United States Legal Online Sports Betting – Where and How to Play, US Sportsbook Info
United States Federal Online Sports Betting Legislation
To tell the tale of online sports betting legislation in the United States, we start in Nevada, way back in 1931. On March 19, 1931, Nevada Governor Fred Balzar signed Bill 98 into law, which legalized gambling for the first time in any US state’s history. This put Nevada, and more specifically, Las Vegas, on the path to becoming the sports betting destination we know today.
So why was Nevada the only state in the US where people could legally bet on sports for nearly a century?
First, that’s not quite true. There is one state that had something in common with Nevada: Delaware. While no other state offered legal sports betting until 2018, Delaware featured parlays of three or more NFL games. Still, Nevada was entirely on its own in offering full-scale sports betting.
For the reasons why sports betting remained sequestered in Nevada until 2018, enter the Big Bad in this story: the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, better known as PASPA. In 1992, PASPA – a law put in place by the US federal government in order to curtail corrupt sports gambling – essentially banned sports betting across the US, except in states where it already existed (Nevada and Delaware).
When Congress voted PASPA into law, there was a clause which gave states that operated casinos a one-year window during which they could pass legislation to allow sports betting. Many states, especially ones like New Jersey with an existing gambling infrastructure, rued the day they failed take advantage of the carve out – for the next 25 years.
Nevertheless, 17 years after PASPA, the battle for online sports betting in the US began. In 2009, Senator Ray Lesniak rallied support to question the constitutionality of PASPA. In 2011, a constitutional amendment that would allow sports betting in New Jersey was given the thumbs up by 64% of voters. Soon after, Lesniak introduced the Sports Wagering Act, the first step toward fully legalized NJ sports betting.
In 2012, New Jersey lawmakers approved the Sports Wagering Act, which Governor Chris Christie signed into law. Progress stalled, however, when the the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA sued Christie and New Jersey in order to prevent legalized sports betting.
2013 was a bad year for the fight against PASPA. A judge ruled in favor of the leagues, and PASPA was upheld. Every appeal yielded the same result, and the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear the case.
In 2014, Christie switched tactics by proposing to end New Jersey’s self-imposed ban on sports betting. Christie claimed that because there would be no regulation by the state, it didn’t violate PASPA. He introduced and signed the bill, and by October, 2016, New Jersey casinos began preparing to launch sportsbooks.
When the professional sport leagues didn’t back down, New Jersey’s Sports Wagering Act was denied a second time by both the US District Court and Third Circuit Court. In a surprising and encouraging move, SCOTUS agreed to hear the case – a massive turning point for New Jersey, and for online sports betting in the US.
On December 4, 2017, oral arguments were heard in the officially named Murphy vs. NCAA case. By all accounts, the hearings went extremely well for the pro-sports betting side, and optimism swelled. In May 2018, SCOTUS announced a 6-3 win for Murphy and New Jersey, striking down PASPA once and for all, and paving the way for legal online sports betting in the United States.
State-by-State US Online Sports Betting Update
For the purposes of this page, states will be classified as in the following ways:
PLACE YOUR BETS! – State offers full-scale sports betting, both live and online
HALFWAY THERE – State offers full-scale live sports betting with online sportsbooks pending the approval of state regulations
GETTING CLOSER – State does not yet offer sports betting but is working on legislation and/or regulations
UP IN THE AIR – State’s plans regarding sports betting are in flux
PLACE YOUR BETS!
Sports betting has legally existed in Nevada since 1931. But it wasn’t until 1982, when the federal government further reduced its tax rate all the way down to 0.25%, that sports betting in Nevada flourished. The modern-era of sportsbooks dawned in 1986 when The Hilton opened its Superbook, full of luxurious seats and many large TVs. This site is now Westgate, which is home to what is widely recognized as the best sportsbook in Las Vegas.
Sports betting in Nevada in 2018 is alive and well, despite PASPA no longer blocking other states. Almost every casino in Las Vegas has a sportsbook, with many of them featuring large, stadium-like areas with large screens and plush seating areas.
Las Vegas has also embraced the Digital Age, with many sportsbooks offering online sports betting. Some operators are boasting that between 25-50% of their handle comes from apps. No matter how or where you like to bet on sports, Las Vegas is still the sports betting capital of the US.
Here are some of the online sports betting operators in Nevada:
|Site/App||Sports Betting Service Provider|
|Station Casinos – STN Sports||Miomni|
|MGM Resorts – PlayMGM||IGT|
|CG Technology||CG Technology|
|William Hill||William Hill|
|NV Sports Books||William Hill|
|Boyd Gaming – B-Connected Sports||Miomni|
|Westgate – SuperBook||Miomni|
|South Point||William Hill|
Online sports betting in the United States is now legal thanks in large part to New Jersey and its lawmakers. In May 2018, the SCOTUS announced a 6-3 win for New Jersey in the Murphy vs NCAA case, thus striking down PASPA once and for all and opening up the online sports betting floodgates.
Shortly after the ruling, New Jersey unanimously passed a new sports betting bill and Gov. Phil Murphy signed it into law. NJ sports betting officially went live on June 14, 2018. The Governor officially launched sports betting in New Jersey by placing $20 on Germany to win the World Cup (what a fail!), and $20 on the New Jersey Devils to win the 2019 Stanley Cup (that’s a lot of pressure on Taylor Hall!).
According to the bill, online sports betting in New Jersey was legal 30 days after June 14, although DraftKings Sportsbook – the first operator to offer NJ online sports betting – did not launch until August 2018.
Here is the current state of online sports betting in New Jersey:
|Site/App||Casino/Racetrack Partner(s)||Sports Betting Service Provider||Launch Date|
|888 Sport||Caesars||Kambi||September 10, 2018|
|Bally’s||Bally’s AC||Scientific Games||TBD|
|bet365||Hard Rock AC||bet365||Summer 2019|
|BetStars||Resorts AC||SBTech||September 13, 2018|
|Caesars||Caesars AC||Scientific Games||September 6, 2018|
|Churchill Downs||Golden Nugget AC||SBTech||TBD|
|DraftKings||Resorts AC||Kambi||August 6, 2018|
|FanDuel||Meadowlands||FanDuel Group||September 1, 2018|
|Harrah’s||Harrah’s AC||Scientific Games||TBD|
|Kindred Group||Hard Rock AC||Kindred Group||January 27, 2019|
|PlayMGM||Borgata AC||IGT||August 22, 2018|
|SugarHouse||Monmouth Park||Kambi||August 23, 2018|
|William Hill||Monmouth Park||William Hill||September 1, 2018|
On March 3, 2018, West Virginia legalized sports betting, which meant when PASPA was finally struck down in May 2018, the state was in position to offer full-scale sports betting relatively quickly.
On August 30, the first official sports bet in West Virginia was made at Hollywood Casino Charles Town Races – a $50 wager on West Virginia to win the 2019 NCAA championship game.
Current West Virginia law permits online sports betting, and regulations are in place. BetLucky.com is the only online site to take bets, but all online betting was suddenly halted when complications arose with their gaming supplier, Miomni. However, with the September 13 launch of the FanDuel Sportsbook inside The Greenbrier, mobile sports betting in West Virginia is about to get a lot more exciting.
On June 5, 2018, Delaware became the first state outside of Nevada to accept a single-game sports bet when Governor John Carney placed $10 wager on the Philadelphia Phillies to beat the Chicago Cubs.
Delaware has three casinos that offer sports betting – Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington. Currently, there are no legislative details for online sports betting in Delaware. Lawmakers have said they are in no rush to get into the online sports betting market and are focused on ensuring the casino sports books are functioning efficiently. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see online regulations begin to take shape in the coming months.
On August 1, the state of Mississippi began accepting sports bets. Sports betting in Mississippi must take place in one if its land or water-based casinos. Beau Rivage, Gold Strike, Sam’s Town, Horseshoe and IP Casino are among the first casinos taking sports bets in Mississippi.
Currently, gambling and sports betting in Mississippi must take place on the physical presence of a casino. Some casino have electronic betting, but it is limited to patrons on the premises. Online and mobile sports betting in Mississippi is coming at some point, but there are no immediate plans. Early attempts in 2019 failed with hopes of talks to heat up as the new congressional year starts soon.
On October 30, 2018, Tom Wolf signed a sports betting bill into law, leaving only PASPA in the way of legal sports betting in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is typically in no rush to get anything moving but on November 16, 2018, Hollywood Casino took the first legal sports bet in Pennsylvania. Since then, seven other sportsbooks have opened their doors.
Despite the fact that sports betting is legal in PA, the state has struggled to effectively finalize online sports betting plans. A series of delays including the DOJ reversal of their interpretation of the wire act have pushed the probable launch dates back to Summer 2019.
Pennsylvania sports fans and bettors are no doubt frustrated. But the good news is once one Pennsylvania online sportsbook launches and the ball starts rolling, things should fall into place quickly.
When Governor Gina Raimondo signed off on Rhode Island’s 2018 budget, people took notice that it contained language that would allow sports betting. Only two locations would feature sports betting, but it’s a start. The Rhode Island Lottery oversee sports betting rules and regulations and bets began being taken in November 2018 at the states two Twin River Casinos. Unfortunately, the new law does not contain language for online sports betting, so action would is limited to the two land-based casinos (Lincoln and Tiverton).
In 2013, New York passed a law that legalized sports betting at four on-site locations, but this bill lay dormant due to the presence of PASPA. After the fall of PASPA, legislation for legal sports betting in New York was tabled, but surprisingly, it failed to pass in 2018. New York lawmakers will try to agree on legislation in 2019, hopefully with more luck. Negotiations are in full swing here, but being held up with particulars, mainly the addition of online/mobile wagering.The New York State Gaming Commission believes it can complete regulations relatively quickly once legislation for full-scale sports betting is in place.
UP IN THE AIR
In 2018, Connecticut lawmakers introduced a wide-ranging sports betting bill. The state heard oral arguments from various interested parties, representatives from the NBA and MLB among them. Despite a strong group of supporters, legislative sessions concluded without a formal vote on the sports betting bill. Governor Dannel Malloy, who would like to see the bill to completion, has suggested that he will call a special session of the state legislature to continue working towards legal sports betting in Connecticut.
In anticipation of the fall of PASPA, Illinois lawmakers introduced a bill called the “Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act” in January, 2018. The draft proposed to “authorize sports betting or electronic sports betting by an electronic sports betting patron or sports betting facility patron.” Other bills taking a slightly different shape were introduced as well, and hearings and arguments were held about the various bills. Somewhat disappointingly, no formal votes have been taken on any bills, leaving the state of online sports betting in Illinois up in the air.
United States Online Sports Betting FAQs
Is sports betting currently legal in the United States?
As of May, 2018 – the month the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA – individual states are now free to pass legislation that would legalize sports betting.
Where can bettors in the United States bet on sports?
The first avenue for a state to get into the sports betting market is thru its existing land or water-based casinos. Any state looking to legalize sports betting will start with brick and mortar sportsbooks.
From there, mobile apps and online sportsbooks will follow, much to the delight of punters everywhere. However, there are two main hurdles for online sports betting in the United States.
First, states must determine online sports betting license fees, tax rates and regulations. Some states are flying through this process (New Jersey) while others, like New York, are struggling.
The other thing sports fans and bettors should know is that due to the Federal Wire Act of 1961, online sportsbooks are prohibited from accepting out-of-state wagers. Sports betting in each individual state is completely tethered to its lawmakers and regulators, which is why it’s so important to discover and report in this news, like we do here at RotoGrinders!
Which US states currently have online sports betting?
Nevada has many sports betting apps, but accounts and deposits are tied to physical casinos.
West Virginia launched and suddenly halted taking mobile bets on BetLucky.com due to betting supplier issues. FanDuel has opened up its sportsbook on The Greenbrier property and is in the process of launching a mobile product.
The only state that has true mobile and online sports betting is New Jersey. We’ve reviewed the following online sportsbooks and sports betting apps, which are live in New Jersey:
- 888 Sportsbook
- BetStars Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- playMGM Sportsbook
- SugarHouse Sportsbook
- William Hill Sportsbook
- Hard Rock Sportsbook
- Golden Nugget Sportsbook
- PointsBet Sportsbook
- BetAmerica Sportsbook
- Resorts Sportsbook
What kind of sports bets are legal to place in the US?
The following types of bets are likely to be accepted in any US states that legalize and regulate online sports betting:
Do DFS sites offer sports betting?
Yes, both FanDuel and DraftKings have online sportsbooks up and running in New Jersey.
FanDuel, which became The FanDuel Group when it was bought by Betfair US, recently opened its physical sportsbook in West Virginia (at The Greenbrier) and is likely to launch online sports betting in the near future.
Boston based DraftKings, who is partnered with Resorts for its online sportsbook in New Jersey, recently announced plans to open offices in New York, California and Las Vegas. Needless to say, it’s clear DraftKings has its eyes on a country-wide sports betting expansion.