US States With Legal Sports Betting

American citizens are now able to find more US states with legal sports betting than ever before. Throughout history, sports gambling has been a popular yet highly debated topic for lawmakers and gaming operators. It may have taken years of prodding, but the widespread regulation of single-game sports wagering is well on its way. Sports betting states are now able to capitalize on an entirely new source of revenue that helps benefit their local economies in various ways. For citizens, state-licensed sports gambling opens the door to increased wagering options. With government officials drafting sports betting bills on a regular basis, there is a high probability for all Americans that legal sports betting will be coming to a city or state nearby. Of course, it is also important to learn how the ability to bet online at offshore sportsbooks has been impacted by these legal sports betting states. Both topics will be addressed thoroughly, giving you a well-round picture of the legal environment for states in the US with legal sports betting.

Map Of Legal Sports Betting States


No Plans To Legalize Sports Betting Bills Introduced Full Scale Legal Sports Betting

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States With Legal Sports Betting Map
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States With Legal Sports Betting Map ( copy)

US States With Land-Based Sports Betting

There are currently eight US states with land-based sports betting, with the number growing every few months. These brick-and-mortar sportsbooks offer the type of full-service sports gambling that was once only possible in Nevada. The states with regulated sportsbooks include the following:

  • Delaware
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

Legal Sports Betting In Nevada – The Biggest Sports Betting State

It should come as no surprise legal sports betting in Nevada is a billion-dollar industry, considering that it is the original sports betting state. Nevada was exempt from the confines of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) due to legalizing sports wagering in the 1940s, which was prior to PASPA’s passage in 1992. The only restriction per Nevada sports betting laws was that sports bars could not become sportsbook licensees. State-licensed casinos and independent betting shops, however, are perfectly legal.

A unique feature of legal sports betting in Nevada is that you can actually use mobile betting apps. The casinos that own and operate sportsbooks have apps that allow you to place wagers and track your bet slips from your mobile device, giving you the ability to leave the casino and still get your bets in. These apps can only be used within the state of Nevada.

Most of Nevada’s sportsbooks are located in Las Vegas, Reno, and Henderson. While individual betting shops used to be very popular back in the ’50s and ’60s, they’ve all but gone out of business since the casinos and hotels took over the sports betting business. That being said, you’ll still be able to find small sportsbooks in cities scattered throughout the state.

Types Of Wagers Offered At Vegas Sportsbooks

Because of its full exemption from PASPA, Nevada sportsbooks are able to offer every type of wager they think will make money. Nevada sportsbooks will have everything from basic game lines like moneylines, spreads, and totals, to parlays, props, futures, specials, pleasers, teasers, if-bets, reverse if-bets, Asian Handicaps, and more. These sportsbooks bank on the fact that they are able to offer something that every other state is denied the right to, so you’ll definitely be able to find the wager types you’re looking for.

Legal Sports Betting In Delaware

Delaware is another state that was exempt from PASPA, though initially only partially. This is because, in 1976, Delaware expanded its lottery laws to include NFL parlay cards. They weren’t very popular and ceased offering this form of legal sports betting after a single year. But because they never repealed the law, Delaware became one of the four states grandfathered into the federal law PASPA.

With the overturn of PASPA, legal Delaware sports betting now includes single-game wagering. The same Vegas-odds and betting options that were once only in Nevada, are now offered in the First State. Sports betting in Delaware can be found at each of its three racetracks, Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway & Casino, and Delaware Park Racetrack.

Legal Sports Betting In Mississippi

Technically speaking, sports betting in Mississippi has been legal since the state included the provision in a 2017 daily fantasy sports bill. It was not until August 2018 that Mississippi sportsbooks launched in Tunica and Biloxi, as the state had to wait for the Supreme Court ruling on PASPA.

Now, residents and tourists can wager on sports at more than 20 different sportsbooks scoured across the state. All of these locations offer full-service sports wagering, though the state has not yet fully addressed mobile sports betting within its statutes.

Legal Sports Betting In Rhode Island

Rhode Island sports betting took most of the nation by surprise, with the state becoming the eighth state to start accepting sports bets. Only two casinos can hold sports betting licenses in the state – Twin River Casino (Lincoln) and Twin River Tiverton Casino. The law was passed on June 22nd, 2018 as part of the governor’s budget package.

Now, anyone 18 or older can place bets on football, basketball, hockey, tennis, baseball, and other popular sports at local Rhode Island sportsbooks. Right now, the casino sportsbooks do not offer any online or mobile opportunities.

Legal Sports Betting In New Jersey

After a years-long battle, no state is prouder to offer legal sports betting than New Jersey. The state has legalized sports betting at local racetracks and all of its Atlantic City casinos, as of June 2018. New Jersey sportsbooks are the most comprehensive, with land-based, online, and mobile betting options. Of all the legal sports betting states, New Jersey has the most competitive market outside of Nevada.

While most of the action is in NJ, all of the sportsbooks in New Jersey have full-service sports betting. Betting lines are available on all of the most popular sports and each sports gambling property provides a unique experience.

Legal Sports Betting In West Virginia

Lawmakers in West Virginia were vocal proponents of regulated sports betting in the US. The West Virginia sports betting law passed in March 2018, with full-scale West Virginia sportsbooks launching in August 2018 after the SCOTUS ruling. As the fifth state to launch legal sports gambling, WV could be considered an early pioneer of the industry.

There are five casinos in WV that offer sports betting, though one (The Greenbrier) is a members-only location. All of the locations accept single-game wagers on sports like football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and more. There are also online sports betting options in WV powered by local sportsbooks.

Legal Sports Betting In New Mexico

New Mexico sportsbooks appear to have been legalized overnight. The sportsbook at the tribal Santa Ana Star Casino opened its doors in October 2018, making New Mexico the sixth state with legal sports betting. Interestingly enough, there was no new legislation passed to make this happen. The Tamaya Nation at the Pueblo of Santa Ana were able to start offering sports betting based on the language within their state-tribal compact.

New Mexico’s first tribal sportsbook accept bets on both professional and collegiate sports. The venue features two self-service kiosks for convenience, along with four wagering stations. The Santa Ana Sportsbook is not able to accept mobile or online sports bets per their existing compact.

Legal Sports Betting In Pennsylvania

Sports betting in Pennsylvania was first legalized toward the end of 2017, with the law become active in May 2018. Pennsylvania sportsbooks first launched in November 2018 with full mobile and online capabilities. There are a total of 12 casino and racetrack locations eligible to offer legal PA sports betting.

PA sportsbooks are of course located in major cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, though there are also locations in central PA. The Rivers Casino Sportsbook is one of the most popular for sports fans, as the bookmaker is near both Heinz Field and PNC Park.

Types Of Wagers Offered At Land-Based Sportsbooks

Land-based sportsbooks are able to offer every type of wager they think will make money. Nevada sportsbooks will have everything from basic game lines like moneylines, spreads, and totals, to parlays, props, futures, specials, pleasers, teasers, if-bets, reverse if-bets, Asian Handicaps, and more. These sportsbooks bank on the fact that they are able to offer something that not every state will, so you’ll definitely be able to find the wager types you’re looking for.

States With Legal Online Sports Betting

Fortunately for players who enjoy betting on sports but don’t feel like driving or flying to a sportsbook to do so, there are many legal online sports betting options. While some states do have regulated gambling sites, most states have not passed legislation that allows or disallows the use of online gambling platforms. This means that legal online sports betting can be done at offshore sportsbooks in any state that has not passed anti-online gambling legislation. To date, that’s 43 states.

The states that do not have legal online sports betting are Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. That being said, their anti-gambling laws don’t actually mention sports betting by name, it’s just assumed under the umbrella of gambling. Also, most of these laws target the person who operates the site, rather than the person who places a bet. So it’s really at the bettor’s risk if they want to bet online.

Does The Wire Act Make Sports Betting Illegal?

No, the Wire Act does not make sports betting illegal. The Wire Act actually makes it unlawful for someone to take your bet, rather than to place one. The law was written this way in order to prevent interstate sports wagering from occurring. Federal lawmakers knew that if they made betting illegal, people would find a way around it. They figured that going after the person who takes the bets would be the more prudent course of action because people would just try to keep themselves out of trouble and stop taking bets on the phone or online. They were right because the Wire Act still prevents interstate sports betting from occurring today. Fortunately, though, the Wire Act is a US federal law, and so it has no jurisdiction over online sportsbooks that are located overseas. US laws cannot tell people in other countries what to do. Because of this, the Wire Act has no effect over online, offshore sportsbooks taking your wagers.

Regulating Online Sports Betting By State

You might be wondering how a single country’s gaming commission or control board can regulate offshore sports betting sites that serve a global community. While the laws in each country vary greatly, legal sports betting still abides by the same principles and basic standards. Those basic principles and standards are what create the framework that these gaming control boards use for regulating sportsbooks. To earn and keep a license, these legal sports betting sites have to maintain the standards set forth by the gaming commission in their country. If they don’t, they get their licenses taken away.

Which States Have Legal Sports Betting?

Mobile sports betting has made its way to a handful of the states that have passed measures to legalize sports betting. The states that are up-and-running are Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Rhode Island and Pennsylvania are approving measures to launch their industry in 2019. Regardless of what state you register in, you will only be able to bet on sports in that specific state due to a federal law known as the Wire Act, which prevents sportsbooks from accepting wagers across state lines. Mississippi has taken this one step further and only permits action to be taken if the player is physically located on the casino’s grounds.

Why Are States All Of A Sudden Allowed To Legalize Sports Betting?

The sudden rush to legalize sports betting has come from a successful appeal of the federal law known as PASPA. This law prevented licensed sportsbooks from operating within the country, with the exception of Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana (who all were grandfathered in due to their previously approved sports betting legislation). For years, the State of New Jersey challenged this ruling, even bringing it to the Supreme Court. In May of 2018, SCOTUS determined that entirety of PASPA was unconstitutional by violating each state’s 10th amendment right, choosing to overturn it by a vote of 6-3. This left a void in many states’ book of codes and now each state is determining their own regulations and legality in general of the sports betting industry for their state alone.

How Many States Currently Have Legal Sports Betting?

There are currently eight states with operating licensed sportsbooks that offer full-scale single-game wagering. Those states are Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New Mexico. Keep in mind that all of the states have different regulations. For example, New Jersey, Delaware, and Rhode Island do not permit sportsbooks to offer betting lines on college teams that are located in the state. This even includes sporting events that are played outside of state lines. New York, Arkansas, and D.C. have the laws permitting the industry but have yet to launch their first sportsbook. 

Which States Are Trying To Pass Legal Sports Betting Bills?

Many states have enacted some sort of legislation to begin the approval of their sports betting bills. Most of the time, it takes a neighboring state to introduce a measure to get the other states going. We saw a sweep of the Mid-Atlantic Region last year, which made Virginia approve measures this year to add their name on the list of states accepting wagers. The Midwest Region seems to be the next region that has been considering the effects more than others. Between Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota, you can bet that a few of these states will be next to announce. Kentucky lies in the middle of these two regions and has advanced on many discussions. Other than the Northeast, not much action is being taken elsewhere but be sure to check out our Map of Legal Sports Betting States for the most up to date information.

Do All States Have Legal Sports Betting Since PASPA Was Overturned?

The appeal of PASPA did not make sports betting legal in the country but rather gave the option to each state to determine their own viewpoint on sports betting. Many states do not have sports betting laws, as they used PASPA as their statute to prevent it. Less than a quarter of the states have passed legislation, while over half of all states have considered measures to study, permit, or expand the industry. While state laws vary, it will come down to voter referendums, legislative action, or both to bring legal sports betting to some states. 

When Will My State Have Legal Sports Betting?

With such a popular industry that can make each state extra money from tax contributions, you can assume that legal sports betting is coming to your state sometime in the near future (unless you live in Utah or Hawaii). According to the American Gaming Association, public support for sports betting is at an all-time high, where 79% of Americans support their state legalizing. * * Furthermore, with half of the country with measures in place, the dominoes will likely fall once the first one does. It is estimated that two-thirds of the states will have legalized sports betting by the year 2022.

Why Do Only A Few States Have Laws That Regulate Sports Betting?

Only a few states have laws that regulate legal sports betting because of dramatic changes to the industry. For 25 years, it was illegal for the majority of states to offer any kind of regulated sports betting. It was not until May 2018 that the Supreme Court put the power back into the states to legalize sports gambling. At this point, states are playing catch up and are carefully drafting sports betting legislation. Some states were able to legalize and launch sports betting in the immediate months after the SCOTUS ruling, while others prefer a wait-and-see approach. In either case, the states that regulate sports betting will eventually outnumber those that do not.

Are Online Sportsbooks Similar To Land-Based Sportsbooks?

Online sportsbooks and land-based sportsbooks both provide options for legal sports betting. All sportsbooks offer full-service wagering options, meaning that you will be able to find betting odds on all of the major sports leagues. Offshore online sportsbooks typically have the most wagering options, as state-licensed sites and sportsbooks sometimes have restrictions on local collegiate teams. The high licensing fees and taxes paid by regulated bookmakers to the state government also mean higher odds for customers. For example, BetOnline might have a spread at the standard -110 odds, while a local sportsbook will have the same line at -140 odds. Sports bettors should always shop lines for the best odds.

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