Online MLB betting is now legal in a growing number of states thanks to the May 2018 Supreme Court decision to overturn the federal sports betting ban that for decades prohibited all states other than Nevada from legalizing and regulating sports betting.
Multiple states have passed laws since then and more are on the way. New Jersey, West Virginia and Pennsylvania were some of the first to legalize online sports betting, while additional states have opened the doors to physical sportsbooks.
As impressive revenue figures continue to roll in from states with legal MLB betting, it looks increasingly likely that most states will eventually have legal in-person or online sportsbooks.
Best MLB Betting Sites
The changing legal environment in the United States has unlocked a whole new world of baseball betting now that sportsbooks are opening for business across the country. What was once the purview of Nevada and questionable offshore betting sites is now legal in multiple states with more to come.
What this means for fans of America’s pastime is we finally have access to betting sites that are legal, licensed and safe. Unlike offshore sportsbooks that are run by questionable people with questionable security standards, legal betting sites in the United States are run under strict regulatory regimes and are subject to US law.
The biggest downside right now is that legal online betting is not yet available in all states. A handful of states do have legal betting sites up and running right now, but it will still be a process waiting for additional states to do the same. However, we closely follow legal developments and will keep the following map up to date as other states legalize online and in-person betting.
States with Legal MLB Betting
This map provides a current overview of where sports betting is legal. As additional states legalize sports betting, we will update this map with the latest information. In time, we hope to see this map full of color.
States with Legal Sports Betting
- Blue: Online/mobile betting is legal
- Green: Land-based sportsbooks only (no online betting)
- Red: MLB betting coming soon; legislation fully passed but waiting for implementation
Note: If you do not live in a state with legal online betting, our advice is to stay away from offshore betting sites. The next few years are expected to be very busy in terms of new legislation passing and eventually, more states than not will have legal MLB betting.
The next-best alternative if your state does not have legal sports betting is daily fantasy sports. More specifically, FanDuel and DraftKings are your two best bets when it comes to fantasy baseball. Both sites award millions of dollars’ worth of prizes in baseball contests every year. For instance, both sites hold an annual end-of-the-season championship with more than $1 million in prize money.
For those unfamiliar with daily fantasy baseball, the basic idea is similar to those office leagues you may have played in the past with the key difference being these contests only last for a single day. You draft a team of players, earn points based on their real-world performances and then earn payouts if you outscore the competition.
Fantasy MLB isn’t quite the same as actual sports betting, but the general sense of having something on the line when you watch baseball games on TV is the same. Every time one of the players you drafted connects with the ball, advances a base, throws a strike and wins a game, you’ll know that’s potential money in your pocket.
You can read more about each DFS site here:
Looking at the MLB Position on Baseball Betting
The MLB’s official stance on sports betting has evolved over the years in alignment with legal changes on the ground. In 2012, the MLB joined the NFL, NHL, NBA and NCAA in suing New Jersey over the state’s effort to legalize sports betting. Suffice it to say, the MLB at one point was very much opposed to sports betting.
Although the league’s longstanding opposition to sports betting may have been frustrating for those of us in favor of legalization, the MLB’s position is understandable. After all, baseball betting has led to more than one high-profile scandal for the league over the years.
The most iconic baseball betting scandal of all time may very well be the Black Sox World Series scandal dating all the way back to 1919 that tarred the great Shoeless Joe Jackson and which remains controversial to this day. Over the many years since then, Major League Baseball spared no expense in making known its strong opposition to sports betting.
However, the league began to change its stance in early 2018 as word began to spread that the Supreme Court seemed to be on the verge of siding with New Jersey in its effort to legalize sports betting.
In anticipation of that possibility, the MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league was “reexamining our stance on gambling.” Manfred went on to explain that with the massive amounts of illegal gambling already going on under prohibition, it may be better for Congress to regulate sports betting at the federal level in order to provide a uniform set of rules and regulations to protect the integrity of the game.
Ultimately, the MLB came out in support of federal regulation. The Supreme Court ruling that was issued in May of 2018 opened the door for individual states to pass their own laws, but the MLB continues to support federal intervention. The MLB also supports integrity fees and data mandates, both of which have proven unpopular among most lawmakers at the state level.
Regarding integrity fees, the MLB at one point argued that it needed laws put in place that would require all sports betting operators to pay a fee equal to 1% of total betting handle in order to offset costs associated with protecting the integrity of the game. When that argument fell flat, the MLB rebranded the integrity fees as “royalty fees” and lowered its demand to 0.25% of betting handle.
MLB demands for data mandates would have lawmakers create legislation requiring all sports betting operators to purchase data directly from the league in order to settle wagers and manage in-play betting markets. That request has also proven unpopular at the state level with lawmakers telling the leagues they can make agreements with betting operators on the free market.
Still, at least one federal law proposed at the end of 2018 would give the leagues a monopoly over data for at least a few years. Not surprisingly, the MLB strongly supported that effort. The MLB today continues to advocate for strong protections and will continue to lobby lawmakers anywhere there is a chance sports betting legislation will advance.
Reputable MLB Betting Sites
The end of the federal sports betting prohibition has finally cleared the way for well-financed and highly experienced gaming companies to open betting sites in direct competition with the various offshore sportsbooks that have served the US market illegally for years.
The overall quality of the online sports betting experience has risen dramatically as a result with the likes of MGM Resorts, DraftKings, FanDuel, Rush Street Interactive and others all getting involved. In all, this has made it easier to find high quality sportsbooks whatever your sport of choice may be.
The key is to always stick with licensed online sportsbooks in your state. State gambling regulators are so selective in awarding online betting licenses that even if your sole criteria for choosing where to play is whether or not a sportsbook is licensed in your state, you will be in good hands when it comes to security, betting options and overall experience.
There are two ways to find licensed sportsbooks in your state. First, you can visit our state pages to see which online sportsbooks (or fantasy sites) are legal in your state. Alternatively, you can visit your state regulator’s website for a list of sportsbooks that hold active licenses. For example, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement keeps such a list on this page.
This point applies to online sports betting in general, but something else to consider when it comes to baseball betting in particular is to look for betting sites that have formal partnerships in place with the MLB.
For instance, consider the deal we discussed previously between the MLB and MGM Resorts International. That deal extends well beyond advertising by also giving betting sites operated by MGM Resorts access to in-depth Statcast data that will make it possible for BetMGM and other sites operated by MGM to offer unique types of wagers and a more comprehensive in-play betting experience.
Online sports betting is still a fairly young industry in the United States, but as the industry continues to mature and innovate, we should start to see individual betting sites begin to differentiate from one another to offer in terms of features, live streaming of MLB games and unique forms of wagers.
One example that comes to mind is PointsBet, which offers variable payouts based on how right you are. If you bet on the over in a points total, for example, PointsBet doesn’t just pay a flat amount if the score goes over; it actually pays more based on how many points the total is exceeded. That’s just one example, but it goes to show how innovation will continue to shape the industry moving forward.
Types of MLB Wagers Explained
Learning how to bet on baseball online begins with understanding the moneyline odds format. Once you have that down pat, you will have little trouble getting a handle on the many other types of MLB wagers that you’ll encounter in your time as a bettor.
In-Play MLB Betting Sites
Traditionally, the big downside with sports betting was that all action stopped after the start of the game. If you were late to tune in and missed the first pitch, you’d be out of luck with all markets closed for action. Any missed opportunities would just have to be filed away in the “what if” box as you wait to try again another day.
In-play betting takes the traditional concept of a sports wager and turns it on its head by getting started after the game begins. With in-play betting, you can watch the first few pitches (or even the first few innings) before making a decision and laying down a wager.
The most basic in-play wagers mirror standard bets such as moneylines, run lines and totals, but with the key difference being the odds are updated in real time. Thus, you can get a feel for the momentum of the game and place a wager based on the most recent information possible: what has actually happened on the field up to this point.
The best in-play MLB sites also offer shorter-term wagers such as how the next at-bat will go, which team will be next to score a run, which team will win the next inning and much more. In short, in-play betting greatly expands the opportunities you have as a bettor while watching the game in real time.
Baseball is especially fitting for in-play betting because the pace of the game affords enough time to make reasonable decisions while still moving quickly enough to keep things interesting. Even in a fairly tame meeting between two teams you don’t particularly care for takes on new meaning when you can potentially bet on the outcome of every at-bat and every play from the first inning on down to the final pitch of the game.
In-play baseball betting is a fun way to experience the sport with a mobile sportsbook in the palm of your hand and a game on TV, but some caution is warranted. The sheer number of in-play wagers offered during a single game makes it easy to get carried away and wager more than you intended. Consider setting a cap on how much you’re allowed to wager during a game and stick to it no matter what happens.
In addition to being a fun way to take in a game, in-play baseball betting can also be used to hedge pre-game wagers and to pounce on opportunities where you perceive an edge. You’ll have to think quickly and be ready to strike on a moment’s notice, but the opportunities are there if you keep your eyes open.
When choosing the best in-play baseball betting sites, it again pays to note which operators have signed agreements with the MLB for official data. The in-play betting options are greatly expanded for betting sites that can draw timely, accurate and unique information straight from the league.
It is also conceivable that some sites will eventually strike deals with the league to stream games live such as some of the big European sportsbooks do with certain soccer and tennis matches. When and if that happens, look for the in-play betting model to quickly overtake traditional sports betting in terms of popularity and total handle.
Best MLB Fantasy Sites
Daily fantasy MLB is the statistician’s dream come true. It’s true that traditional fixed-odds baseball betting is a great way to put your knowledge to use, but daily MLB fantasy leagues for real money take it a step further.
In drafting a fantasy baseball lineup, there is so much information to take into account. Those who study the game truly have the advantage. Additionally, all that practice you get researching and drafting MLB teams in fantasy contests will come in very handy if and when you make the switch to traditional baseball betting.
What I’ve found is that fantasy baseball works best at the sites that have the most active members. More active players means more contests and bigger potential prize pools. With those considerations in mind, that makes our top two picks obvious choices: