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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For over 25 years, there was just one catch here in the United States. A federal law prohibited all but a few states from allowing any sports wagering whatsoever, and only permitted Nevada to have actual single-game sports betting.

Everything changed in May of 2018 when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled the federal sports betting ban unconstitutional. That decision ended a years-long legal battle pitting the state of New Jersey against federal law, the NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues. New Jersey’s victory and the Supreme Court’s final decision opened the doors for individual states to legalize and regulate sports betting.

A number of states are already in the process of enacting their own legislation to legalize and regulate sports betting for residents. The federal prohibition is no longer in effect, but now we must wait for each state to form a regulatory framework for legal sports betting. It is very possible we will see the first legal sports bets outside of Nevada take place within the next few months.

New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi and West Virginia were the early contenders to be among the first states to actually get sports betting up and running. Delaware won the race to legal sports betting after the Governor’s Office announced the state’s three brick-and-mortar casinos were authorized to begin taking wagers on June 5th, 2018.

Other states are following suit and some have estimated we could see legal sports betting in as many as 32 states within five years of the Supreme Court decision.

The only thing we have to do now is wait for state legislatures to move on the various pieces of sports betting bills that are pending around the country. Most of us will have access to legal sports betting sooner rather than later.

During the years the federal prohibition was in effect, a massive offshore sports betting industry flourished as online sportsbooks hosted in countries such as Costa Rica and Panama catered to Americans looking to get their gambling fix. Those sportsbooks will surely continue business as usual during the interim as we wait for the states to act, but customers should be aware that the offshore sports betting industry is completely unregulated.

Customers are very much on their own when it comes to chasing down payments and dealing with rogue operators. For these reasons, we never have and never will recommend offshore sportsbooks for US residents here at BettingUSA.com. There are simply too many instances of slow payouts, no payouts and sometimes even threats directed to customers for having the temerity to demand faster payouts.

The smart bet is to hang tight for now and wait until your state legalizes online sports betting. You can check progress where you live on our up-to-date states pages here and watch for legislative updates on our news and sports betting blog here.

In the meantime, there are some solid alternatives to actual sports betting we can use to get by for now. Daily fantasy sports, for example, offer the ability to almost bet on sports by building your own one-day fantasy teams and then get paid that same day if you do well enough to earn a payout. It’s not exactly the same as sports betting, but the general concept is similar and it is still a lot of fun.

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 almost every state. When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006 to block payments to online gambling firms, it specifically mentioned fantasy sports as having 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 the tide has turned now that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has been stricken down by the Supreme Court. Numerous states are now in the process of enacting legislation that will allow customers to bet on sports in a legal and regulated environment.

The Las Vegas and Nevada sports betting monopoly has come to an end. Lawmakers are writing, introducing and voting on bills that will most likely bring sports betting to multiple states by the end of 2018 and even more states in 2019 and beyond.

Delaware

Delaware was the first state to authorize sports betting after the 2018 Supreme Court decision striking down PASPA. This was made possible by a piece of legislation the state passed in 2009 that sought to legalize sports betting. The NCAA and major sports leagues challenged Delaware’s gambling law and a court agreed that the law violated PASPA.

The 2009 law was stopped from taking effect, but lawmakers never actually repealed. For nearly a decade, the law simply sat on the books, unenforced. The Supreme Court’s 2018 decision removed PASPA from the equation, which in turn made it a simple thing for lawmakers to dust off the old law and bring sports betting back to the state’s three licensed casinos.

You can read more about sports betting in Delaware here.

New Jersey

It is largely thanks to New Jersey that the federal sports betting prohibition has been overturned. Governor Chris Christie initiated a legal battle over sports betting way back in 2011 and 2012 when a state referendum and a subsequent law legalizing sports betting prompted the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL to enjoin the new law in New Jersey.

This kicked off what would become a six-year legal battle with New Jersey on one side and the country’s biggest sports organizations on the other. You can read all the gritty details on our New Jersey page, but the long and short of it is New Jersey came back from the edge of defeat to claim victory in the highest court of the land.

The Supreme Court sided with New Jersey to put an end to the federal law that had stopped the states from enacting sports betting laws. Once the Supreme Court decided to hear the case, momentum began to shift and New Jersey started to look like it might actually win the case.

While that was all playing out, a surprisingly large number of states pursued sports betting legislation of their own. Certain lawmakers in these states wanted to be ready to move quickly on the chance that the Supreme Court decided to rule PASPA unconstitutional.

A flurry of activity among legislators across the nation indicates we’re just getting started. New Jersey will almost certainly be joined by numerous states to pass bills making sports betting a legal and licensed activity. The longstanding prohibition has finally come to an end. Now, it’s just a matter of time as states pass and implement sports betting legislation.

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. Soon, you can expect to see these sports covered by licensed and legal online sportsbooks in the USA.

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: Supports Federal Legislation

The NFL maintained a position opposing sports betting up until the Supreme Court ruled PASPA unconstitutional. Since then, the NFL has changed its stance to reflect the new reality of sports betting. The NFL is now urging Congress to pass regulations at the federal level in order to create a nationwide standard rather than a patchwork of state laws.

In a statement issued on May 21st, 2018, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this:

As it was for my predecessors, there is no greater priority for me as the Commissioner of the National Football League than protecting the integrity of our sport. Our fans, our players and our coaches deserve to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure no improper influences affect how the game is played on the field. This week’s ruling by the Supreme Court has no effect on that unwavering commitment.

We have spent considerable time planning for the potential of broadly legalized sports gambling and are prepared to address these changes in a thoughtful and comprehensive way, including substantial education and compliance trainings for our clubs, players, employees and partners. These efforts include supporting commonsense legislation that protects our players, coaches and fans and maintains public confidence in our games. We are asking Congress to enact uniform standards for states that choose to legalize sports betting that include, at a minimum, four core principles:

There must be substantial consumer protections;

  1. Sports leagues can protect our content and intellectual property from those who attempt to steal or misuse it;
  2. Fans will have access to official, reliable league data; and
  3. Law enforcement will have the resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary to protect our fans and penalize bad actors here at home and abroad.

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 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.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued this statement following the Supreme Court ruling:

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court opens the door for states to pass laws legalizing sports betting. We remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures. Regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.”


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, favors regulation

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 did not take a hard position either way at first, 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 the league came out against a bill that was passed in West Virginia.

After the Supreme Court decision, the NBA issued a new statement:

“Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court will have profound effects on Major League Baseball. As each state considers whether to allow sports betting, we will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports. Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games. We will continue to support legislation that creates air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports toward that goal.”


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: No Major Changes; Policies Under Review

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.

After the ruling, the NHL issued this statement:

“The Supreme Court’s decision today paves the way to an entirely different landscape – one in which we have not previously operated. We will review our current practices and policies and decide whether adjustments are needed, and if so, what those adjustments will look like. It’s important to emphasize that the Supreme Court’s decision has no immediate impact on existing League rules relating to sports wagering, and particularly, wagering involving NHL games. So, while changes may be considered in the future, today’s decision does not directly impact the operation of the League or any of our Clubs in the short term.”


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.

After the ruling, the PGA Tour issued another statement reiterating its stance:

“Following the Supreme Court’s ruling today, the PGA Tour reiterates its support of the regulation of sports betting in a safe and responsible manner. We believe that regulation is the most effective way of ensuring integrity in competition, protecting consumers, engaging fans and generating revenue for government, operators and league.”


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: Supports Federal Legislation

The NCAA had been the most consistent league of the bunch up until the Supreme Court decision. The NCAA stated on its website for years 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.”

After the ruling, the NCAA altered its stance to support regulation and even drop its longstanding policy that formerly prohibited championships from being held in states with legal sports betting.

The NCAA now supports a federal model for regulating sports betting according to a statement issued after the ruling. In a statement, the NCAA said it remains committed to prohibit wagering by athletes and officials, and will support all regulations necessary to protect the integrity of competition.


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.