Legal Betting Arrives in the US – One State at a Time
Supreme Court decision in May 2018 struck down PASPA (The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, set in 1992), which lifted the federal ban on sports betting. Now, the floodgates are open, and states can decide themselves whether to allow legal sports betting.
Some states have been more progressive than others on sports betting legalization, while roughly half of the states in the country are still lobbying for the start of legalized sports betting.
New Jersey the First Mover in 2018
New Jersey was the first state to allow retail and online sports betting, as Governor Phil Murphy signed NJ’s sports betting state into law in June 2018, only a month after sports gambling was legalized on a federal level. The first sports wager in New Jersey was placed in June. Also, Delaware got on board in July by offering single-game retail betting.
West Virginia followed suit in August 2018 by opening a retail betting location at Hollywood Casino Charles Town. It did take a good year for them to get their online offering viable, and now you have DraftKings Sportsbook, BetMGM and FanDuel Sportsbook to choose from in the Mountain State.
Mississippi and Arkansas were two other states to legalize already in 2018. However, they only allowed for retail betting and haven’t yet touched on allowing mobile betting apps.
12 More Legal States in 2021
- New Hampshire (online & retail)
- Pennsylvania (online & retail)
- Tennessee (online only)
- Oregon (online & retail)
- Rhode Island (online & retail)
- Indiana (online & retail)
- Iowa (online & retail)
- New York (retail)
- Illinois (online launched 2020)
- Colorado (online launched 2020)
- Michigan (launched in 2021)
- Virginia (launched in 2021)
Pennsylvania was the most advanced of the new states joining the legal betting ranks. They legalized online betting, retail betting, and even online casino as they were on the gambling topic already.
States like Rhode Island and Iowa weren’t quite as advanced in their legislation. To bet online, you have to register in-person at a retail sportsbook before you can place your bets online.
In Oregon and New Hampshire, you’ve just got one option. In Oregon, you can place your bets online through Oregon Lottery’s Scoreboard app. In New Hampshire, DraftKings Sportsbook app owns the monopoly in betting online in Granite State.
What to Expect in 2020?
We’re going to see a couple of big states that already approved their bills in 2019 get their sports gambling in retail and online: Michigan, Colorado, Virginia and Illinois. Of the four, Colorado has already opened on 1st of May and Illinois on 18th of June. The Ohio Senate will also discuss legal Ohio sports betting in late 2020.
Smaller states like Montana and Washington D.C. are both opening retail and online betting. Montana got a head start early 2020, but their launch was watered down by the global health crisis. The global crisis also delayed D.C.’s betting launch as there weren’t any sports to bet on.
Tennessee is a state with a unique approach: They only allow online sports betting with no retail at all.
Legal States to Bet Online
Governor Phil Murphy’s signature allowed online betting in New Jersey right after it was legalized in June 2019. Now the Garden State’s got the biggest selection of betting sites and bonuses. The only problem is that you can’t bet on instate college sports. New sportsbooks like Tipico are constantly launching in the state.
Read more about New Jersey betting sites & bonuses
You can bet online in the great state of Pennsylvania at multiple bookies like DraftKings Sportsbook and BetRivers. The highly anticipated Barstool Sportsbook is exclusive to Pennsylvania.
Read more about Pennsylvania betting sites & bonuses
The Hoosier State is no stranger to betting online and offline. You can bet at half a dozen online sportsbooks, or go to a casino like French Lick to get some action at BetRivers sports bar.
Read more about Indiana betting sites & bonuses
West Virginia sports betting opened in 2019 and had a failed run of opening their mobile betting process. Now those problems are long gone, and you can get in on the action online, too.
Read more about West Virginia betting sites & bonuses
Colorado launched their online betting on May 1st. Physically you can place your bets at three different areas.
Read more about Colorado betting sites & bonuses
Illinois launched their online sports betting on June 18th with BetRivers the first mobile sportsbook available with the daily fantasy sports giants DraftKings and Fanduel close on their heels.
Read more about Illinois betting sites & bonuses
Iowans need to register physically at a retail sportsbook before they can start betting online, however Iowas sports betting market is quickly growing and the situation might change. PointsBet is one of the biggest operators in Iowa.
In New Hampshire, you can bet on your DraftKings Sportsbook app. Retail locations will follow in 2020 in 5 cities, including Laconia and Somersworth.
Rhode Island requires online sports bettors to register first at a physical counter. Then, you can place your bets online.
Oregon State Lottery runs Scoreboard app that’s the sole provider of online betting.
Sports betting in Michigan launched in March 2020 in physical locations. Online betting sites debuted on January 22nd 2021 with 9 sportsbooks opening at once. With 8,5 million inhabitants, Michigan betting will be huge.
Read more about Michigan betting sites & bonuses
Tennessee launched online sports betting on November 1st 2020, with BetMGM Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, and the local Action247 brand the first online sportsbooks to open. In Tennessee, there is no retail, only online betting.
Read more about Tennessee sports betting sites & bonuses
Virginia sports betting was legalized on April 20th 2020, and online sports betting apps launched in January 2021 with DraftKings, Fanduel, and BetMGM the first players to arrive on the scene.
States that will likely legalize sports betting in 2021 or 2022.
In addition to legal sports betting states, there are some who might legalize online betting in the next few years.
Ohio Sports Betting is not yet legal, but the legizlation will likely pass in 2021.
Arkansas Sports Betting only takes retail bets at the moment, but with the legalization of Tennessee betting market, this might change.
Governor Cuomo was always a strong advocate against New York Sports Betting, but with the state facing a large deficit, he’s done a 360 on his position. Online Sports Betting might pass sooner than expected.
- 🇺🇸 Is it legal to bet in California?
No, it's not. Online sports betting and retail sports betting are both illegal in California. 2024 looks to be the earliest occasion sports betting can go mobile in California, as the change in law would require a change in constitution. That's unlikely to happen before the 2024 ballot.
- 🇺🇸 Is betting legal in New York?
Yes, you can bet in retail locations uptown like Rivers Casino & Sportsbook but online betting is still a no-go. New York can turn things around faster than many other states because they don't need a constitutional change. New York might see legal online betting as early as 2021. However, Governor Andrew Cuomo still sees online gambling as "an irresponsible revenue source".
- 🇺🇸 How old do I need to be to bet legally?
In most states the legal betting age is 21, just like with alcohol. However, in 8 states allowing sports betting the legal betting age is 18+.
Here's the list for states with 18 age limit for the states that have already approved legal sports betting:
- Rhode Island
- New York
- Washington D.C.
- 🇺🇸 Do I have to live in a state where sports gambling is legal?
No, you only need to be physically within state lines. For example, you can cross state lines from Maryland to Pennsylvania, and you can place your bets at a legal PA bookie.