Is sports betting legal in the USA?
Until May 2018, betting on sports in the USA was basically restricted to placing a bet in person at a sportsbook in Nevada. That all changed when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), also known as the Bradley Act, was struck down by the Supreme Court. Now that PASPA is dead, each state has the power to set its own legislation for online and in-person sports betting.
Laws and rules surrounding sports betting vary from state to state. New Jersey, for example, moved extremely fast and passed a law to allow legal sports betting online and in person in June 2018. West Virginia and Pennsylvania currently allow in-person betting but not online. Other states, like California and New York, have yet to legalize sports wagering.
How do you bet on sports legally in the USA?
Sports betting in the United States is governed on a state-by-state basis, meaning that you have to either live in or travel to a state that has legalized sports betting in order to bet on sports legally (see map below). Once you’ve entered a state where sports gambling is legal, it’s time to find a legal sportsbook, either online or by visiting a brick-and-mortar location (and again, this will vary state-by-state).
Where can I bet on sports in the United States?
Where is sports betting legal in the USA?
Not much has changed in Nevada post-PASPA. Bettors can place wagers in person at one of the many sportsbooks around the state. Most sportsbooks do offer mobile wagering within state limits but online accounts must be registered, verified, and funded in person at the sportsbooks.
New Jersey became one of the first states to change its law post-PASPA in June 2018. Bettors can now place wagers on sports at a number of brick-and-mortar sportsbooks as well as through online apps as long as you’re within state limits.
West Virginia began offering legal sports betting in August 2018 and is now available at sportsbooks in a few casinos. In late December 2018, online wagering became available through the BetLucky app, and other major players are expected to be online soon.
The Keystone State launched sports betting in November 2018 and currently has five sportsbooks across the state. Online betting isn’t an option just yet but that could happen as early as 2019.
Mississippi flipped the switch and started accepting single-game wagering on sports in August 2018. Sports betting, like all gambling in the state, is currently restricted to land- and water-based casinos. The law does permit mobile sports betting on casino property, though it isn’t currently offered.
Delaware moved quickly post-PASPA and started accepting sports betting at its three casinos on June 5. The current law allows for online and mobile wagering, though it currently isn’t offered.
Rhode Island began accepting sports bets in late November 2018 at the Twin River Casino and then in December 2018 at the Twin River Tiverton Casino. The legal age for betting on sports in Rhode Island is 18, whereas its 21 in most other states. Online sports betting is legal as of March 25, 2019, but is not yet available.
New Mexico took its first sports bet in October 2018 at the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel. No new law has been passed, but after PASPA, sports betting is allowed because a gaming compact that the casino has with the state. Sports betting is still illegal online and elsewhere in the state.
What other states will legalize sports betting soon?
Sports betting should be legal in a few more states in 2019 and plenty more are expected to roll out new legislation in the coming years.
Voters in Arkansas are to thank for sports betting legalization as they voted to approve a constitutional amendment at the midterm elections in November 2018. The Arkansas Racing Commission now has to start accepting applications for legal sports betting before June 1, 2019.
Connecticut, along with New York, had a state-level law in place in 2017 in advance of the legalization by the federal government. Sports betting did not become a reality in 2018 but there is hope for 2019 as a new bill appeared in March that would legalize sports betting.
Sports betting is officially legal in Iowa after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed bill SF 617 into law on May 13, 2019. Iowa is looking at summer 2019 for the launch of sports betting. The new law will allow for both retail and mobile wagering, though mobile accounts will need in-person registration through the end of 2020.
Indiana has moved quickly in 2019 to make legalized sports betting a reality and on February 26 the state Senate passed a gaming bill (SB 552) that would include sports gambling. The bill moved through the House in late April and received Gov. Eric Holcomb's signature on May 8, meaning that legalized sports betting in Indiana is on its way.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced plans to legalize sports betting in the state when he introduced a bill to the state’s legislature in mid-January, 2019. Baker’s bill, or one of the four others that were introduced in mid-January, is expected to pass, meaning legalized sports betting in Massachusetts should be coming soon.
It looked as it online sports betting was to become a reality in Michigan when lawmakers passed a bill in late December 2018 that would legalize it. A few days later, however, and just three days before leaving office, Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the bill. Lawmakers will continue to try to legalize it but it will likely be 2021 before online sports betting is allowed in Michigan.
Montana became the ninth state in the country — and first in 2019 — to legalize sports betting when Gov. Steve Bullock signed a bill on May 3. The state lottery will oversee sports betting which will be administered through kiosks and mobile apps. The state hopes to launch sports betting by the fall of 2019.
New York is another state that had a state law that legalized sports betting on the books before PASPA fell in May 2018. Back in 2013, New York voted to allow the construction of four new casinos that would also accept sports wagers. The Supreme Court’s decision last May triggered legalized sports betting in New York, but little has changed to action sports betting at those four casinos. New York is a confusing situation but hopefully, we’ll have some clarity in early 2019.
Oregon already has a law in place that allows some forms of sports betting and actually used to offer a football parlay card through its state lottery, though that ended about 10 years ago. The state plans to roll out single-game sports wagering through the state lottery and reports are that it could be in place by the start of the 2019 NFL season.
Tennesse was a bit of a surprise when, in late April, its legislature became the fourth US state to pass a single-game sports wagering bill in 2019. The bill now sits on Gov. Bill Lee's desk and reports from The Tennessean state that he plans to let the bill lapse into law without a signature. Sports betting in Tennessee will be unique in that it will be online only and there won't be any brick-and-mortar locations.
The nation’s capital joined the sports betting scene in late 2018, passing a law that will allow its lottery to administer legalized sports betting. There are no plans for casinos and the big-name apps won’t be available within the jurisdiction, but there will be an online app available, as well as brick-and-mortar locations run by the DC Lottery. Expectations are for it to be live by September 2019.
Sports Betting FAQs
How do you bet on sports?
There are many different ways to bet on sports. The most common ways are usually betting on the moneyline (who will win the game), the spread (which team will win or not lose by a predetermined margin of points), and the total (whether or not the total amount of points will be Over or Under a predetermined total). Learn more about sports betting basics and strategies in our How to Bet section.
Is sports betting legal in Europe?
Sports betting is governed on a country-by-country basis in Europe. Online sports betting is legal in many European countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Spain, and Russia.
Is sports betting legal in Canada?
Generally speaking, yes. Canadians can place sports bets via their provincial lotteries and can also place wagers with offshore sportsbooks who operate in a legal gray area in Canada.
Are online betting sites and apps safe?
For the most part, online betting sites are safe. To ensure you are protected, be sure to place your wagers with a legal sportsbook in the USA as these are heavily regulated by governmental authorities.
What are offshore sports betting apps and sites?
Offshore sports betting apps and sites refer to online sportsbooks that operate outside of the USA. Betting at one of these sites while in the United States is illegal. Check out Covers' sportsbook review page for a list of legal sportsbooks in the USA.