Where is Online Sports Betting Legal?
America has a complicated history with online gambling. While once thought to be a country that stood against the pastime of placing wagers, as time has gone on and appetite for digital gambling has increased, the US online gambling industry has gathered pace.
Laws around gambling in the US are changing all of the time. As of 2020, there are no federal rules in place deeming online gambling illegal in the country. This means the US Government has given each state the autonomy to create its own laws and regulations around online gambling. But, it is not as straightforward as that. According to the Federal Wire Act of 1961, no online gambling activity can take place across state lines. This means if you are located in one state, you cannot gamble on a website from another.
The turning point...
In May 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act of '92 (PASPA); an old federal law that deemed sports betting illegal in America. Having an immediate impact, it was at this point where the floodgates opened, seeing New Jersey make the first move and offer single-game sports betting almost immediately.
While the relaxation of online gambling restrictions was welcomed by the industry, at the time, sporting leagues and competitions opposed the ruling. Organizations such as NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and NCAA believed permitting online gambling on their sports would harm the integrity of their games and their players. But, behind closed doors, many high-ranking sports figures and business owners had shown interest in forming deals with gambling brands, understanding the profitability of embracing change and getting on board with online sports betting.
States where online sports betting has been legalized
Below, we look at the top states leading the way in online sports betting in the US:
New Jersey – As mentioned, New Jersey lawmakers are arguably responsible for the expansion of US gambling. Being the first state to welcome online gambling businesses, it has the largest market share of the regulated online gambling industry. According to market analysis, the New Jersey gambling industry is valued at an eye-watering $225 million a year. DraftKings Sportsbook was the first online betting platform to enter the state, coming online just a few months after New Jersey overturned PASPA. Shortly after, big names such as William Hill Sportsbook and Fanduel Sportsbook entered the Garden State, creating additional online betting products and a heightened level of competition amongst operators. Since the offering of online betting in New Jersey has expanded so rapidly, the huge array of sign up offers and free bets has become truly impressive, making New Jersey one of the most competitive states for online betting promotions.
Pennsylvania – Online sports betting came to Pennsylvania in May of 2019. Being one of the US’ most populous states, its explosion into the industry marked hugely exciting times for the overall gambling community. The first sportsbook to enter The Keystone State was PlaySugarHouse. They were later joined by the likes of BetRivers, William Hill Sportsbook, Unibet and Parx. Pennsylvania’s online sports betting brands are propped up by several retail sportsbooks, propelling the state’s gambling income into hundreds of millions.
Nevada – Nevada is another state that has a long history of involvement in the online betting industry, being a huge campaigner for change in the lead up to the Supreme Court ruling. With more than 20 years of offering betting via various land-based and online gambling products, Nevada is thought of as a true leader in the world of US gambling. Some of the biggest brands operating in the Silver State include B-Connected, Westgate Superbook and William Hill Sportsbook.
Oregon – Oregon is celebrated for being the first state in the Pacific Northwest to get on board with the online betting movement. According to sources, The Chinook Winds Casino hosted the first legal sports bet in the state which took place in 2019. Shortly after, the Beaver State agreed for The Oregon Lottery Scoreboard to operate in its state lines, giving bettors of the state an extensive sportsbook with a long list of free bet promotions to claim.
Montana - Online sports betting launched in March 2020 after Governor Steve Bullock signed his name on the bill. However, mobile betting is still relatively restricted in Montana, with bettors only able to place online sports bets if at a lottery retailer or tavern that has been authorized by the state.
Indiana - The Hoosier State offers various online betting options to its ever-increasing number of bettors and has been doing so since October 2019. Placing online sports betting as a priority, the state claims to have no plans to roll out online casino or poker options in the near future.
Other states making waves in the industry over the past few months include West Virginia, Iowa, Delaware, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island and Michigan.
What sports can you bet on in the US?
The sports you can bet on in the US will be dependent on the state that you are located in and the sportsbook you are signed up to. As of a 2020 industry survey, the most popular bets to wager on involved the following sports:
- College sports
- Winter sports
States with strict rules on online sports betting
While we have covered the states embracing the change in online gambling laws, there are many that are yet to join the online gambling revolution.
Currently, there has been no movement in online betting in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
That said, the rapid nature of the industry and the pace in which betting sites launch, you never know what’s around the corner!