Welcome to our big collection of betting site reviews. It’s a work in progress at the moment but we plan to add many more sites over coming months and years. Our purpose here is to give you the real deal on legal betting sites that serve the United States.
When we say “legal,” we mean it in the strictest sense of the word. Believe it or not, some forms of online gambling are legal in the USA. Longstanding federal laws and recent legal actions have resulted in carve-outs that make it possible to operate certain types of gambling sites in certain states.
We’re still working out a plan for organizing this page in a way that makes the most sense. The thing about online betting in the USA is that each state has its own set of laws. Some types of sites are legal in some states but not legal in others. For now, we’re just throwing up reviews as we finish them.
You can see which sites are legal in which sites by either visiting the home page and choosing your state or by visiting any of the reviews below to see a list of states in which each betting site operates. In the meantime, we have our reviews arranged by the type of wagering they offer.
Online Horse Racing Betting
Off-track betting (OTB) was first legalized in 1978 with the passage of the Interstate Horseracing Act (full text PDF). The act made it legal for horse racing venues to accept wagers at off-track locations provided that all wagers taken at OTB locations went directly to the prize pools of the tracks actually hosting races. Back then, the Interstate Horseracing Act made no mention of the internet.
The act was amended by Congress in 2000 to specifically legalize wagers made over the telephone or “other electronic media.” This paved the way for the first US-legal horse betting sites to open for business. There are now a number of legitimate online racebooks that operate right here on US soil in full compliance of the law.
These sites cover hundreds of racetracks across the US and other parts of the world. Betting at any of these sites is the same as placing your wagers in person. You have access to all the same types of wagers and you get full payouts, but you don’t have to visit the track to place your bet. Best of all, your winnings can be sent straight to your bank account at the conclusion of the races.
Individual states still have the option to restrict online horseracing. A handful of states have taken this option and implement a complete ban on all online horse wagering. To further complicate matters, each state may opt to license some sites but not others. This is why sometimes you’ll find one site accepts customers from one state, but the next site does not. It all depends on who is licensed where.
States Where All Online Horse Racing Betting is Prohibited
|New Jersey||North Carolina||South Carolina||Utah||Virginia|
Fantasy Sports Sites
Fantasy sports betting is legal in the United States thanks to a piece of text that was included in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). In short, the exemption stated that online fantasy leagues are legal as long as they meet two key requirements:
- The outcome of a fantasy league is dependent upon more than one game
- Prizes are made known in advance and are not dependent upon fees or number of entries
This carve-out not only made season-long leagues legal, but also short term leagues as long as they cover 2 or more games. Daily fantasy leagues are now the most popular format because they allow players to draft new teams every day or week. Instead of being stuck with the same team all season long, you can now try different teams and players as the season progresses.
It’s starting to look like we’re in the midst of a boom period. Several dozen new sites have opened for business, millions of people have participated and revenue is growing year on year. The biggest fantasy sports sites are now hosting weekly tournaments with $1,000,000+ prize pools.
The fantasy sports industry is so new that individual states have no laws on the books that specifically mention online fantasy leagues. However, some state laws could possibly be interpreted to apply to all forms of online wagering. Most sites avoid the following five states as a cautionary measure to minimize legal exposure.
States Where Online Fantasy May Be Prohibited
Games of Skill
No federal law prohibits betting real money on games of skill. The only problem here is that it’s not always clear what is a game of skill and what isn’t. For example, many of us would consider poker a game of skill but the government begs to differ. On the other hand, chess is very clearly a game of skill as there is zero chance involved in the game.
The uncertain legal situation has limited the growth of this potential industry. Only a few sites are willing to face the legal risks associated with offering wagering on games of skill over the internet. The oldest and most well-known skill gaming site is WorldWinner.com.
State laws are notoriously unclear on the legality of online skill game betting. Most states appear to have no laws on the books that prohibit the activity, but it’s a big question mark in some states.
States Where Online Skill Game Betting May Be Prohibited
|Louisiana||Maryland||Montana||South Carolina||South Dakota|