Legal online sports betting is taking the USA by storm. For decades, this practice was illegal in most of the United States. Under previous laws, only a select few states could legally allow sports betting. For a long time, Nevada held a near monopoly over the practice. However, US laws have changed. It’s now up to every state to decide on its own how to regulate sports betting.
Online sports betting is already legal in states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Indiana. Additionally, Michigan will likely launch its own online sports betting system soon. New York might be the next state to legalize online sports betting.
Check out our comprehensive guide below for everything you need to know about USA sports betting. We cover all the best online sportsbooks and mobile sports betting apps. Additionally, we go over the US sports betting laws you need to know.
Best Online Sports Betting Sites
Overview in maintenance
States with Legal Sports Betting
Sports betting only recently became legal at the federal level in the USA. It’s now up to every state to make its own sports betting laws. Presently, there are 17 US states with some form of legal sports betting. Additionally, almost two dozen states are in the process of legalizing the practice.
Here’s the Current Legal Sports Betting Situation in the USA:
Sports betting was federally illegal in the United States from 1992 to 2018. When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 was passed, heavy restrictions were enacted. However, the bill did not completely outlaw all US sports betting. A select few states were allowed to continue with legal sports betting. This was because those states had already allowed sports betting within their borders. They were Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware.
For more than 25 years, PASPA remained in effect. Sports betting was pretty much banned in much of the USA. However, legal challenges to the bill eventually came. Ultimately, Americans have New Jersey to thank for this.
In 2012, former NJ governor Chris Christie signed a bill that legalized sports betting at casinos and racetracks in NJ. Almost immediately, major professional sports organizations sued the state, citing PASPA. This was the first real legal challenge to PASPA. Ultimately, this seemingly small bill passed in NJ resulted in legal sports betting across the USA.
For more than 5 years, legal proceedings went on. Initially, the courts ruled that PASPA would remain in effect. This decision would have set a precedent for PASPA to remain in effect indefinitely. However, New Jersey appealed this decision.
Ultimately, the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. In 2018, the Supreme Court issued a final ruling on the matter. It declared that PASPA was unconstitutional. As a result, the bill was overturned. The court ruled that each US state must decide on its own sports betting laws.
US States With Legal Sports Gambling
Once PASPA finally fell, legal sports betting was quickly launched in many states. Presently, these are the US states with legal sports gambling:
- Delaware – Launched June 5, 2018
- New Jersey – Launched June 14, 2018
- Mississippi – Launched Aug. 1, 2018
- West Virginia – Launched Aug. 30, 2018
- New Mexico – Launched Oct. 16, 2018
- Pennsylvania – Launched Nov. 16, 2018
- Rhode Island – Launched Nov. 26, 2018
- Arkansas – Launched July 1, 2019
- New York – Launched July 17, 2019
- Iowa – Launched Aug. 15, 2019
- Oregon – Launched Aug. 27, 2019
- Indiana – Launched Sept. 1, 2019
- New Hampshire – Launched Dec. 30, 2019
- Illinois – Launched March 9, 2020
- Montana – Launched March 9, 2020
- Michigan – Launched March 11, 2020
- Colorado – Launched May 1, 2020
- Washington, DC – Launched May 28, 2020
Additionally, these states have passed sports betting legislation too. However, they have yet to officially launch the practice.
- Tennessee – April 2019
- North Carolina – July 2019
- Washington – March 2020
- Virginia – April 2020
Delaware, New Mexico and Oregon
Delaware was the first US state to legalized sports betting after PASPA was overturned. The state was quick to launch its sports betting market. In fact, Delaware already had a sports betting law in effect. The state slightly modified this law to create single-game wagering regulations. Everything else was left as-is. This allowed Delaware to launch sports betting very quickly. The state began accepting legal sports bets in June of 2018.
In New Mexico, sports betting was launched quickly too. The state’s Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel signed a sports betting deal with USBookmaking in October 2018. This casino is a tribal property, so it was able to launch sports betting quicker than most others. In fact, sports betting is still illegal in the rest of New Mexico. The tribe which owns Santa Ana can accept bets but only on its tribal lands. The tribe created The Pueblo of Santa Ana Gaming Regulatory Commission to regulate its sports betting activities.
Things were done similarly in Oregon. This state is also home to several tribal casinos. Oregon’s sports betting is controlled by the Oregon Lottery. It launched an online sports betting app in October 2018. The tribe-owned Chinook Winds Casino Resort was the first in the state to launch a retail sportsbook.
Legal USA Sports Betting
While it’s no longer federally illegal for US states to allow sports betting, not all of them do. However, many have legalized the practice.
States like Nevada which were legal under PASPA still allow sports betting. Nevada currently allows retail sportsbook betting and online sports betting via casino apps.
Presently, these are the US states with legal sports betting:
Delaware was the first state to legalize sports betting after PASPA was overturned. The state was able to leverage its existing laws with some small changes. This allowed Delaware to quickly legalize online sportsbook betting.
New Jersey was at the forefront of the fight against PASPA from the very beginning. However, that legal battle took a long time. Eventually, NJ did legalize sports betting. Governor Phil Murphy officially legalized the practice in the summer of 2018. In fact, the governor was at the launch of the state’s first retail sportsbook. He placed the state’s first legal sports bets. He bet on the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup, and Germany to win the World Cup.
Presently, there are 9 legal retail sportsbooks in NJ. Additionally, there are 13 legal online sports betting sites. Monmouth Park racetrack and Borgata Casino were the first retail sportsbook locations to open in NJ. DraftKings Sportsbook launched soon after with a mobile sports betting app. DraftKings is partnered with Resorts Casino in NJ but it doesn’t offer a retail location. Resorts Casino has since launched its own retail sportsbook without DraftKings.
To place sports bets via the DraftKings Sportsbook betting app, you need to be at least 21 years old and located inside NJ. The same goes for every single NJ online sportsbook.
The Borgata Casino is owned by MGM Resorts. This major player in the gambling world launched its own mobile sports betting app in 2018. The app is called playMGM. Unlike DraftKings, playMGM can only be used for mobile sports betting. There is no browser-based version of playMGM.
The most recent NJ online sportsbook to launch came from the Golden Nugget. Golden Nugget is the most successful Atlantic City casino based on revenue. It launched an online sports betting site in 2019.
NJ Mobile Sports Betting Apps
Players in NJ can use these betting apps to place sports bets:
NJ Retail Sportsbooks
NJ gamblers can also place sports bets at these retail sportsbook locations:
Pennsylvania has a massive sports betting market. The state launched its first retail sportsbooks in 2018. They were located at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Rivers Casino, and SugarHouse Casino. All of these are still operating today.
Soon after, Parx Casino, South Philadelphia Turf Club and Harrah’s Philadelphia also launched their own retail sportsbook. Many more have launched since then.
These are all the retail sportsbooks in PA today:
Pennsylvania launched online sports betting in 2019. The first of the betting apps to launch was SugarHouse Sportsbook PA. This was quickly followed by online sportsbook launches from Parx Casino and BetRivers. FanDuel Sportsbook came shortly after that.
These sports gambling operators could be next to launch in PA:
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- Valley Forge Sportsbook
- Presque Isle Downs Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
This state was actually the fifth US state to legalize sports betting after PASPA fell. The Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races was the first to launch. It opened a retail sportsbook location in 2018.
After the sportsbook launch by Hollywood Casino, many others followed quickly. Penn National, Mountaineer Casino, and Racetrack & Resort all launched sportsbooks within a few months.
Unfortunately, there was a bit of a hiccup for WV online sports betting. Both the Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos launched online sports betting in 2018 via the BetLucky Sportsbook brand. However, the parent company of both these casinos had some legal trouble with its technology partner for the project. Consequently, online sports betting was stopped indefinitely at both casinos.
Luckily, legal online sports betting returned to WV in 2019. Both FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook launched that year. Just a year later, The Greenbrier casino launched its BetMGM sports betting app. There are now three online sports betting sites in WV.
These are all the retail and online sportsbooks in WV today:
Mississippi launched its legal sports betting around the same time as New Jersey. The first sportsbooks to launching the state were at the Beau Rivage and Gold Strike Tunica casinos. Both are owned by MGM. Since then, more than two dozen others have joined the Mississippi sports betting market.
Mississippi was the first state after Nevada to launch sports betting at tribal casinos. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians was the first tribe in the state to launch sports betting. It opened a sportsbook at its Pearl River Resort in 2018.
However, Mississippi has some unique laws surrounding online sports betting. Mobile sports betting is not allowed outside of licensed sportsbook locations.
That said, major operators like DraftKings have still come to the state. DraftKings launched its Mississippi sportsbook at the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in 2018. This was actually the first DraftKings retail sportsbook and the company’s first sportsbook outside NJ.
These are all the retail and online sportsbooks operating in MS today:
This tiny state launched its first legal sportsbook in 2018. The first casino in the state to open a retail sportsbook was Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI. The Twin River Triverton casino also launched a retail sportsbook in 2018.
Rhode Island does allow online sports betting, but with some unique restrictions. In RI, gamblers must create online sports betting accounts in-person at retail locations.
New Mexico does have legal sports betting. However, this state is an interesting case. It’s one of the only US states to launch legal sports betting without changing its laws. That’s because the state’s compact with its Pueblo of Santa Ana tribe already allowed sports betting.
Consequently, the Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel launched a legal retail sportsbook in 2018. The Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino launched its retail sportsbook in 2019. These are the only sportsbooks operating in New Mexico.
This state launched legal sports betting in the summer of 2019. The first retail sportsbook in the state was opened at the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. The resort’s general manager placed the first legal sports bet in AR.
Today there are two retail sportsbook locations in Arkansas. The second was opened in early 2020 at the Southland Racing Casino.
New York does allow some sports betting, but online sports betting is prohibited.
Four commercially-owned casinos and racetracks offer legal sports betting in NY. They are Resorts World Catskills, Rivers Casino, del Lago Resort & Casino, and Tioga Downs.
There are also numerous tribal casinos in the state that accept sports bets. More will launch shortly thanks to a recent partnership between Kambi and the state’s Seneca Nation of Indians. The tribe’s three casinos in Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Salamanca will be launching retail sportsbooks soon.
There are currently 8 Iowa casinos which offer retail sports betting. Four of these casinos offer mobile sports betting via William Hill. They are Isle Bettendorf, Isle Waterloo, Lakeside, and Prairie Meadows.
The other four casinos should be launching online sports betting soon. Partnerships with industry giants including PointsBet, Kambi and Bet.Works have already been made.
Oregon offers both retail and online sports betting. The first sportsbook to launch in the state was at the Chinook Winds Casino. It opened it 2019. Presently, gamblers can bet on most professional and college sports at this location.
Oregon also offers legal mobile sports betting. It’s controlled by the Oregon Lottery. The state’s Scorecard betting app is now available for Android, iOS, and desktop devices. However, college sports betting is prohibited through this app.
Indiana launched its retail sports betting in 2019. Online sports betting in the state followed shortly after. Presently, DraftKings Sportsbook, BetRivers Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, BetAmerica, PointsBet and Unibet are all active in the state.
This state currently only offers online sports betting via DraftKings. Retail sports betting is allowed, but it hasn’t launched yet. When it eventually does, it will be powered by DraftKings.
Illinois offers legal online sports betting as well as retail sportsbooks. The first to launch in the state was the BetRivers Sportsbook at Rivers Casino. Additional retail sportsbooks launched shortly after. DraftKings at Casino Queen and William Hill at Grand Victoria Casino Elgin are also currently active in the state.
Of all these options, BetRivers is the only mobile sports betting option in IL. Gamblers must visit the Rivers Casino in-person in order to make new accounts on BetRivers.
Michigan is a relative newcomer to the sports betting world. This state launched several retail sportsbook locations in 2020. You’ll find retail sports betting in MI at Greektown’s Sportsbook at Greektown and MGM’s Moneyline Sports Lounge.
Montana is another newcomer to legal sports betting. The state officially launched sportsbooks in the spring of 2020. Montana sports betting is regulated by the Montana Lottery. The lottery has installed betting machines around the state where gamblers can place sports bets in-person. Additionally, the Montana Lottery allows online sports betting via its app or website. However, mobile sports betting in MN can only be done while located at retail betting locations.
Colorado legalized sports betting in May of 2020. Quickly, four online sports betting sites were launched in CO. In fact, FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, BetRivers and BetMGM all launched on the first day the program took effect. Due to the coronavirus pandemic at that time, only mobile sports betting was launched. Retail sportsbooks will likely launch soon.
These sports betting sites are currently active in CO:
US States with Upcoming Legal Sports Betting
There are plenty of US states that want to get rolling with legal sports betting. North Carolina and Tennessee actually passed legislation to legalize sports betting in 2019. These states have been slower to get things going and will hopefully debut some sportsbooks soon.
Virginia passed a law legalizing sports betting in April of 2020. However, things are still in the development phase. The state is still working on regulations for this new industry.
Alaska, Kansas, and Wyoming also passed legislation in 2020 legalizing sports betting. Alaksa’s law would have its state lottery control sports betting in the state. Wyoming’s law would prohibit sports bets on any college games or any college teams located in the state. The laws in all of these states will allow online sports betting.
Washington also passed a law in 2020 which would legalize sports betting in the state. However, the state’s laws are restrictive. Retail sports betting will only be allowed on tribal lands. Additionally, mobile sports betting is only allowed while inside tribal casinos.
US States Seeking to Legalize Sports Betting
Plenty of other US states have tried to get legal sports betting signed into law too. However, the others have all run into roadblocks. These states have tried to pass sports betting legislation in the last few years but have ultimately failed:
- South Carolina
Which Sports Can I Bet On?
In general, gamblers can place sports bets on all the major professional sports in the USA. College sports betting is also legal in most states.
These are the most common professional sports to bet on in the USA:
- Soccer (MLS)
US Sports Betting Laws
Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)
This act was passed in 1992. It set the scene for more than 25 years of restricted sports betting in the USA. This act prohibited sports betting in the USA outside of Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware.
This act was passed in an attempt to end corruption and “fixing” games. For years, criminals had successfully fixed games so they could make money on them. PASPA effectively put a stop to this.
However, PASPA was challenged in 2012 when NJ legalized sports betting at casinos and racetracks in the state. Immediately, the state was sued by major professional sports organizations like the MLB and NFL. This began a long legal process that would last 6 years.
At first, one court ruled that PASPA would remain in effect. After that, NJ opened a total of 4 appeals as the state’s case was repeatedly shut down. However, the case eventually went to the Supreme Court. Ultimately, the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, stating that it was unconstitutional. This left it up to each US state to make its own sports betting laws.
Today, US states can decide for themselves whether or not to legalize sports betting.
Interstate Wire Act
The Interstate Wire Act of 1961 is also commonly called the Federal Wire Act. When this law was passed, it was a very different era than it is today. At that time, the law was written to prohibit betting via a wire communication like a telegraph or phone. This was done in an attempt to crack down on organized crime in the USA.
However, as times changed, this law remained the same. New technologies like the internet were lumped in with “wire communication” methods. This meant that under the Federal Wire Act, online lottery, online casino, and online poker would all be illegal.
Conseqeuntly, the US Department of Justice released a legal opinion on the act in 2011. The DOJ stated that the Federal Wire Act should only apply to sports betting. Specifically, the DOJ wanted to clear up any confusion surrounding online lottery sales.
Ultimately, this DOJ opinion was a big reason that online casinos exploded in popularity in the USA. Several states took this opinion as a clear sign that online gambling could be legalized in many forms.
Sports Leagues & Sports Betting in the USA
When New Jersey first tried to legalize sports betting in 2012, it was sued by major professional sports organizations. Specifically, the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB all took the state to court over its 2012 law. Many of these pro leagues also opposed Delaware’s expansion of lottery parlay betting prior to the fall of PASPA.
However, today many professional leagues are beginning to soften their views. When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times in 2014, he took a favorable stance. He actually called for the repeal of PASPA.
In his op-ed, Silver called on the federal government to create a framework for sports betting on professional sports. Ultimately, Silver and his contemporaries in other leagues wanted a cut of the profits.
After PASPA was overturned, more leagues voiced similar opinions. Presently, several major league sports organizations are lobbying for a new federal bill. The leagues want a law that will give them a cut of sports betting profits.
Surprisingly, the NBA stepped out on its own. The league inked a deal with MGM Resorts. The deal states that MGM will be the official NBA sports betting partner. MGM Resorts will pay the league $25 million in order to use league stats and branding in betting promotions.
After this, the NHL did something similar. The NHL also signed an exclusive deal with MGM Resorts. As a result, MGM can use logos and data from all the league’s 31 teams in betting promotions.
Outside of this, two NHL teams have also gone out on their own. Both the Vegas Golden Knights and the New Jersey Devils have signed their own deals with William Hill.
The American Gaming Association & Sports Betting
The American Gaming Association (AGA) is a big proponent of legal sports betting. The AGA has long believed that restricting and outlawing sports betting only pushes gamblers to place illegal bets. Ultimately, the AGA is saying that people will still do what they want even if it’s illegal.
Consequently, the AGA was against PASPA. The organization strongly believed that illegal sports betting only increased after the bill was passed. Data collected by the AGA showed that Americans were betting more than $150 billion annually in illegal sports wagers under PASPA.
The AGA says that a legal and regulated sports betting market will benefit everyone involved. States which tax sports bets will get a cut of the action. Gamblers will be protected by strong regulations and oversight. Additionally, many jobs will be created.
September 2018 Congressional Hearing on Sports Betting
It’s not often that major stakeholders in the sports betting industry get to meet all at once. However, it happened in September of 2018 during a special congressional hearing.
The hearing was run by the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. The hearing was called “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.” The goal of the hearing was to determine the state of sports betting in the USA after PASPA was repealed.
Five expert witnesses gave statements during the hearing. The purpose of those statements was simply to inform lawmakers. The hearing was not meant to create new laws.
These were the five expert witnesses at the hearing:
- Les Bernal, National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling
- Jon Bruning, Counselor for Coalition to Stop Online Gambling
- Becky Harris, Chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board
- Jocelyn Moore, Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs of the NFL
- Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs of the American Gaming Association
As you can see from the occupations of these witnesses, many were against sports betting. Most of the witnesses spoke only about the integrity of sports and the protection of minors. This caused many observers to declare the hearing a sham.
In the end, nothing actually came out of this hearing. Ultimately, committee chair Jim Sensenbrenner (R – WI) ended the hearing by saying that more federal laws were needed to oversee US sports betting. However, since this hearing took place, not federal sports betting bills have been passed. US states are still free to enact their own sports betting laws.