Where is online sports betting legal in the US?
Sports betting has long been a popular pastime amongst students, whether that has been a friendly wager between friends over the Superbowl or fantasy league competitions. Up until very recently, however, any online sports betting in the US has been at best “grey market” and at worst outright illegal thanks to the draconian anti-gambling laws.
In May of 2018, the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) and with that decision opened the floodgates to legalised online sports betting across the country. Each state is now responsible for their own laws regarding sporting wagers, and that has meant that in less than two years 14 states (and the District of Columbia) have legalised the practice, with many others looking to follow suit.
There does not appear to be an online sportsbook operating in Illinois just yet, but the state legalised in-person and online sports betting late last year, so it is only a matter of time until an operator opens up in the state.
DratKings, FanDuel, and BetRivers have all opened sportsbooks in Indiana since the state made online sports betting legal back in October last year, so there is plenty of choice for players already available.
Iowa lawmakers legalised online sports betting last summer, but they added some red tape to slow down the growth of the industry – until at least 2021 those looking to bet online will first have to visit a licensed casino within the state to open an account.
Similar to Illinois, online sports wagering has been legal since late last year, but none of the major operators have opened up shop in the state just yet.
This southern state may have legalised online sports betting, but by requiring those who want to place a wager to visit a casino property to do so somewhat defeats the point of legalisation. Nonetheless one tribal casino has spotted the direction of change and already launched its own sports betting app to be used whilst players are location at its property.
New Hampshire legalised online sportsbooks in June 2019, but players can only place wagers through the official joint venture between DraftKings and the state lottery, so there is currently no competition.
Nevada is home to Las Vegas and much of the United States online casino industry, and so was exempt from the PAPSA regulations in the first place. As such they have long offered legal avenues for online sports betting, with the apps and websites backed by the glamorous casinos located on the Las Vegas strip. However, similar to the Iowa state laws, initial accounts must be created in-person at a casino office.
Oregon allows sports wagers exclusively through its state lottery, so players will need to download the Oregon Scoreboard mobile app to place online bets.
Home to Atlantic City and Donald Trump’s failed casino ambitions, New Jersey was one of the first states to legalise online sports betting in the US and now has FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, Fox Bet, Unibet, Parx, and Sugarhouse all offering onlinesportsbooks in the state.
Pennslyvania was an early mover in legalising sports betting, and like New Jersey has strong competition between FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, Fox Bet, Unibet, Parx, and Sugarhouse.
Rhode Island has had legal sports betting for a year now, offering players the chance to place wagers exclusively through a joint venture between the state’s lottery and bookmaker William Hill.
Tennessee has legalised online sports betting, and whilst there does not appear to be a sportsbook open in the state yet that will likely change sometime this year.
West Virginia lawmakers made online sports betting legal just in time for the start of the 2019 NFL season and both DraftKings and FanDuel have already launched operations in the state.
It is difficult to predict how state lawmakers will vote when gambling legalisation legislation is put in front of them, with there good reasons on both sides of the debate. However, almost every state will vote on a bill over the coming couple of years, with only Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming without any plans at all.
Photograph by Paul