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 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, and by Q1 2019, there were already 8 states offering single-game wagering of the sort you’d find in Sin City (with betting legal but not yet commercially available in 3 additional states, plus Washington, D.C.). And that’s big, because – thanks to PASPA – many state economies were placed squarely behind the 8-ball. Just 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. Nine US states currently offer full-service sports betting, and they are listed as follows:

Nevada – 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 – 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 – 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.

Delaware – 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 - 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 – 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.

Pennsylvania – 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. The current law does not allow online sports wagering, though state legislators are working hard to introduce new measures to allow this. Current revenue numbers for PA sportsbooks are not available (or too limited to be useful) at this time.

Rhode Island - 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.

Arkansas – You can wager on sports in Arkansas, with two racino venues – Southland Gaming & Racing in West Memphis and Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs – being the first to host on-site, physical sportsbooks in the state. These are the only AR venues that are currently licensed to offer sports wagering services to the public, though more Arkansas facilities could offer sports wagering in the future. Online sports betting is also legal in the state, though this has yet to roll out. Arkansas voters approved sports wagering in November 2018 via statewide referendum.

States Where Sports Betting Is Legal But Currently Unavailable

In addition to the above, there are currently two US states (plus Washington, D.C.) where sports betting is nominally legal but is effectively on hold pending the passage of further regulatory legislation. Each of these three states is expected to offer online-based sports wagering upon launch, though if history is any indication, that aspect may take a bit longer to roll out.

New York – Sports betting has technically been “legal” in New York since a 2013 referendum was held and voters chose to expand NY gaming with the construction of four upstate casino venues. However, New York’s sports wagering legalization was then pending the PASPA overturn. In the time since, NY legislators have delayed launching sportsbooks in the state as they hammer out various regulatory and oversight frameworks. New York is expected to open its first sports betting lounges and online sportsbooks before the end of 2019.

Connecticut – 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.

Washington, D.C. – 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.

States That Will Legalize Sports Betting In The Near Future

There are 24 states that are currently debating sports betting legalization at the congressional level. Many states have more support for the initiative than others, and the parties are split geographically. 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 have the best chance to pass in 2019 are those that have wide bipartisan support.

The states with the most bipartisan support are currently Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire (which is in the middle of a potentially important lawsuit with the federal government over the application of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961), Virginia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Certainly, not all of the two dozen states considering sports betting legalization will actually pass the activity into law this session, but it’s expected that 8-12 of them will.

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. 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.