Where Is Online Sports Betting Legal in the USA?
If you’re wondering whether betting on sports online is legal in your state, you’ve come to the right place. On this page you’ll find accurate and up to date information about the latest developments in US sports betting laws and regulations, state by state.
When it comes to legal online sports betting in the USA, things are changing fast. That’s because the US Supreme Court made a landmark decision to lift the federal ban on sports betting, paving the way for each state the authority to regulate its own sports gambling markets and laws.
Within months of the decision, a number of states including New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, and New Mexico had already started allowing people to make safe and secure sports wagers with even more states following suit soon after.
It’s an exciting time for US sports betting and with tons of new betting opportunities opening every day there’s never been a better chance to take a shot. Use our guides to find the best places to play in your state as well as comprehensive information on legalized sports betting in America.
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State by State Guides
States Where Some Form of Sports Betting is Legal
WSN is committed to helping US sports bettors find the best sites, best bonuses and the best odds and it all starts with finding you a safe and secure place to play.
In our state by state sports betting guides, we dig into where you can make legal online sports wagers including the states’ current and past sports gambling laws and what to expect in the future.
Our guides include:
- The current legal status of online sports betting.
- History of sports betting in the state.
- The best sites and land-based casinos that accept sports bets.
- Predictions about the state’s future sports betting options.
If your state already allows sports betting, check out our guide before you sign up for an account to get tons of valuable information. If your state doesn’t allow it yet, keep an eye on your state’s guide for important developments that will pave the way to regulation in the near future.
We highly recommend waiting for your state to introduce legal and regulated online sports betting before you place real money wagers. While it’s technically not illegal for US citizens to make bets with unregulated offshore casinos, there are many risks associated with doing so.
Safe and regulated sports gambling is either coming to your state soon or it’s already there and by sticking to licensed sites you’ll make sure your money and personal information are 100% secure. Good luck.
Current Online Sports Betting Situation in the USA
Right now, full-on sports betting is available legally in Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and more states (see our map above to check your home state). More states are introducing it all the time now that the federal ban has been lifted, and, in this section, we’ll explain why.
Chances are if you’re a sports fan, a gambler, or both you’ve heard people talking about the Supreme Court decision we mentioned earlier. In this section, we’ll explain it in detail and tell you exactly how it affects the current legal situation of online sports betting in the United States.
Prior to May of 2018 sports betting was largely regulated by the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This legislation effectively made sports betting illegal across the country with a few major exceptions:
- All forms of gambling remained legal in Nevada.
- State sports lotteries remained legal in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon.
- Jai alai and pari-mutuel betting on horse and dog racing remained legal.
In 2011 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie filed a lawsuit saying that the PASPA violated US States’ rights to govern themselves. That same year, New Jersey held a non-binding referendum to find out whether its citizens were in favor of legalized sports betting. The state voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalized gambling on sports.
It took until 2018 for the case to be settled but the Supreme Court eventually ruled in favor of New Jersey, now led by new Governor Phil Murphy, giving each state the authority to legislate its own rules governing sports betting.
The situation is developing quickly as more and more states scramble to pass laws and get in on the wealth of tax revenue associated with regulated sports betting.
Where in the US Is Sports Betting Legal?
The states that have already passed legislation allowing betting operators and are currently accepting fully legal sports wagers include:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- North Carolina
- New Mexico and Oregon also offer limited sports betting via the state’s lottery.
Betting on fantasy sports falls into a different category than traditional sports betting and is allowed in all states except Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Arizona.
Indiana, Louisiana, and Virginia have limited daily fantasy sports operators at the moment.
Indiana sports betting is likely to become a reality sometime in 2020. It should be said that New Mexico and North Carolinas current sports betting legislation is limited to tribal gaming establishments.
Each state that chooses to authorize sports betting operators have an established gaming commission in order to ensure that the betting regulations that were put in place during the legislative sessions are in compliance with state and federal laws.
Which States Offer Legal Online Sports Betting?
Although sports betting is now legal in many states, far fewer have realistically set up provisions or given out licenses to authorize sports betting online and mobile sports books, but more are on the way.
These are the states that currently offer viable online and mobile betting platforms where you can place mobile wagers.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
Which States Are Likely to Legalize Online/Mobile Sports Betting?
Virginia is perhaps the most likely to soon see mobile sports betting with the passage of a bill intended to do just that having recently passed the lower chambers in the state legislature. With this momentum behind the bill, it appears only a matter of time before it becomes law.
Maryland also has multiple bills in the tubes aiming towards bringing online sports betting to the state.
The pressure is on New York to allow and regulate online and mobile betting with more and more New Yorkers making the trip to nearby New Jersey in order to place legal bets, legislators are left watching in-state money moving to New Jersey state coffers.
The pressure is so great that energy appears to be gathering to push a single bill that would allow the issuing of mobile betting licenses in the state.
Other states as well have similar legislation moving towards the direction of online sports betting, but the momentum isn’t as great as their New England cousins. These states include Nebraska, Connecticut, and Wyoming.
There’s also a long list of states that have expressed interest in legalizing sports betting either through proposed legislation or politicians backing a local sports betting bill.
These include Ohio, California, Montana, South Carolina, California, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Kentucky.
But when it comes to the passage of a sports betting bill during legislative sessions anything can happen with bills to legalize sports gambling being approved or rebuffed suddenly during the 11th hour. So be sure to check in from time to time to the status of online gambling and betting regulations in your state.
Which States Are Unlikely to Legalize Online Sports Betting?
The only state we believe to be TRULY unlikely to ever legalize sports betting is Utah. The state’s strict Mormon population has always taken an extremely tough stance on gambling and we don’t predict that will change any time soon as long as they have a majority in the state legislature where they account for nearly 90 percent of representatives.
Other states that have no indications whatsoever towards legal sports betting are Hawaii and Alaska. Politics in these two states that are not a part of the continental US are less influenced by nearby states (or lack thereof) and therefore are not pressured by watching their tax revenue seep away to nearby states such as the relationship between New York and New Jersey. This has created an isolated environment where sports betting is not such an immediate issue.
Other states that have barriers to legalization include South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, and Wyoming. But even these states are projected to eventually adopt sports betting legislations, albeit in the semi-distant future.
What Sports Can You Bet on Online in the USA?
It depends which state you’re in but generally, if a state has allowed legal sports betting, you can bet on all professional sports and most college sports. With exclusions generally being put on sports where competitors (or a majority of competitors) are under the age of eighteen.
Popular sports to bet on include:
- College basketball
- College football
- Horse betting
- LOL (League of Legends eSports)
- EL (Euro League Fantasy Basketball)
Some states also have provisions for betting on e-sports but it’s not common for sports books to offer those bets.
Is Betting on Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in the USA?
Wagering real money on Fantasy Sports is legal in the majority of US states. The fact that playing fantasy sports is legal and traditional sports betting is illegal boils down to a distinction made in the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006.
The UIGEA makes a specific exception for fantasy games where the outcome relies on the player’s understanding of stats and other information instead of on chance.
The distinction between skill in fantasy sports and in traditional sports betting is confusing at best and it was put to the test in the 2007 New Jersey District Court case Humphrey vs. Viacom Inc. The court found in favor of fantasy sports being a game of skill and therefore exempt from anti-gambling laws.
Real money fantasy sports betting is now available in every US state in some form except Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii.
History of Online Sports Betting in the USA
While the history of online sports betting in the US technically didn’t begin until the advent of the internet and online sports books, the factors that set the stage for it began more than 150 years ago.
Let’s take a closer look at the major developments in US sports betting and gambling law and how it layed the groundwork for the revolutionary changes we’re seeing right now.
1860: All Forms of Gambling Banned in the US
Following the revolutionary war, gambling had developed a bad reputation and was beginning to be associated with vice and corruption. In 1860 the US federal government banned almost all forms of gambling that involved a bettor making a cash wager with a bookmaker or casino, including betting on sports.
Interestingly, betting on horse-racing was not included in the ban. This ban further encouraged the negative public opinion of gambling and it also inspired organized crime and other shady elements to offer gambling services illegally.
1867-1890: Horse Race Betting Legalized
In 1867 horse racing was officially licensed and regulated at the state level. It was also the first year horses raced at the Belmont Stakes. The Preakness Stakes started not long after in 1873 and the Kentucky Derby kicked off in 1875.
By 1890 there were over 300 racetracks spread throughout the country, clearly showing Americans’ love of betting on sporting contests.
1910: All Gambling Banned Again
As the 20th century began basically all forms of gambling had been deemed illegal once again, including lotteries. By 1911 less than 30 racetracks remained and organized crime had solidified its position as the main option for gambling and sports betting.
1931: New Deal Legalizes Gambling in Nevada
Following the Great Depression, the United States was in desperate need of revenue. To help accomplish key elements of his New Deal, namely the Hoover Dam, FDR legalized gambling in Nevada.
1949: First Legal Sportsbook Opens in Las Vegas
The first legal bookmakers opened their doors in Las Vegas in 1949 and were given permission to accept bets on all pro sports including horse racing. The sports books were called Turf Clubs and operated independently of Vegas casinos.
This was a big moment in sports betting history because it was the first time people could legally bet on events like horse racing without physically being at the racetrack.
1951: 10% Tax Levied on Sports Books
The sports betting industry took a bit hit in 1951 when the US federal government introduced a 10% tax on all sportsbooks’ gross revenue. It ultimately proved unmanageable for bookmakers and drove many of them out of business completely. This was another factor that led to more illegal sports books run by organized crime groups.
1961: The Wire Act
Because organized crime had developed sports betting into such a profitable business, JFK tried to come up with new tools for law enforcement to use to combat the problem.
The Wire Act made it illegal for anyone to use wire communication like phones and telegrams to pass on information pertaining to sports betting.
1974: Federal Government Cancels 10% Tax
In 1974 the 10% tax that was choking out legal sports books in Nevada was rescinded. Nevada Senator Howard Cannon was responsible for the move, arguing that by reducing the tax to 2%, so many sports books would open up that the federal government would make more money than they did with 10% tax. It worked, allowing sports betting led to a flourish of betting operators in Las Vegas.
1975: First Sportsbook in a Vegas Casino
Three quarters of the way into the 20th century the first sportsbook was opened inside a casino at the Stardust which was run by Frank Rosenthal. Rosenthal is said to be the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s iconic film Casino.
1979: First Casino on Native American Reservation
The Seminole Tribe in Florida was the first indigenous group in America to open a casino and even though they didn’t feature sports betting right away, it would prove to be a pivotal step towards widespread sports betting to come.
1992: Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)
By far the biggest blow to US sports betting, PASPA made it illegal to bet on any professional or amateur sports whatsoever.
There were exceptions: All gambling in Nevada was still permitted, as was betting on jai alai, dog racing and some special sports lotteries operating in Delaware, Oregon and Montana.
1996: First Online Sports Bet
Probably the single biggest event in modern sports betting occurred when Jukka Honkavaara placed a $50 wager at Austrian-based internet sportsbook Intertops.
It was the first ever online sports betting wager. It gave US gamblers a way to sidestep the entire brick and mortar sportsbook system by betting online and it paved the way for what would become a multi-billion-dollar global industry.
2006: Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA)
Sports books and online casinos servicing Americans hit a big bump in the road in 2006 when the US government passed the UIGEA. While it didn’t make betting illegal for US citizens, it did make it illegal to accept any payments on behalf of an illegal online casino or sportsbook operating in America.
The UIGEA didn’t completely stop offshore sports betting sites from accepting US players but it did cause many of the reputable sites to pull out of America.
2018: Murphy vs. NCAA
Perhaps the biggest thing to happen to sports betting in the US in the last century, this landmark case between New Jersey and the NCAA has completely changed the outlook for sports gambling in America.
In May, 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey, saying that each state should have the authority to regulate sports betting within its own jurisdiction.
In a few short months many states including New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Mexico began accepting legal sports bets in land-based casinos and online.
2020: State by State Betting is Legal
The inevitable march of sports betting legislation reforms across the country from state-to-state means that it is only a matter of time until your representatives legalize sports gambling near you (unless you’re in Utah, sorry).
After sports betting is legalized the next step is to approve sports betting online and mobile app betting. Many mobile sportsbooks are prepped and ready to move into states that legalize including DraftKings sportsbook, William Hill sportsbook, and many others. Check our sportsbook review pages to see the availability of promo codes and other offers.
How to Make Sure You’re Betting on Sports Online Legally
The best way to guarantee that your sports wagers are 100% legal is to visit our comprehensive guide for your home state. We update our guides regularly as more and more states legalize sports gambling so you’ll always get the most up to date information.
In addition to getting a clear picture of your state’s legal situation around sports betting, if it is legal, we’ll recommend the best sites to sign up and bet with.
WSN.com does not recommend betting with unlicensed offshore sports books so if a sports betting site is listed here you can rest assured it’s licensed and legal in the United States.
Online Sports Betting Bonuses and Promotions in the USA
Competition in the sports betting world is fierce and with the US market gradually opening up sportsbooks are desperate to get a strong foothold as the market matures.
One of the ways in which they do this is to offer attractive bonuses and promotions to new customers in order to entice them to their site. These offers can be very lucrative for bettors, so if you are on the lookout for an online sportsbook to join make sure you are taking advantage of them.
There are various types of bonuses that sportsbooks typically offer. Some of the most common ones:
- Free Bet Bonus
- Risk Free Bet
- Money Back Bonus
- Sign Up / Deposit Bonus
- No Deposit Bonus
- Reload Bonus
- Enhanced Odds
For more information check out our complete guide to sports betting bonuses which contains everything you need to know about sportsbook promotions.
We have also created bonus guides for individual states to make sure you never miss an offer in your area. Take a look below.
Is There No Deposit Sports Betting in the USA?
No deposit bonuses are special promotions where online sports books will give you free funds or free bets with no deposit necessary.
While they are rare, they do exist and when you find one it’s an awesome opportunity since there’s literally no risk.
Most of the time no deposit bonuses come with restrictions that only allow you to withdraw the profit you make from the bet, and not the actual free betting stake that’s given to you.
Terms and conditions for bonuses vary from site to site so make sure to read the fine print to understand exactly what restrictions are in place.
Use Our State by State Guides and Get Ready for Legal US Sports Betting
The Supreme Court decision in Murphy vs. NCAA was an absolute game-changer for sports gambling in the United States.
With a handful of states already offering legal sports betting and tons more poised to get on board, there’s never been a better time to be a sports fan in the US.
Use this page and our state by state sports betting guides to stay up to date on the latest developments where you live. If your state doesn’t offer legal sports betting yet, get a head start on your homework by studying our sports betting strategy guides.
It won’t be long before you can put that knowledge to work making legal bets.