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 sportsbook 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.
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 The federal prohibition is no longer in effect, but now we must wait for each state to form a regulatory framework for legal sports betting.
Each of the following states now has legislation in place authorizing sports betting or, in the case of New Mexico, has seen sportsbooks open without new legislation needed.
- Arkansas: In-person
- Delaware: In-person
- Indiana: In-person and mobile
- Iowa: In-person and mobile
- Mississippi: In-person
- Montana: In-person via betting kiosks; mobile when users are on premises
- Nevada: In-person and mobile
- New Jersey: Online and in-person
- New Mexico: In-person
- Pennsylvania: Online and in-person
- Rhode Island: In-person
- West Virginia: Online and in-person
- Washington DC: Online and in-person
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.
Offshore 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, Daily Fantasy Sports serves as an entertaining real money alternative. 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.
Legal Sportsbooks 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 to bring legal mobile sports betting to a growing number of states. Below is a summary of the legal environment in each of the states that has passed legislation to date.
Delaware: Retail Sportsbooks
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.
Read More: Delaware Sports Betting.
Arkansas: Retail Sportsbooks
Arkansas voters approved sports betting via referendum in the November 2018 elections. The ballot measure asked voters if they would like to authorize retail sportsbooks at four preselected locations consisting of two existing racetrack-casinos (racinos) and at two casinos that were still in the early planning stages at the time.
The Arkansas sports betting law did not authorize mobile apps; it is strictly limited to wagers placed in-person at each of the four casinos. Online betting would have been a convenient addition, but Arkansas is certainly moving in the right direction.
Read More: Arkansas Sports Betting.
Indiana: Sportsbooks at Casinos and Mobile Betting
Indiana legalized sports betting in mid-2019 with a law authorizing casinos to operate retail sportsbooks and mobile betting apps. The industry-friendly law established a low tax rate, allows competition from multiple providers and gives players plenty of options when it comes to choosing a place to bet.
The Indiana Gaming Commission is tasked with regulating sports betting throughout the state and issuing licenses to operators. Sports fans must be at least 21 years old to place wagers at the casino or through mobile sportsbooks.
Read More: Indiana Sports Betting.
Iowa: Sportsbooks and Mobile Betting Apps
Sports betting was legalized in Iowa roughly one year after the Supreme Court struck down the federal prohibition. In Iowa, casinos may apply for sports betting licenses in order to run in-person sportsbooks and up to two individual mobile apps.
The law specified customers must register for mobile betting at a local casino before placing wagers online from the date the law was passed until 1 January 2021. Moving forward, customers may sign up online without having to visit a casino in person. The minimum age to bet on sports in Iowa is 21 and you must be physically present within state lines in order to place wagers.
Read More: Iowa Sports Betting.
Mississippi: Retail Sportsbooks
Mississippi was another early mover on sports betting with a law passed in June 2018 to legalize retail sportsbooks at authorized casinos. The first legal wager in Mississippi was placed on 1 August 2018 and the state now has dozens of legal sportsbooks.
Mobile sports betting has not yet been authorized in Mississippi. Current law restricts all betting to customers actually present inside one of the state’s licensed casinos. The minimum sports betting age in Mississippi is 21.
Read More: Mississippi Sports Betting.
Montana: Sports Betting Kiosks
Montana had to take a unique approach to sports betting due to the state not having any land-based casinos. Rather than authorizing traditional sportsbooks, lawmakers opted to pass a law allowing the MT Lottery to place sports betting kiosks at certain bars and restaurants.
Mobile betting is technically legal in MT, but the convenience of mobile sportsbooks in MT is limited by one unfortunate rule: players must be located inside a licensed establishment in order to place bets via mobile devices.
Read More: Montana Sports Betting.
Nevada: Retail Sportsbooks and Mobile Betting
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:
Read More: Nevada Sports Betting.
New Jersey: Mobile Sports Betting and Retail Sportsbooks
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 has already been joined by numerous states in passing bills to legalize and regulate sports betting. The longstanding prohibition has finally come to an end.
Read More: New Jersey Sports Betting
New Mexico: Tribal Sportsbooks
Sports betting came to New Mexico through a non-traditional route. Rather than waiting for lawmakers to take action, Native American groups decided to launch sportsbooks at their tribal casinos. The Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel was the first to act in late 2018 and it was followed by others in early 2019.
The Native American groups insist their sportsbooks are legal under existing tribal-state compacts and so far, state officials have declined to push the issue. While other potential operators sit on the sidelines waiting for legislation, the state’s tribal casinos are enjoying the fruits of legal sports betting.
Read More: New Mexico Sports Betting.
Pennsylvania: Retail Sportsbooks and Betting Sites
Pennsylvania was one of the first states to legalize sports betting with legislation that was passed back in 2017 – even before the landmark Supreme Court decision. Funnily enough, PA ended up being quite slow in the actual implementation of sports betting despite being among the first to pass a law regulating the industry.
The first PA sportsbooks launched in late 2018 and the first betting apps followed in mid-2019. Pennsylvania is also one of the only states with legal online casino games and poker sites. Overall, Pennsylvania has one of the most robust online gaming markets.
Read More: Pennsylvania Sports Betting.
Rhode Island: Retail Sportsbooks
Rhode Island has a limited sports betting market comprised entirely of sportsbooks located at the two Twin River casinos. A budget bill approved by Governor Gina Raimondo in 2018 authorized sportsbooks at Twin River Lincoln and Tiverton Casino.
Mobile betting is under consideration in Rhode Island but does not appear to be a priority at the moment. Some lawmakers believe a statewide referendum may be necessary to authorize sports betting. If that’s the case, legalization faces an uphill battle as the outcomes of such referendum are never a sure thing. However, other lawmakers are not so sure.
Read More: Rhode Island Sports Betting.
West Virginia: Retail Sportsbooks and Mobile Betting Apps
Lawmakers in West Virginia did gamblers a big favor in 2018 by passing legislation to authorize online sports betting, casino games and poker. Just as importantly, lawmakers resisted the temptation to squeeze the industry for every last penny with a sensible tax rate of just 10% for operators and crafted the legislation to foster competition among the state’s various casinos.
The WV sports betting model will serve as a useful comparison point to the high-tax, high-licensing fee model enacted in Pennsylvania. As the industry matures, it will be useful for lawmakers in other states to compare WV to PA in terms of profitability, tax revenue per capita and effectiveness at channeling players away from offshore betting sites.
Read More: West Virginia Sports Betting.
Washington DC: Retail Sportsbooks and Mobile Betting
Despite being the smallest jurisdiction to tackle the sports betting issue, Washington DC has taken a serious stab at also getting a piece of the pie. A law introduced in 2018 and approved in 2019 has set the stage for a unique betting landscape consisting of brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at authorized retailers, sportsbooks placed in major stadiums and a single mobile app to serve the rest of the city.
Read More: Washington DC Sports Betting.
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 all US sports betting sites. Soon, you can expect to see these sports covered by licensed and legal online sportsbooks in the USA.
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.
- Read more: NFL Betting in the USA
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;
- Sports leagues can protect our content and intellectual property from those who attempt to steal or misuse it;
- Fans will have access to official, reliable league data; and
- Law enforcement will have the resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary to protect our fans and penalize bad actors here at home and abroad.
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.
- Read more: NBA Betting in the USA
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.”
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.
- Read more: MLB Betting in the USA
MLB Position on Sports Betting: Evolving, favors regulation
The MLB has a long history of being opposed to sports betting in the USA, 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.”
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.
- Read more: NHL Betting in the USA
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.”
Sportsbooks are quite creative when it comes to golf betting. In a sport where every competition is a tournament with just one winner, US 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.
- Read more: PGA Betting in the USA
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.
Later, NCAA President Mark Emmert seemed to alter his organization’s stance back to one of increased hostility towards sports betting. Speaking in front of the NCAA annual convention in January of 2019, Emmert said this:
“Sports wagering is going to have a dramatic impact on everything we do in college sports. It’s going to threaten the integrity of college sports in many ways unless we are willing to act boldly and strongly.”
This sounds like yet another call for federal regulation, but Emmert did not expand on his comments regarding the need “to act boldly and strongly.” In any case, the statement seems a bit out of place considering people have been betting on NCAA college games in Las Vegas and through offshore betting sites for decades now.
The UFC pairs well with sports betting as do all combat sports. The number of factors you have to consider are drastically reduced when it’s as simple as two people enter the cage, and only one exits as the winner without a whole lot of burdensome rules. Skill plays a bigger role in MMA betting than it does in other sports due to that simple factor alone.
Aside from that, the UFC is just an all-around great entertainment experience between the fighters’ storylines and personal drama, the visceral nature of one-on-one combat and the purity of physical competition.
- Read more: Legal UFC Betting
Traditionally, tennis accounts for just a small portion of the handle taken by brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in Nevada compared to the likes of football, basketball and baseball. However, tennis betting is highly popular overseas and now stands to benefit immensely thanks to the legalization of online betting here in the United States.
With legal online sportsbooks now taking pre-game and in-play wagers on tennis, now is the time to get acquainted if you haven’t already.
- Read more: Legal Tennis Betting
NASCAR betting is now taking place in the US at land-based and online sportsbooks alike. With the sport looking for new ways to increase fan engagement, the legalization of sports betting has come at a convenient time for NASCAR. Whether you’re an old hand or are just getting into racing, our NASCAR betting guide will get you started on the right foot.
- Read more: Legal NASCAR Betting
Although soccer still lags behind the likes of the NFL and MLB in terms of viewership here in the United States, most of the sportsbooks operators that have acquired licenses so far provide extensive soccer betting options thanks to prior experience on the international stage. Legal betting sites here in the US don’t just cover MLS matches; they cover an entire world of soccer including national leagues and international competitions.
- Read more: Legal Soccer Betting