience right now, you no longer have to hoof it through the desert to Las Vegas. The number of US states currently offer full-service sports betting is up to 11:
Nevada was, of course, the only game in town for decades. With sports wagering formally legalized way back in 1949, NV is still considered the number-one place to bet on all the biggest games and sporting events. Las Vegas alone boasts over 50 sportsbooks, and online gaming is available statewide from a selection of world-famous bookmakers. Nevada sportsbooks took in over $5 billion in wagers and earned over $300 million in revenue in 2018.
New Jersey is the reason PASPA was overturned, and their perseverance in the 6-year legal challenge has already paid off in spades. Or rather, in sports betting revenue. (Card-based gambling was already legal in the state, after all). New Jersey has world-class sportsbooks in operation at every Atlantic City Venue, at The Meadowlands, and at Monmouth Park. Additionally, NJ residents can wager on sports over the Internet, which is legal statewide through locally-licensed operators. NJ sportsbooks have been performing well, with monthly projections of over $15 million in revenue.
West Virginia was quick to legalize sports betting, but the rollout was slow, and the state only recently legalized and launched online sports wagering. With only five brick-and-mortar venues where residents and visitors can wager in person, this online presence is considered key to the industry’s success and long-term growth. WV sportsbooks are projected to top $30 million in revenue next year.
As Delaware’s lottery oversaw the state’s Sports Pick product during the PASPA years, the lotto actually had all the authority it needed to expand that into full, single-game betting without the passage of any legislation. As a result, DE became the second state to offer sports wagering, which is available at its three racino venues. Internet-based sports betting is legal in DE, but the DE Lottery has yet to roll out any associated products. DE sportsbooks have been averaging a low $1.3 million in revenue per month, but this should jump by many times as soon as Internet wagering goes live.
Mississippi has the most operational sportsbooks outside of Nevada, but their reach is limited to major gambling destinations like Tunica, Biloxi, and Vicksburg. This is because there is nothing in the state’s sports betting legislation that allows it to offer statewide Internet/mobile wagering. Nevertheless, the casinos are doing well so far, with monthly well in excess of $3 million (and growing rapidly). Internet-based sports betting is not expected to be discussed by the MS Congress until 2020 or 2021 at the earliest.
New Mexico sports wagering is a unique phenomenon, at least in terms of how it was born. Instead of going through the state legislature, the Pueblo of Santa Ana (Tamaya) simply began offering the product at their Albuquerque-area Santa Ana Star venue. Because the state’s tribal compact did not exclude sports wagering from its general definition of Class III gaming, the tribe is offering the pastime at its brick-and-mortar location. That said, in order for Internet-based betting to go live, a new law will have to be passed, as such is currently explicitly prohibited. There are no reported revenue figures for sports betting in NM.
Rhode Island was the last of the “first wave” of states to offer legal sports betting in the US, and you can wager at either of Little Rhody’s two casino venues right now. Online sports wagering is not yet legal in the state, however, and the monthly revenue figures will reflect that until the legislature decides to move forward with a plan to roll out such a product. Right now, revenue figures show earnings of only about $80,000 a month, which dramatically undersells what the eager RI clientele are willing to spend on the popular activity.
Pennsylvania took a little longer than most expected to roll out sports betting to eager bettors in the state. However, since the activity went live in November 2018, it has been immensely popular. Online sports wagering was a late addition to the legal sports betting market, having launched in the last days of May 2019.
Approved through a November 2018 ballot initiative, sports betting in Arkansas became legal after the voters supported the measure. Both online and land-based sportsbooks are legal within the state, which launched on July 1, 2019. Oaklawn Racing became the first sportsbook in the state to open its doors and the Southland Casino wasn’t far behind. Two other licenses have been approved for Jefferson and Pope Counties, though the Arkansas Racing and Gaming Commission must approve which venue shall be fortunate enough to offer it.
Sports betting was technically legal in 2013 when voters approved a measure supporting the hobby in the four upstate commercial casinos. After PASPA was repealed, the state took a little over a year to set regulations and discuss the possibility of mobile sports betting. Though the latter was not approved, New York sports betting launched on July 16, when Rivers Casino Schenectady accepted the first wager. The addition of mobile betting will likely require another voter referendum, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
With 19 casinos in the state and the ability for each establishment to have two skins, a total of 38 sportsbooks could make their way to Iowa. The industry launched on August 15, 2019, and both in-person and mobile wagering is permitted, though mobile betting will require in-person registration until the start of 2021. Per regulations, betting on professional and collegiate teams is allowed; however, prop bets for collegiate athletes has been banned. The industry will be overseen by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which will collect the 6.75% tax on sports betting revenue as well as the $45,000 licensing fee.
States Where Sports Betting Is Legal But Currently Unavailable
In addition to the above, there are currently several US states (plus Washington, D.C.) where sports betting is nominally legal but is effectively on hold pending facility construction, passage of further regulatory legislation, or similar technical considerations. Some of these states are expected to offer online sports wagering upon the launch of their physical sportsbooks, though if history is any indication, the online aspect may take a bit longer to roll out.
Near the end of May, Tennessee became the fourth state in 2019 to authorize sports betting, but not like any other state we have seen. Tennessee does not have any casinos; therefore, they permitted a statewide online betting platform to be the industry standard, without the backing of any gambling facility. The bill also came into law in an interesting way. Instead of signing off for approval, Governor Bill Lee allowed his 10-day veto period to expire, ultimately turning the bill into law without his approval or veto. Sports betting is on track to launch by fall of 2019 and will be available to those aged 21 and up.
Connecticut legalized sports betting in 2017, pending PASPA’s overturn. The bill, HB 6948, opened the door to lawful in-state wagering, but it has taken close to two years – and counting – for the state to come to terms with the existing Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes’ gambling exclusivity rights and the commercial interests (MGM et al.) campaigning to open casinos in the state. Sports betting has been a contentious issue thus far between Connecticut and the state’s Native American tribes. It is unclear if issues will be resolved in time to guarantee a 2019 sports betting launch.
Shortly after Montana’s news hit the headlines, Indiana was approving their measures as well. Their casinos were given the opportunity to offer sports betting on location as well as through an online platform. With three mobile betting platforms, or skins, allotted to the 13 casinos each, there will be plenty of action occurring in Indiana. Wagering on both professional and collegiate games are allowed for any player 21 and older. The industry is expected to launch in the fall of 2019.
As one of the few states exempt from the oversight of PASPA, Oregon never took legal sports betting off of their books. Before PASPA was in effect, the state offered 3-team or more parlay cards for their residents but with threats from the professional and collegiate sports organization, they stopped offering the program. However, the Oregon Lottery is working towards launching an industry sometime in the near future. The outlet will be available both online and through lottery retailers, though the online version will be more accessible for all.
Set as a major gambling expansion, Illinois approved sports betting in late June 2019 when Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the measure into law. They will allow for nearly every gambling establishment (casinos, off-track betting parlors, the lottery, etc.) to offer sports betting. The bill granted both land-based and online approval for those who are 21 and older; however, for online access, bettors will need to visit a land-based retailer to sign up for an online account.
Governor Chris Sununu signed the NH sports betting bill into law in July 2019 but sports betting is not expected to launch in the state until the summer of 2020. With regulations still to bet set, the state will award anywhere up to 15 licenses to operators. Betting on in-state collegiate teams will be prohibited and there may also be restrictions set for live, in-play wagering. With five land-based and ten online licenses up for grabs, the state is expected to welcome the industry at full force next year.
While not a state, Washington, D.C., has effectively the same pseudo-sovereign status as the states in the US. As such, it has legalized sports betting within its borders thanks to a December 2018 City Council vote (11-2 in favor). There are no casinos in D.C., but sports betting is planned to be offered at venues like stadiums, restaurants, liquor stores, and via a mobile app geo-fenced within the city’s borders. The D.C. Lottery would oversee sports betting in the city, and analysts expect sports betting to be live by the end of 2019.
The first state to approve sports betting in 2019 was Montana. Though many states only have one operator in charge of the industry, Montana took a different approach and approved two sports betting bills. However, Governor Bullock only signed one of them into law, HB 725, which gives the power to the state lottery. Montana was an exempt state under PASPA during its reign; however, with the law no longer in effect, Montana was able to expand their sports betting laws, permitting 18-year-olds to wager on both professional and collegiate sports.
North Carolina took the entire 2019 legislative session to legalize sports betting in the state. Finalized and signed by the governor on July 2019, North Carolina sports betting allows both of the tribal casinos in the state to offer full-service sportsbooks. Along with sports wagering, this bill authorized the permission for the casinos to offer fixed horse racing odds as well. Both of the Harrah’s casinos in western North Carolina will be the only places where residents can wager legally.
States That Will Legalize Sports Betting In The Near Future
It is safe to say that about three-quarters of the states have entered into debates about sports betting legalization at the congressional level – some more seriously than others. In some regions, sports betting is championed largely by Democrat interests, while in others it seems squarely in the domain of Republican lawmakers. Naturally, the states where such initiatives had the best chance to pass in 2019 were those that had wide bipartisan support.
With major elections coming up in 2020, the outlook of each state’s senators and representatives is up in the air. Many interests of the current legislators will be brushed aside by the (potentially) new lawmakers who want to impose their power. However, from the actions of the legislative sessions of 2019, we can see which states took sports betting more seriously than others. You should expect to see another handful of states legalize the pastime in 2019 or 2020. The states where this might happen include Massachusetts, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Colorado, and Ohio. Certainly, not all of these states will pass sports betting laws before the end of the year or may not at all, but they are far more likely to do so than states like Hawaii, Utah, Idaho, Alaska, and Wyoming.
US States With Legal Offshore Sports Betting
All the above notwithstanding, it is important to note that, regardless of whether or not your state has legalized (or will legalize) sports wagering within its borders, you can already bet on sports legally, safely, and securely from anywhere in the country. That’s right – thank to the way US state and federal laws have been written, it is totally legal – and easy! – to use the Internet to place real-money wagers on just about any contest on the planet.
Residents of all 50 states can wager at offshore sportsbooks, with sites like Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, 5Dimes, BetDSI, and BookMaker being the best of the bunch. These sites have been taking US customers for close to three decades now, and nobody has ever been arrested, fined, or even hassled for using them. Payouts are quick, guaranteed, and simple to claim, and you can wager at all these books anytime, anyplace, by making use of their award-winning mobile platforms. (Note: Bovada is currently the only major book that doesn’t accept members from all 50 states. Right now, if you live in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, or Nevada, you cannot join Bovada.)
Signing up is always free, and you can join as many of these services as you wish. Best of all, no matter what sort of sportsbook your own state opens up, it probably won’t be able to compete with the sheer quantity and quality of your offshore options. These overseas books even support full mobile live betting on dozens of marquee matchups every day, and they all boast international racebooks and full casinos and card rooms, too!
Why Offshore Sportsbooks Are Legal To Use
If you’re skeptical, that’s understandable. Sports betting has been “illegal” in the US for so long that most folks simply take for granted that any solution has to be a sort of shady, gray-area thing. But rest assured, that’s absolutely not the case. In fact, it’s very simple to understand why offshore sportsbooks are legal to use.
For one thing, offshore books operate – as their designation implies – offshore. Because they’re based out of other countries, the US has no legal jurisdiction over their operations. And thanks to World Trade Organization agreements and binding legal precedents, as long as America doesn’t have an active trade embargo with another nation, US residents are free to enter into business contracts with them. Since US laws apply only to domestic companies, any gambling restriction is irrelevant as applied to these books.
However, there’s a bit more to it. Take the erstwhile federal PASPA ban. This law prevented domestic books from opening up outside of Nevada, but its restrictions were based on prohibiting operators of sportsbooks, not individual bettors. All of the existing state laws on the subject follow this model, banning operators and those engaged in the “business of bookmaking” or “advancing gambling”. They do not, however, criminalize bettors for gambling as they wish. Because offshore books are free to offer their services and US bettors are free to wager as they please, this voluntary transaction arrangement is perfectly legal and totally safe.
USAOnlineSportsbooks.com knows that no matter where you wager, you never have to worry about covering your butt. All you really need to worry about is whether or not your team will cover the spread.