Online Sports Betting in the USA

Sports and betting have always been intertwined, for better or worse. For as long as people have been competing against one another in athletic events, other people have been betting on the outcomes. Now that we are well into the internet age, online sports betting has established footholds around the world.

Online sports betting works in the same basic manner as betting at a casino or with a local bookie. The biggest difference is that with internet betting, you have way more options. You can place wagers on events that range from football to the Olympics and everything in between. You can bet on who will win a game, who will win a championship, how many points will be scored, how long the match will last and much more.

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There’s just one catch. Online sports betting isn’t legal in the United States. Individual bettors don’t necessarily get in trouble, but those who own sportsbooks face major legal problems if they get caught. For that reason, most sports betting takes place at offshore sportsbooks.

The problem with offshore sportsbooks is that they are not regulated or licensed by legally recognized entities in the United States. There are hundreds of horror stories out there about people who have been ripped off by shady offshore sportsbooks. When things go wrong at an offshore sportsbook, a customer in the United States has no legal recourse.

For that reason, we do not recommend offshore sportsbooks here at BettingUSA.com. There are too many instances of slow payouts, no payouts and even threats against people who win too much. It’s just not worth the trouble at this point to do business with offshore bookies.

The news isn’t all bad though. You can still bet on sports in the United States without joining illegal offshore sportsbooks. There are better options out there that you can use right now without having to worry about the legal implications.

Daily Fantasy Sports Contests Are Legal and Almost the Same as Betting

Fantasy sports betting is the next best thing to sports betting and it is completely legal in the United States. When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006, it specifically mentioned fantasy sports and gave fantasy sports betting an exemption to the law.

What this means for you is that you can play at legal, US-based fantasy betting sites for real money. There are no worries about running afoul of the law or being stiffed out of your money. Fantasy sites such as FanDuel.com are based out of the United States and are subject to the same laws as all other US-based businesses.

Daily fantasy sports work just like your typical fantasy league with one exception. Instead of picking a team and being stuck with that team all year long, your team only lasts for one day. You and other people at the website get a salary cap and can draft players how you see fit. At the end of the day, the person whose team has amassed the best stats wins the bet. Payouts happen that same day.

Learn more about fantasy sports betting over at our fantasy sports page.

Offline Sports Betting in the USA

For many years, Las Vegas was the only place you could legally bet on sports in the United States. That still holds true for the most part, but other states are looking to get in on the action. The tide is turning and we are starting to see changes in states that have long banned all sports betting.

You still won’t find a full-fledged sportsbook anywhere outside Vegas, but there are a few examples of this all beginning to change. In Delaware, for example, the state lottery has started offering NFL parlay bets at certain locations around the state. Sports betting in Delaware is limited specifically to NFL parlays, but even that little bit is a big development in the grand scheme of things.

Oregon and Montana also have a legal framework for limited sports betting, but there are no sports betting options right now in either of those states. This all goes back to the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which banned betting on any sports betting event, except in states in which sports betting was already legal (Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware).

Long story short: Nevada is the only state that has full-fledged legal sports betting at this time. Delaware has limited NFL parlay betting and all other states do not have anything right now.

New Jersey Sports Betting

New Jersey is currently in a legal battle over sports betting in that state. The state is trying to offer wagering on pro and college events, but various athletic commissions and the DOJ are opposing this action. In late June of 2013, New Jersey made its final appeal to offer legal sports betting to its residents.

This all got started in 2011 when New Jersey voters approved a referendum to allow sports betting in the state. Governor Christie signed off on the measure in 2012, and that is when pro associations and the NCAA jumped in to block the measure.

That legal battle isn’t over yet, but we should have an answer soon. There is no legal sports betting in New Jersey yet, but that may change depending on the outcome of this case. It is just a waiting game for now.

The reason this all matters for online sports betting is because it will be much easier to set up a legal framework for online betting if the states can first approve of sports betting in any form. Once we have legal offline betting, it will be easier to transition over to online sports betting. There are still significant challenges (especially the Wire Act), but things are slowly moving in the right direction.

The biggest issue is that there are still strong factions opposed to sports betting and gambling in general. Certain moral-values groups and most major athletic commissions are strongly opposed to sports betting and internet gambling. However, it appears that most citizens support both offline and online sports betting.

The UK has had legal sports betting and online casinos for years now and everything runs fine over there. We haven’t seen widespread addiction or corruption of the leagues in the UK. Eventually, we’ll get to that same point over here. It’s just a matter of time.

In the meantime, take a look at daily fantasy betting. In some ways, fantasy sports betting is even more fun than traditional sports betting. There’s a lot of strategy involved in picking your teams, staying under the salary cap and finding a way to beat the competition. Best of all, online fantasy sports betting is already legal in all states except Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Vermont.

Additional State Efforts to Legalize Sports Betting

New Jersey got the sports betting legalization ball rolling, but other states have joined the party and are now actively pursuing legislation of their own. No fewer than twenty states have introduced or passed legislation that will legalize sports betting if the Supreme Court overturns or Congress repeals PASPA (the federal sports betting ban).

Interest in sports betting has spiked since New Jersey initiated its challenge of PASPA. As the Supreme Court weighs a decision on the case, lawmakers in numerous states are getting ahead of a possible ruling against PASPA and are drafting legislation to legalize, regulate and tax sports betting. This uptick in activity has spurred even more states to join the fray so they don’t get left behind if and when sports betting becomes a new boom industry in the United States.

Attitudes toward sports betting are also changing across the nation. Today, major media outlets openly discuss the morning’s betting lines during games and even the major sports leagues have softened their stances significantly in recent years.

For instance, the NFL said as recently as 2013 that it would never even consider playing an exhibition game in Las Vegas because of all the sports betting that takes place there. Just five years later, the Oakland Raiders have been approved to relocated and become the Las Vegas Raiders.

It is in this changing environment that a handful of states have already passed legislation into law. Even more states are debating similar legislation. The professional sports leagues have also stepped up lobbying efforts in states where sports betting legislation is either already pending or being discussed. The NBA and MLB have been particularly active in pressuring state lawmakers to include league-friendly provisions such as integrity fees to be paid to the leagues.

The more time passes and the more interest builds in sports betting, the more it seems momentum is pushing the United States towards legalizing sports betting. Even if the Supreme Court fails to overturn PASPA, there just might be enough demand among lawmakers to pass legislation at the federal level.

Mobile Betting in Nevada

Nevada is known for its sportsbooks, but it also has something very similar to internet betting: mobile betting. A few of the major casinos have created systems that allow sportsbook customers to place wagers from anywhere within the state.

If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can download a sportsbook’s app and place real money wagers from anywhere in the state of Nevada. These apps offer the full suite of betting options that you would find if you were actually sitting in the sportsbook. As long as you’re in Nevada, you can bet from the golf course, the pool or your living room.

So far, mobile betting in Nevada has been successful. Some people are opposed to the idea of betting on demand, but sports bettors love the convenience. Station Casinos has its mobile interface set up for its various properties (Red Rock Casino, Boulder Station and about a dozen others). The Venetian, M Resort, Hard Rock, Palms Resort and several others also have their own mobile betting systems.

Here are two of the biggest mobile betting providers in Nevada:

The Major Sports

You can bet on any sport in the world if you know where to look, but a few sports in particular dominate the American betting world. The following sports can be found at just about any Vegas sportsbook or fantasy betting site.

This section also includes a blurb under each sport explaining the league’s official position on sports betting. These are just brief overviews of where every league stands, but you can see this post for more details on each league’s official stance on the legalization of sports betting.

NFL Betting

The NFL is by far the dominant sport in the United States both in terms of viewing and betting. Even though there are relatively few football games compared to other sports, the NFL collects the majority of the betting action in the US.

You can bet on the NFL year-round, but the betting season really kicks in after the first season game. Then, the playoffs and Super Bowl take it even further. In between NFL seasons, you can bet on next year’s teams through the use of futures bets. These wagers allow you to bet on which teams will take the various championships and Super Bowl title.

During the season, you can place wagers on individual games, point totals and even how well specific players will do. NFL fantasy betting revolves around the specific players that you draft for your team each week. NFL betting is competitive though because it takes in the most money. Oddsmakers study the game closely and are effective at setting the lines to get action on both sides of every bet.

NFL Position on Sports Betting: Opposed, but softening

The NFL has long maintained a position against sports betting, citing concerns over protecting the integrity of the game. However, the NFL’s stance is also softening as evidenced by the NFL allowing the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas. More recent statements made by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also seem to indicate the NFL accepts the reality of the situation.


NBA Betting

The NBA attracts a lot of betting action as well. Each team plays at least 82 games a season and with 30 teams in the league, that is a lot of opportunities to place bets. One thing people tend to like about betting on basketball is that it is a fast-paced, high-scoring sport that often results in close contests. That makes every bet a little more exciting.

The most popular bets for the NBA include moneylines on individual teams, point totals, futures and prop bets. Moneylines involve picking one team or another to win; point totals revolve around how many points will be scored in a single game; futures require you to predict division champions and prop bets cover everything else.

NBA Position on Sports Betting: Supports legalization, wants to shape legislation

The NBA was the first major professional American sports league to soften its stance on sports betting and begin lobbying efforts. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver penned an op-ed way back in 2014 voicing his support of legalization.  Silver argued in his op-ed that sports betting is already happening today even though it’s illegal, and that it would be better to legalize it, bring out of the shadows and regulate it.

The NBA is still opposing New Jersey’s effort in front of the Supreme Court, but not because the NBA is against all sports betting. The NBA has said in the past that it would prefer to see a national solution rather than a patchwork state-by-state approach. That being said, the NBA has been busy lobbying lawmakers across a number of states in an effort to get concessions that would help the NBA included in any legislation.


MLB Betting

Major League Baseball aka MLB is another good option for sports bettors. This sport also provides lots of betting opportunities with every team playing 162 games. Many people insist that baseball is the easiest sport to handicap because there is so much data available to analyze. Even the bookmakers can’t get it right every time.

MLB betting consists of moneylines, runlines (which are basically point totals), futures and props. One of the fun things about betting on baseball is that you can place a few bets and then relax, watch the game and take in the view. Nothing beats a beautiful summer evening of baseball, betting and cold beer.

MLB Position on Sports Betting: Evolving, but generally in favor

The MLB has a long history of being opposed to sports betting, which is no surprise considering the league has suffered more than its fair share of gambling scandals over the decades. Back in 2017, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league was “reexamining” its stance on sports betting.

The MLB has not taken a hard position either way, but the league is still active alongside the NBA in lobbying for bills that are favorable to the MLB. In 2018, the MLB took its first official stance on a sports betting bill when it came out against a bill that was passed in West Virginia.


NHL Betting

The NHL has a smaller fan base than the sports mentioned above, but it is by no means a small fan base. NHL games pack stadiums and offer an experience that you have to see in person to understand. Like baseball, the NHL has a unique culture of die-hard fans and rivalries that make every game worth a watch.

Betting on the NHL involves moneylines on specific teams to win a game, pucklines (point totals), futures and props. The advantage of betting on the NHL is that you don’t have as much competition among the betting public. Oddsmakers don’t spend as much time getting every line just right, so it is very possible to find profitable lines.

NHL Position on Sports Betting: None

The NHL has stressed that it just isn’t too concerned with sports betting. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman insists the NHL is not a popular target for sports bettors and accounts for a tiny percentage of the dollars that are bet on sports every year.


PGA Betting

Sportsbooks are quite creative when it comes to golf betting. In a sport where every competition is a tournament with just one winner, the sportsbooks have come up with a surprising diversity of golf betting options.

You can bet on your favorite player to win a tournament as you would expect, but there are many more options beyond that. Depending on where you bet on golf, you will find wagers that allow you to pick which of two evenly-skilled golfers will have the best tournament finish, who will have the lowest first round, whether or not there will be a hole-in-one, what the nationality of the winner will be and much more.

PGA Position on Sports Betting: Supports legalization and regulation

The PGA officially came out in support of sports betting legalization with a statement issued in April of 2018 that said it “supports the regulation of sports betting in a safe and responsible manner.” The PGA also appears to be joining forces with the NBA and MLB to push for concessions such as integrity fees that would funnel to the leagues a percentage of every bet placed on their games.


NCAA / College Betting

College sports governed by the NCAA have a special place in many of our hearts. If you’re tired of seeing pros swap teams every year, fans fire their coaches every year and pros acting like prima donnas, college sports are for you. Whether its college football, basketball or any other sport, it’s obvious the players play with heart. Just watch a midseason college basketball game and compare the intensity to a midseason NBA game; the difference is incredible.

Another nice thing about NCAA betting is that there are so many teams and games to choose from. With so many options, bookmakers simply cannot spend as much time figuring the odds and studying the stats to set optimal lines. That makes it easier for you to spot value picks.

NCAA Position on Sports Betting: Opposed

The NCAA has been the most consistent league of the bunch. The NCAA states on its website that it “opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community.”


Tennis and Other Sports

Professional Golf (PGA), Tennis (APT), and all the other sports out there also offer opportunities for betting. The fan bases for these sports do not have the numbers that say, football and basketball have, but there is enough interest in these sports that bookmakers host bets for these sports.

Golf has a bunch of unique bets that you won’t find often in other sports. In televised golf, you can’t find individual matchups between just two competitors; every event is played tournament-style. However, sportsbooks are able to create matchups by simply selecting two players in an event and giving the “win” to whoever ends up with the best finishing position.

But for the most part, the bets you’ll find in all these other sports are similar to the bets explained above. You’ll find moneylines between teams or contestants, point totals, futures and props that cover everything else. The key to success in all sports is the same: know the teams, know the players, know the stats and make smart predictions free of your own biases.