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 is dedicated ONLY to 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, payment processing, 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.
Is Sports Betting Legal in the United States?
Sports betting is legal in states that have passed legislation regulating the activity. Nevada has had legal sports betting for decades, but federal laws prevented other states from joining the party until recently.
In May of 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a longstanding law that prohibited state legislatures from authorizing or regulating sports betting. The law in question was called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (a.k.a. PASPA or the Bradley Act).
PASPA was designed to prevent the spread of sports betting due to concerns related to problem gambling and sports integrity. The law included exemptions for state laws that were already in place at the time it took effect. Nevada was the only state at the time that had normal, single-game sports betting and thus received an exemption from PASPA. This is why Nevada stood as the only state with true sports betting for so long.
Delaware, Montana and Oregon also had limited forms of sports betting managed by their state lotteries. These “sports lotteries” only allowed customers to place limited types of parlay-style wagers on specific leagues and were limited in scope.
New Jersey challenged PASPA in court and framed its argument as a states’ rights issue. Multiple appeals courts ruled against New Jersey’s attempts to decriminalize sports betting, but New Jersey appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey and declared PASPA unconstitutional as written. The Supreme Court decision found PASPA to be a clear case of violating the anticommandeering doctrine of the 10th Amendment.
The Supreme Court’s decision has wide-ranging implications that go well beyond the borders of New Jersey. With PASPA now dead in the water, every state in the USA is now free to legalize and regulate sports betting if it wishes.
Some of the bigger anti-gambling states such as Utah and Hawaii are unlikely to take advantage of this newfound freedom in the near future, but many other states are already working to pass legislation that will allow their residents to bet on sports online and in the real world with licensed providers.
Some states are moving quickly and we will keep you up to date with the latest news and on our state-by-state pages here. Wherever you live, you can visit our state pages for an update on the legal situation as well as to see recommendations of legal betting sites, online casinos and more.
Horse and Dog Track Racing Betting Is Legal In Many States
Online horse racing betting is legal in most states and has been for a long time thanks to exemptions written into federal law. Legal horse and greyhound betting 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 – 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.
For those of you in states where it is not yet legal to play online, all we can say is be patient. We cannot 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 – 4 States and Counting
Nevada was the first state with legal online poker in the USA, followed by Delaware and what currently appears to be the biggest developing market, New Jersey. Pennsylvania became the fourth state after it legalized online poker along with other forms of gaming in late 2017.
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 challenge facing US poker sites is one of numbers, but that too is getting better as more states legalize online poker. In the first few years of legal online poker, operators in each state were only allowed to host tables for players within state borders. This put an upper limit on player traffic, which in turn led to fewer cash games and smaller tournaments.
That challenge is slowly being overcome. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, for example, signed a player sharing agreement in 2017 that allows poker sites with a presence in two or more states to combine tables for everyone. This is creating bigger player pools to draw from, which means higher player traffic, more tables and bigger tournaments.
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 legal online lottery sites 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 online skill games have been exempted by most laws dealing with 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.
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 through 2018 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.