Welcome to BettingUSA.com – your informative guide to what’s happening in the regulated internet gambling market in the United States. Before we begin, our editors would like to stress this site ONLY lists information about wagering activities that are licensed, regulated, and taxed on a state by state basis. Many websites promote “offshore” or outright illegal options, and our team feels it’s important to point out the difference.
Online gambling is a complicated and politicized issue in America. Each state in the union has a different approach to dealing with the market, and what’s accessible in one state may not be the same in another. It’s best to check our regional specific guides for current information on what you can play where you reside. Posters at 2p2 are updating a thread tracking bills progression and state by state pending legislation.
Licensed US betting sites block registrations from restricted states to comply with varying gaming laws. The following trusted betting sites have the most widespread availability, we recommend that you start with these sites if you’re interested in testing your skills today.
Which states have legal online betting for US residents? The chart below lists which states allow online betting, categorized by market. Our individual state pages below list recommendations specifically tailored to residents of each state.
Legal US Betting Site Reviews
We’re in the process of writing reviews of all the major US legal betting sites. It seems more sites are opening every day thanks to favorable legislation and growing interest in licensed gambling options. See our brand-spanking-new list of betting site reviews here.
The purpose of these reviews is to give you an unbiased look at what each site has to offer in terms of gambling options and overall quality. We’re happy to report that licensed betting sites are obligated by law to provide a certain basic level of quality for customers. Licensed operators are required to segregate player funds and abide by strict regulations pertaining to payout odds, randomness and transparency.
One of the advantages you get with doing business at legal betting sites is that they all operate on US soil. If an operator got the brilliant idea to run off with player funds, he would be in a whole heap of criminal and civil trouble. This is a far cry from the situation we have in the unregulated offshore industry where operators come and go and often make up the rules as they go.
Having said that, we realize that not all betting sites are perfect for all players. You’ll find our reviews are accurate and free from bias. What you won’t find here is a bunch of “reviews” that read more like sales copy. Our only goal is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Will Sports Betting ever be Regulated in the United States?
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (aka PASPA or the “Bradley Act”) limits sports betting to just a few states: Oregon, Delaware, Montana, and Nevada. New Jersey is currently in the process of challenging this as a states’ rights issue. Other states are hoping to repeal it outright. Right now the only place in the USA you can legally bet on sports online is in Nevada, using a mobile option provided by land based sportsbooks. Delaware allows football parlay cards for NFL, but not online (yet). A few other states are attempting to change that, but it’s a developing story.
However, a popular alternative in real money fantasy leagues is much more widely available at sites like FanDuel.com and DraftKings.com, legal in all states except Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and Vermont due to a specific exemption from the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (aka the UIGEA). These sites operate like any season long fantasy league, except they last only one day and are for real money stakes.
Out of all conceivable forms of internet gambling, full-fledged online sports betting is the biggest longshot in achieving legal status in the United States. There are two things working against legalized internet sports wagering: the afore-mentioned Bradley Act and the Wire Act. Both pieces of legislation would have to be significantly altered or repealed altogether for any progress to be made on that front.
New Jersey is currently putting up a good fight against PASPA and may even one day succeed in turning PASPA into a state-by-state issue. The next step would be to repeal the Wire Act in its entirety. The Wire Act specifically criminalizes the use of “wire communication” to transmit sports betting information.
The Wire Act will be a formidable obstacle to legalization for some time to come. On a more positive note, not even the mighty Wire Act is free from all manipulation. In 2011, the Department of Justice issued a legal opinion stating that it has changed its interpretation of the Wire Act to only apply to sports betting. In fact, it is this change in interpretation made it possible for individual states to authorize real money online poker and casino games.
Horse and Dog Track Racing Betting Is Legal In Many States
Online horse racing betting is available in most states, also thanks to an exemption from the UIGEA. Legal horse and greyhound sites work in conjunction with hundreds of local tracks to bring all the same wagers that people place in person to you at home. Every bet placed online at a licensed track is pooled with the wagers taken at the track. Not only is this convenient for all of us, but it is also partially responsible for keeping the racing industry alive.
The brands we recommend include TwinSpires, BetAmerica (the only site where you can bet on greyhounds), and TVG. Fans can wager and live stream races similar to the experience found at off track betting sites. Each of these sites is licensed and regulated by one or more state racing commissions.
Casino Games - Only Legal in NJ, PA and DE
New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware are the only US states where actual online casino gambling is completely legal. A plethora of other states are considering legislation that may legalize some popular formats. The regulated market is developing rapidly, but legislation takes time and is often a complex issue depending on what part of the country you live in. Soon we will add reviews and comparisons of US licensed online casinos.
For those of you in states where it is not yet legal to play online, all we can say is be patient. We can’t honestly recommend playing at any of the offshore options unless you purely enjoy the entertainment of it and just play for small amounts. We have seen too many examples of player funds not kept safe, and too many winners go unpaid over the years.
As we wait patiently for more states to come on board, we can look at New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware as an indication of things to come. In all three states, online gaming has proven profitable and able to be effectively regulated.
It’s a small sample size, but 100% of all states that have legalized online casino games have restricted the business to existing brick-and-mortar casinos. We’ve also seen that states are capable of ensuring fair games, preventing underage gambling and ensuring the casino sites are only available to residents.
Online Poker - 3 States and Counting
Nevada was the first US state where online poker is legal, followed by Delaware and what currently appears to be the biggest developing market, New Jersey. Although legislative action is pending in numerous other states, nothing is concrete and we don’t like making predictions – politics in America never fails to surprise.
What’s clear is players in regulated states are now playing at safe and secure options, tax revenue is being generated, and companies who comply with local laws and regulations are finally getting a chance to enter the market.
The biggest challenging facing poker operators is one of numbers. So far, operators in each state are only allowed to host games for players within state borders. This makes for low-traffic poker sites with limited numbers of tables and smaller tournaments. Traffic isn’t downright terrible by any means, but there’s obviously still room for a lot of growth.
There is some good news on that front though. Existing legislation and most proposed bills that we’ve seen allow for player-sharing agreements between states. Delaware and Nevada are very close to formalizing just such an agreement. Multi-state player pools would lift the restrictions that keep players separated by geography. If you live in Nevada, for example, you wouldn’t just be seated with other people from Nevada. You would also see people from Delaware and other states as they come on board.
Lotteries are Online in Several US States
A few US states allow lottery tickets to be sold online and more are expected to embrace the idea in coming years as a natural progression from the convenience store into the home. Usually online lottery sales are offered as “subscriptions” instead of individual tickets, but Illinois and other states are changing that. Minnesota recently became the first state in the union to offer online sales of instant scratch tickets.
Opposition to online lottery sales is fierce among anti-gambling groups and convenience store retailers. Anti-gambling groups feel that the lottery preys upon the poor while convenience store owners will surely miss the walk-in traffic generated by lottery tickets.
Unfortunately for both groups, it appears politicians fear the backlash from raising taxes more than the backlash from authorizing online ticket sales. In an age where reducing spending simply isn’t an option for the majority of those in office, new sources of tax revenue (without actually raising taxes) is always attractive. We’ll probably see more states join the online lottery bandwagon over the next few years.
Peer To Peer Skill Games
Chess, Dominoes, and other skill games have been exempted by laws prohibiting online betting in the USA. A few sites offer these games, such as the Game Show Networks’ WorldWinner.com . Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the general concept of playing skill games for money.
The upside of skill games is that the luck factor is eliminated in favor of the skill factor. How well you play is the only thing that determines your results. The better you play, the more you make.
That's also the downside. It’s hard to keep fish in the game when they get destroyed every time. A little luck gives the unskilled a reason to keep trying. When you remove luck from the equation entirely, you’re left with a smaller, more skilled player base.
Pari-mutuel Betting (horse racing, greyhounds, jai alai)
Parimutuel betting is the preferred wagering format for horse racing, greyhound racing and jai alai. What makes parimutuel different than traditional sports betting is that all bets of each type are pooled together, the house takes a cut and then payouts are divvied out to the winners. Thus, it is the betting public that determines the odds for each wager and not some bookmaker.
Greyhound and horse racing are the only two forms of parimutuel wagering that you’ll find online in the United States. The sport of jai alai was once a major parimutuel betting activity, but that sport is on its last legs and isn’t available for online wagering.
Is Regulated Online Gambling In The USA A Positive Thing?
We believe so, yes. People are going to gamble online no matter what the law says; that much is evident. Players should have access to a secure, fair environment and governments should have the opportunity to benefit from the tax revenue.
Besides, shouldn’t you have the right to spend your money how you choose in the privacy of your own home? We definitely think so. The government doesn’t need to legislate morality. Americans are more than capable of deciding for themselves what is right.
In any case, we look forward to watching the continued growth and maturity of the developing industry throughout 2017 and beyond.
What About The Negatives?
The obvious downside is the fact that those with addictive personalities now have unprecedented access, and that could lead to more negatives within society. Our editorial opinion is that it will happen one way or another thanks to offshore operations. We can either face the problem head-on or continue to act like it isn’t there.
Problem gambling is a concern but as we all know, people can already bet online as it is. Legalization would make it easier for problem gamblers to get help and would divert funds to gambling addiction treatment. For example, New Jersey has a statewide gambling exclusion list that anyone can join online to be banned from all online betting sites.
Don’t Believe Most Of What You Read
As mentioned before, many portals promote the concept that online betting with offshore bookies isn’t illegal. The DOJ has made it pretty clear in the billion dollars or more they have seized in players funds in the last few years. It’s unclear if the mere act of placing a bet at an unlicensed site is illegal, but it’s definitely not a sound financial decision to make.
For your safety, be skeptical of any portal recommending these options. It’s better to collect information via mainstream media as real companies won’t take the risk of promoting legally-questionable overseas betting sites.