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

US States With Land-Based Sports Betting

There are currently 12 US states with land-based sports betting that is available to gamblers right now, with that 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. Some states have legalized land-based sports betting but are still in the process of launching their industries, such as CT, MT, NC, IN, IL, NH, CO, and VA (though CO and VA are special cases where full legalization is contingent on future voter referenda). Though not a state itself, Washington D.C. is also included in the list of states that have passed sports betting laws. Tennessee has also legalized sports betting, but not at land-based venues. TN is the first state to legalize only online sports wagering.

Currently, there are no other states pending immediate legalization, but many other states are moving forward with the process in 2019. Most states looking to make sports betting legal are doing so primarily via land-based routes first, with mobile generally slated to follow in relatively short order. A few states have shied away from legalizing mobile betting for now, however, opting to promote their land-based casino and sportsbook investments. The states with regulated sportsbooks that are already up and running include the following:

  • Delaware
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia
  • Arkansas
  • New York
  • Iowa
  • Oregon

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, can legally offer sportsbooks.

A unique feature of legal sports betting in Nevada is that you can actually use mobile betting apps to browse boards and place wagers. Most of 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. (Several other states have taken a cue from NV on mobile wagering and have legalized similar practices within their own borders.)

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 scene. 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 were able to offer every type of wager they thought would make money, using trial and error to focus that field over the years. Nevada sportsbooks have everything from basic game odds like moneylines, spreads, and totals, to parlays, props, futures, specials, pleasers, teasers, if-bets, reverse if-bets, Asian Handicaps, and more. These sportsbooks used to bank on the fact that they were able to offer something that every other state was denied the right to, which has given them the time, space, and money to set the full-service, single-game sports wagering standard that all current states are following in their own efforts to legalize post-PASPA. Despite lots of upstart competition, Nevada is still the grand-daddy of them all.

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 the state 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 exemptions (though only for those parlay cards). 

With the overturn of PASPA, legal Delaware sports betting now includes single-game wagering. The same Vegas-style 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. Delaware has also legalized online sports betting, but that product has not yet been rolled out.

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 spread 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. Most insiders believe Mississippi will have legal online sports wagering up and running sometime in 2020 or 2021 at the latest.

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 to legalize sports betting was passed on June 22, 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, though these are both on the horizon.

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 betting products available on the East Coast, 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 wagering action is concentrated in Atlantic City, 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 law to legalize West Virginia sports betting was passed in March 2018, with full-scale West Virginia sportsbooks launching in August 2018 after the May 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 can offer sports betting, though one (The Greenbrier) is a members-only location. Three out of the five are operational at the moment. 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 was able to start offering sports betting based on the language within their state-tribal compact.

New Mexico’s first tribal sportsbook (Santa Ana Star) accepts 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. Since the Tamaya gambit, more land-based NM sportsbooks have opened under the same compact allowances, albeit at different tribal venues. Legal online sports betting requires the NM congress to pass a new law, which is currently not in the cards.

Legal Sports Betting In Pennsylvania

Sports betting in Pennsylvania was first legalized toward the end of 2017, with the law becoming active in May 2018 upon PASPA’s overturn. Pennsylvania sportsbooks first launched in November 2018 with full mobile and online capabilities, though the first online book wasn’t launched until late May 2019. There are a total of 12 casino and racetrack locations eligible to offer legal PA sports betting, and nearly all of them currently do.

PA sportsbooks are of course located in major cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, though there are also several sports wagering venues in central PA. The Rivers Casino Sportsbook is one of the most popular books for sports fans, as the bookmaker is near both Heinz Field and PNC Park. Pennsylvania sportsbooks are taxed at 36% of revenue, the highest rate in the country.

Legal Sports Betting In Montana

Two different kinds of sports wagering were legalized in Montana in May 2019: sports tabs/pools and single-game online betting. These were each passed in their own bills, and both versions are slated to go live by the start of the 2019-2020 NFL season. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, this deadline is definitely achievable.

Montana’s famous tavern industry will be the beneficiary of the renewed and refreshed sports tabs and sports pools, all of which will be offered at these venues in-person on a pari-mutuel basis. The Montana Lottery will handle the administration of full single-game (i.e. “Vegas-style”) betting, which will be available over the Internet (at on-site locations only) and at lottery retailers and other bar and restaurant venues in the form of electronic sports wagering kiosks.

Legal Sports Betting In New York

New York actually legalized sports betting at its four upstate commercial casino venues (and by extension, its 7 tribal casino locales) all the way back in 2013 via public referendum. However, instead of immediately launching these books upon PASPA’s overturn, NY lawmakers took extra time to work out the finer points. That culminated in a list of regulatory rules, which have finally been approved and adopted.

With no challenges to the rules, land-based single-game sports wagering was formally launched on July 16, 2019, when the Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady opened its sportsbook to the public. There will be no state-licensed online sports betting in New York until new laws are passed to allow for such.

Legal Sports Betting In Connecticut

Land-based sports wagering was legalized in CT in 2017, before the overturn of PASPA. However, the state must carefully decide how to implement the new industry, as it has to balance commercial interests with the tribal interests already established in the state. So far, this task has proven more difficult than expected.

The Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Nation believe they have exclusive rights to offer sports betting, while OTB providers like Sportech and the Connecticut Lottery – and big hitters like Caesars Entertainment – are all angling for a piece of the action. Until a functional operational agreement can be hammered out, no land-based sports wagering venues will open inside the state.   

Legal Sports Betting In Arkansas

Land-based sports betting was legalized in Arkansas in November 2018 via voter referendum (Issue 4). The law authorizes four casino/racino venues, though only two have been confirmed: Oaklawn Jockey Club (Garland County) and Southland Racing Corporation (Crittenden County). Sports wagering is overseen by the Arkansas Racing Commission, and bettors must be 21 or older in order to participate. The Oaklawn venue was first to market, accepting its first bets on July 1, 2019.

There is no provision in the existing AR law for state-licensed online sports betting. In order for any Internet-based domestic sportsbooks to open, a new law will have to be crafted and passed. It is unclear if such an expansion would require statewide voter approval.

Legal Sports Betting In Illinois

Sports wagering was legalized in Illinois on June 28, 2019, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed SB 690 into law. The law allows for sports betting lounges to operate at the state’s 10 riverboat casino venues, and it also allows horse racing tracks in the state to host sportsbooks. Lottery retail locations could also offer sports betting under the law. Additionally, SB 690 allows for online and mobile sports betting statewide, and it also creates 6 new casino licenses to expand gambling in the state.

Sports betting revenue in IL will be taxed at a rate of 15%. Master sports betting license fees are set at 5% of gross gaming revenue for each applicant, with a maximum $10 million fee. These licenses are good for four years. The law also allows for three online-only sportsbook licenses, which cost $20 million each. For the first 18 months, online bettors will have to register in person at their books’ partner casinos.

Legal Sports Betting In New Hampshire

New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu (R) signed HB 480 into law on July 12, 2019. The law authorizes up to 10 in-state retail betting licenses and up to 5 online betting licenses for statewide mobile wagering. License fees are not specified in the NH law, and sportsbook applicants will be selected based on a bidding process. New Hampshire will select the operators that offer the largest revenue-sharing proposals to the state.

There is no concrete timeline for when sports betting will formally launch in NH. The only restrictions of the new sports betting law are that bettors must be at least 18 years old and that no in-state NCAA team or game can be wagered on at state-licensed books. Collegiate games that include non-NH teams and which are played outside state borders can be wagered on at New Hampshire sportsbooks.

Legal Sports Betting In Indiana

The Indiana legislature passed legislation to legalize sports wagering in late April 2019, and it was signed by the governor on May 8, 2016. Legal sports wagering in Indiana is allowed to be offered at any of IN’s 13 casino venues, though the bill allows for the building of more gambling sites, which will also be able to offer sports betting. Indiana law also allows online sports wagering, making the state one of the most comprehensive sports wagering destinations on the map.

Legal Sports Betting In Tennessee

House Bill 1, a sports betting omnibus, was passed by the state legislature in early May 2019, and passed into law without Gov. Bill Lee’s signature on May 24. Right now, sports wagering is 100% online-based in the state. The newly-formed Tennessee Gaming Commission will oversee the betting industry. Tennessee does not allow prop betting on NCAA contests, but standard betting lines are approved.

Local TN municipalities can seek referendums to approve construction of casino venues within their borders, which could then offer land-based betting in the future. Remote electronic kiosks are allowed under the law, and these may be deployed at various businesses and storefronts throughout the state.

Legal Sports Betting In Iowa

Three closely-related sports wagering bills have been passed by the IA legislature and were signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on May 13, 2019. These legal Iowa sports wagering bills allow betting to take place at any of the state’s 19 brick-and-mortar gambling venues (both land-based and riverboat). The Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission oversees the industry, and vendors are taxed at 6.75%, matching NV’s sportsbook tax rate as the lowest in the US. Online sports betting is authorized under the law, but it will require in-person registration at a qualified casino venue until January 1, 2021. Both land-based and state-wide online sports betting apps were launched on August 15, 2019.

Legal Sports Betting In Oregon

Oregon was originally one of four states that were exempt from the federal ban on sports betting known as PASPA. After PASPA was repealed, the Oregon Lottery took it upon themselves to create regulations for the state’s legal sports betting industry. There was no need for any Oregon sports betting bills to pass through the legislature in order to authorize sportsbooks.

The first Oregon sportsbooks to launch came at the Chinook Winds Casino Resort on August 27, 2019. Tribal casinos can only offer land-based sports betting options, but they can also offer collegiate betting. To counter that, the state lottery will launch a state-wide mobile betting app in the fall of 2019 and will limit it to only betting on professional sports such as the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

Types Of Wagers Offered At Land-Based Sportsbooks

The types of wagers offered at land-based sportsbooks vary per their home state’s specific sports betting laws. Most states have used Nevada’s decades-old sportsbooks as their models, but not all states offer the same action. For example, in New Jersey, you can bet on the Oscars, which is something you can’t wager on in Nevada. Meanwhile, in Nevada, you can bet on local college teams and NCAA games played inside the state, neither of which are allowed in New Jersey. Some states will disallow certain types of bets, too, like player props for NCAA games or sports specials that don’t actually reflect on-field play (like the color of the Super Bowl-winning coach’s Gatorade shower). Some states have mobile betting while others are brick-and-mortar only, and so on. However, specifics aside, most all states’ legal US sportsbooks will offer the standard far of straight bets, spreads, totals (over/unders), futures, teasers, pleasers, if-bets, in-game wagers, and more.

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 45 states.

The states that do not have legal online sports betting are Hawaii, Louisiana, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. That being said, their anti-gambling laws don’t actually mention sports betting by name – instead, the activity just assumed to reside under the umbrella of “gambling.” Also, most of these states’ laws only target the persons or companies that operate sports betting sites on state/US soil; they do not go after the people who actually place these bets. Even in the states that seemingly bar online sports betting, nobody has ever been arrested in for the simple act of placing wagers at offshore sports betting sites over the Internet.

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

As you know, regulated online sports betting is now a state-by-state matter. With no more federal interference, states can individually decide how, when, and where to offer their own sports wagering products. Each state’s regulations will be unique to that state, even if multiple states elect to follow the same general rubric. However, such regulation is limited only to books and services that operate inside a given state’s borders. 

In the case of offshore online sports betting sites, state regulations – as well as federal regulations (including PASPA, when it was still active) – have no impact whatsoever on those businesses or your freedom to enjoy their sports wagering products. Offshore books exist outside the scope of US regulatory oversight and legal jurisdiction. Because all these US and state laws criminalize only unlicensed domestic sportsbook operators, offshore operators are unaffected. And since individuals in the US are not criminalized for placing real-money wagers with these operators, nobody is breaking any laws. 

All that said, do not make the mistake of thinking that these offshore books are not regulated. They are absolutely regulated, licensed, and regularly inspected for compliance by their home countries’ gaming commissions and other appropriate government bodies. As such, it remains against the law for these books to cheat their customers, and they are all held to as high a standard as any licensed, domestic US book. Again, just because an offshore book is not licensed and regulated by the US, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t licensed and regulated in their own countries. These books are safe and legitimate, provided you choose the most respected, long-lived providers in the business. 

Which States Have Legal Mobile 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 have domestic (i.e. state-based) mobile betting up and running are Nevada, New Jersey, West Virginia, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. Mississippi has mobile betting, but this is limited only to the grounds of licensed casinos that have operational books. Several other states – particularly those without existing casino districts or robust land-based gambling industries – are legalizing mobile betting as a matter of course whenever they pass otherwise standard sports betting legislation. Delaware is something of a special case, as it is legally able to offer mobile sports betting via its state lottery, but that product has not yet rolled out. Tennessee is in a unique position as the only state that has legalized mobile betting but not land-based betting. Eventually, of course, almost all states that establish their own legal sports betting industries will also have state-based online betting options.

Regardless of what state you officially reside in, you will only be able to bet on sports via domestic online or land-based books while physically inside that specific state. In other words, for state-based sports betting, states are geo-fenced. You cannot be in California and call in a bet to a Las Vegas casino, for example. Similarly, you cannot physically be in Tennessee and place bets with an online New Jersey sportsbook. This is all due to a federal law known as the Interstate Wire Act, which prevents sportsbooks from accepting wagers across state lines. Some states, like Mississippi, have taken this geo-fencing concept one step further by only permitting mobile betting to be operational if the player is physically located on the casino’s grounds.