U.S. Sports Betting — Where You Can Legally Sports Bet
Sports enthusiasts are often asking: Is sports betting legal in my state? It wasn’t too long ago that the answer was no for almost everywhere in the U.S., but things have changed and are ever-evolving. For those looking to stay up to date with the legal sports betting landscape in the United States, you’ve come to the right place.
Legal sports betting is on the rise in the U.S. Following a US Supreme Court ruling in May 2018, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was struck down, opening the door for states to legalize sports betting on their own.
Since 1992, PASPA outlawed sports betting nationwide, other than in a few states, such as Nevada, that had already established sports betting and been grandfathered in. In the case of Murphy vs. NCAA, New Jersey challenged whether the U.S. Government had the right to control state laws. As a result, it was deemed that PASPA was unconstitutional by a vote of 6-3.
It didn’t take long at all for NJ to pass sports betting legislation, with Gov. Phil Murphy signing a bill into law in June 2018. Several states got to work passing their own legislation for regulated sports betting and a handful more came on board before 2018 came to an end.
Let’s take a look at which states have legal sports betting.
Where is sports betting legal in the U.S.?
There are more states than ever with legal sports betting, and more states should come on board in the coming months and years. Starting with NJ in 2018, the legal sports betting industry has seen a bit of a domino effect. The taxes and revenue being generated by states with legal and regulated sports betting are not being overlooked by other states.
|State||Online/mobile Sports Betting||Retail Sports Betting|
|North Carolina||No||Coming soon|
State-by-state sports betting overview
Alabama: Sports betting is not currently legal in Alabama. Although a bill to legalize sports betting in Alabama was introduced in April 2019, the movement failed.
Alaska: Legal sports betting is not available in Alaska and it doesn’t appear that the state will be pushing legislation in the near future, due to strict laws against gambling and lawmakers unwilling to change the current landscape.
Arizona: Sports betting has yet to become legal in Arizona, although there does appear to be some interest. In early 2019, a bill was introduced that would allow “federally recognized Indian tribes” to offer sports betting. The bill failed and was introduced again in 2020.
Arkansas: With an approved referendum in November 2019, sports betting became legal in Arkansas. Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort opened in July 2019 as the first retail sportsbook in the state. Currently, retail sports betting is the only form of legal sports betting available in Arkansas. Mobile and online wagering are not yet legal.
California: California has been in and out of the news for a few years as it pertains to sports betting, but traction has been minimal and the experience frustrating. A previous bill was introduced that would allow the Golden State to offer legal sports betting if a change in federal law occurred. Clearly, the bill was looking directly at PASPA in hopes that it was struck down. The bill received no traction. Another bill was introduced in 2020 and needs to pass both chambers by June 25 in order to be put on the November ballot.
Colorado: In November 2019, voters in Colorado approved legal sports betting to come to the state, and sportsbooks launched in May 2020. Both mobile and retail sports betting is allowed.
Connecticut: It’s a bit of a standoff to allow sports betting in Connecticut. Like California, a bill was passed in Connecticut that would allow the state to offer legal sports betting if a change in federal law occurred, and this bill was passed before the overturning of PASPA. Despite PASPA getting overturned, Connecticut has still yet to pass sports betting legislation and move forward, though.
Delaware: Delaware is one of the few states that was exempt from PASPA and grandfathered into allowing sports bettings, although the state didn’t launch single-game betting until June 2018. There is no mobile or online sports betting in Delaware at this time. All sports betting in Delaware is retail only.
Florida: Sports betting is not currently legal in Florida, although a bill that was submitted in November 2019 is on the docket to be considered in 2020. If Florida elects to proceed with the process, expect the Seminole Tribe to play a big role. With the third-largest population of any U.S. state at more than 21 million, Florida would be a huge addition to the regulated sports betting market, but for now, we’ll need to wait and see how 2020 progresses.
Georgia: The legal sports betting initiative is growing in Georgia, but sports betting is not yet legal at this time.
Hawaii: Sports betting is not legal in Hawaii and it doesn’t appear that it will be anytime soon.
Idaho: No recent action has been taken to make way for legal sports betting in Idaho.
Illinois: As of the passing of SB 690 in 2019, Illinois has legal sports betting. The first legal bets were taken in March 2020 at Rivers Casino Des Plaines. Both mobile and retail sports betting is allowed in Illinois.
Indiana: Legal mobile and retail sports betting are allowed in Indiana. The first retail sportsbooks went live in September 2019, followed by the first online/mobile sportsbooks going live in October 2019. Big players such as DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook are among the online/mobile operators up and running in Indiana.
Iowa: Legal sports betting is allowed in Iowa, launching in August 2019. Mobile and retail sports betting is allowed.
Kansas: Sports betting is not yet legal in the Sunflower State. A bill to allow online sports betting passed the Kansas Senate in early 2020, so there is some progress in the right direction.
Kentucky: There is a push for legal sports betting in the Bluegrass State. A bill was introduced in 2020 and it had the support of the governor, but it’s still early.
Louisiana: Legal sports betting could be coming to Louisiana in 2020. In November, voters will make the decision.
Maine: There has been some movement to legalize sports betting in Maine, but the most recent bill was killed by House vote in February 2020.
Maryland: Could Maryland join the list of states with regulated sports betting? It could. A bill has passed both the Senate and the House. In November 2020, residents will vote and Maryland could have legal sports betting in 2021.
Massachusetts: One of the states to watch, Massachusetts is home to one of the industry’s leading operators, DraftKings, and progress towards legal sports betting continues to be made. Massachusetts certainly understands the need for legal sports betting, with several nearby states passing legislation and the governor in support.
Michigan: Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, sports betting became legal in December 2019 and launched in March 2020 through retail sports betting. The overseeing body, the Michigan Gaming Control Board, is still working out details for online/mobile sports betting that is likely to go live in 2021.
Minnesota: There are efforts to get legal sports betting in Minnesota, although it is not yet legal at this time. Trying to get it done in 2019 didn’t work out, but supporters will be back in 2020 to try again.
Mississippi: Sports betting is legal in Mississippi. Following PASPA getting overturned, the Mississippi Gaming Commission worked swiftly to put regulations in place and sports betting started on August 1, 2018. Currently, only retail sports betting is legally available in Mississippi.
Missouri: There have been discussions about legal sports betting in the Show-Me State, but nothing has materialized at this time.
Montana: After passing a bill to legalize sports betting in May 2019, Montana went live in March 2020. There is currently only retail sports betting in Montana.
Nebraska: Sports betting is not yet legal in Nebraska, but the state has taken notice due to both Iowa and Colorado being open for business.
Nevada: Sports betting is legal in Nevada, and it’s been that way for what has seemed like forever. As the gambling capital of the world, NV has been iconic in the world of legal sports betting, most prominently in Las Vegas. Mobile and retail sports betting are legally available.
New Hampshire: Mobile sports betting is legal in New Hampshire. Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill into law in July 2019 and mobile sports betting went live on December 30. DraftKings secured a contract to be the Granite State’s exclusive operator in exchange for 51% of gross gaming revenue to go to the state. Retail sports betting locations are permitted and are likely to be opened by DraftKings soon.
New Jersey: Following a U.S .Supreme Court ruling in May 2018, PASPA was overturned and New Jersey wasted little time in moving forward. Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law in June 2018 to pass sports betting legislation in the Garden State and sports wagers began to be accepted on June 14. Online/mobile and retail sports betting are legally available in NJ.
New Mexico: Legal sports betting is available in New Mexico, although only through retail at a handful of tribal casinos in the state. The first sportsbook opened in October 2018.
New York: Sports betting is legal in New York, but only retail sports betting is available. The first sportsbooks opened in July 2019 and are available at several of the state’s casinos. Supporters are continuing to push for online/mobile sports betting to become a part of the state’s regulated industry.
North Carolina: Retail sports betting is legal in North Carolina, but sportsbooks have yet to open and will only be available at two tribal casinos, Harrah’s Cherokee and Valley River.
North Dakota: There has been some push for legalized sports betting in North Dakota but nothing has materialized. Two bills were on the table in 2019, but those did not pass.
Ohio: Ohio is showing some promise for legal sports betting, as an updated bill, HB 194, is moving forward. Ohio isn’t there yet, but the forward progress is welcoming. Surrounding Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all having legal sports betting markets.
Oklahoma: Opposing forces in Oklahoma have legal sports betting at a standstill in the Sooner State.
Oregon: Sports betting is legal in Oregon, with both online/mobile and retail sports betting available. The first retail sportsbook opened in August 2019 and online/mobile wagering began in October.
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania has legal sports betting, both online/mobile and retail. The first legal sports wager was taken by Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, PA, in November 2018. Mobile and online sports betting began in May 2019, and most of the land-based casinos in the Keystone State have sportsbooks.
Rhode Island: Sports betting is legal in Rhode Island. When Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the state budget in 2018, it included language for the state to allow sports betting. Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI, accepted the state’s first sports bet in November 2018. The Tiverton Casino Sportsbook opened its doors in December 2018. In 2019, mobile sports betting was added.
South Carolina: Sports betting is not yet legal in South Carolina at this time.
South Dakota: Although sports betting is not yet legal in South Dakota, there will be an opportunity for voters to legalize it in November 2020. If approved, sports betting could come to SD in 2020, but it appears that it would only be retail sports betting.
Tennessee: A surprise to enter the world of legal sports betting, Tennessee passed the country’s first online/mobile-only sports betting bill in 2019. The hopes are for sportsbooks to be live in 2020.
Texas: Legal sports betting is not yet available in the Lone Star State.
Utah: There is no gambling in Utah, including a state lottery, so as you can imagine legal sports betting is not available.
Vermont: Although a few bills have been brought up, Vermont has yet to really move forward in a push for legal sports betting.
Virginia: Sports betting became legal in Virginia in April 2020 and the hope is that sportsbooks go live before the end of the year. Virginia sports betting will take place via online/mobile sportsbooks.
Washington: In March 2020, Washington legalized sports betting to take place at the state’s tribal casinos. Those casinos can launch sports betting apps but those apps will only be accessible on tribal land.
Washington, D.C.: Retail and online sports betting are legal in Washington, D.C., launching in May 2020 after the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act was passed in December 2018.
West Virginia: Legal sports betting is available in West Virginia through the West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Act. The Mountain State was the fifth state to legalize sports betting and the first wagers were accepted in late August 2018. Both mobile and retail sports betting is permitted.
Wisconsin: There is no movement towards legal sports betting in Wisconsin at this time, and the state is losing sports bettors to neighboring states Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan.
Wyoming: A new bill was introduced in early 2020 for online/mobile-only sports betting, but it failed in a House vote. Wyoming won’t legalize sports betting in 2020 because the legislative session closed in early March. The vote was close, though, so we could see it brought back up next year.
What types of sports bets are legal in the U.S.?
All of the regulated sports betting markets across the U.S. will vary in terms of what types of bets are being offered, but the majority of sportsbooks, both retail and online/mobile, will offer some of the most common bet types. Below is a list of some of the types of sports bets you can expect to see available at a legal U.S. sportsbook.
- Point spread: A very common type of sports bet, especially when it comes to football or basketball betting, a point spread is how sides are handicapped against one another. Point spreads are the number of points one side is giving up to the other in order to make the final outcome more equal. Betting the point spread means you’ll bet if a team can cover the number of points posted, either winning by more than a certain amount or losing by less than a certain amount.
- Moneyline: A moneyline bet is as simplistic a wager as they come. With a moneyline wager, you’re betting on one side to win. There is no point spread or handicap involved. With a moneyline bet, you just pick the winner and the odds will determine the price of the payout.
- Totals: Totals are over/under bets for a score in a competition. Totals can be for both teams combined, for one team, or broken down by a section of the game, such as a first-half total in football. With totals, you’re betting if the score will be greater than or less than the over/under line the sportsbook sets.
- Parlays: Parlays are when more than one bet is combined into one wager. With multiple legs included in one bet, the payouts can be larger than a single-game wager. The more legs (individual bets) included in a parlay, the greater the payout. In order to win a parlay bet, all legs must win.
- Teasers: A teaser is also a type of bet that combines multiple wagers into one, but teasers use points to alter the sides in a bettor’s favor. With the alteration comes a lesser payout, though.
- Prop bets: A prop bet is a wager that is decided during a game but isn’t tied to the outcome of the game. The term “prop bet” is short for “proposition bet.”
- Player props: Player props are prop bets that are tied to a specific player, and they are tied to a player’s output during a game and not the outcome of the game itself.
- Futures: A futures bet is a wager that is set to take place in the future. Most often, a futures bet is a wager placed on the outcome of an event that will be decided at the end of the current or upcoming season.
- Live/in-play: Live betting, or in-play betting, is wagering that takes place while competition is running. The betting odds for live/in-play betting are constantly changing as games progress. Live/in-play betting is growing in popularity in the regulated U.S. market.
For more on the lingo used around the sports betting industry, check out our guide to common sports betting terms.
Advantages of legal sports betting in the U.S.
Before PASPA was overturned, legal sports betting options in the U.S. were scarce. For all intents and purposes, unless you lived in Las Vegas, NV, you were pretty much out of luck. Instead, you were pushed to finding an offshore, black market site or a local bookie. For those looking for safety and security when betting real money, those options aren’t the best.
Since PASPA was overturned, more states have adopted legal sports betting, as you can see from the list of states above. This gives bettors more options to safely wager their money in a regulated sports betting market.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of legal sports betting in the U.S.
Safe and secure betting market
Offshore sites don’t come with the same sort of regulatory guidelines to adhere to like legal sportsbooks in the U.S. do. You might have to jump through obscure hoops to get your money on and off the site, the operators could impose limits or ban you for winning too much, and they might not pay.
You also don’t have to worry about meeting up with your local bookie in an empty parking lot to hand him a bag of cash or collect your winnings. The regulated sports betting markets around the U.S. are on the up and up.
Many times when betting with bookies, you’re betting on credit and you settle later on. This isn’t a practice that legal sportsbooks follow. If you’re betting at a retail sportsbook, you’ll need to pay for the wager at the time you make it. If you’re betting online or through mobile, you’ll need to have the funds in your account to bet. This can help bettors avoid running up big tabs with bookies and getting in trouble from that tab getting too large.
Tax revenue for states
The regulated sports betting industry is taxed by governments and operators must pay those taxes to receive a license and operate. The tax money the states receive can do a lot of good things, including reduce budget deficits, pay for schools, fix roads and parks, or improve public transportation. States can use the money and a legal sports betting market can generate a lot of it for them.
Operators are going to need people to run the sportsbooks. Whether it’s a retail sportsbook, an online sportsbook, and a mobile sportsbook, jobs can be created to run those operations. In the case of a retail sportsbook, there will need to be construction to build the venue and then oddsmakers, managers, and cashiers to run the operations. For online and mobile sportsbooks, developers, programmers, and graphic designers will be used.
With many states being new to the world of legalized sports betting, the various operators within those states will be fighting for market share. This is a good thing for bettors, as those operators compete with each other via the promotions they offer to bettors. How can sportsbooks get customers in the door? With better promotional offers, and those promotional offers can be advantages for bettors.
If someone wants to go to a movie on a Friday night, they can as long as they pay for it. If someone wants to go out to a bar and have a drink, they can as long as they are of age and can pay for it. Why can’t adults bet on sports if they’d like and can afford to do so? Legal sports betting allows more people to be able to have the freedom to do what they want as entertainment, which can include sports betting, as long as they’re doing it safely.
Help problem gamblers
Believe it or not, more sports betting availability can actually help with problem gambling. Sportsbooks can detect problem gamblers and seek to offer help. Legal sportsbooks would be more inclined to do so as compared to offshore sportsbooks or bookies.
Additionally, many states that have legalized sports betting are taking a percentage of the tax revenue earned and dedicating it to helping problem gamblers.