Sports Betting Online in the US: Legality & Laws

Online Sports Betting is Live in these States

New Jersey

New Jersey

Sports Betting is live and legal in NJ. We have expert reviews and the highest sign up bonuses for every Sportsbook. See the New Jersey Sportsbooks now!

Nevada

Nevada

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States with Legal Sports Betting

StateSports BettingOnline Sports Betting
Delaware YN
MississippiYN
NevadaYY
New JerseyYY
PennsylvaniaYN
Rhode IslandYN
West VirginiaYN

Status of Legal Sports Betting in US States

Gambling has been restricted in the United States from its founding, but we are in an era of change. The US Supreme Court removed a federally-imposed ban on state-sanctioned wagering earlier this year, and players are already seeing the effects.

Here is a roundup of developments by state:

Nevada

Nevada first offered sports gambling in 1949, and has been the only state to legally offer sports betting for many years. Despite losing its monopoly, the state retains a large advantage. In terms of infrastructure, talent and experience, Nevada is at the forefront of a newly-energized market.

New Jersey

New Jersey passed a referendum to legalize gambling in 2011, and removed its own anti-gambling laws. The Supreme Court overturned restrictions, and New Jersey’s first legal wagers were made on June 14, 2018. Online sports betting was launched in July.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is positioned to take advantage of the new environment. The state legalized sports betting in 2017. Casinos are allowed to use a temporary betting facility before becoming fully operational. The state’s law permits betting “by any system or method,” including the internet.

Mississippi

Moving quickly after the Court’s ruling, Mississippi is one of four states to offer legal sports betting. The state’s 2017 law changes to allow wagering cleared the path, making Mississippi is the first Southern state to take advantage of the new environment. Online wagering is currently limited to licensed facilities.

West Virginia

West Virginia legalized sports gambling in September 2018: the 5th state to join in. State laws enacted in March 2018 permit sports betting in West Virginia’s existing gambling facilities. Wagering by mobile device is also allowed.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is expected to have legal sports betting by October 2018. Prior referendums authorized two casinos, and the state legislature moved earlier this year to formally permit sports betting. Wagering is limited to these two facilities, but state officials have expressed interest in eventual expansion online.

California
California has operating land based casinos, but no sportsbooks. California will the be crowning glory in legalization of online sportsbooks. The number of bettors and action is thought to exceed all other states. There has been legislation introduced for sports betting, but nothing has been passed yet.

Delaware
Delaware has legalized sports gambling and a number of land based sportsbooks are currently operating. There are no mobile or online apps available yet.

States Where You Can Legally Bet on Sports (Land Based & Online)

The only state with legal gambling for many years, Nevada is still the main player. There are a variety of legal offerings by land-based sportsbooks. Online wagering is available through mobile apps connected to those sites.

Delaware began regulated sports betting in June. The state began offering internet gambling in 2012, with three land-based casinos operating on the same platform. The existing casinos probably meet the state’s capacity, as Delaware is small and has less than a million residents. Delaware’s Gaming Enforcement does have discretion on internet offerings, and has signaled a favorable outlook.

New Jersey began accepting wagers in June, and online sports betting started in July. There are currently eight land-based locations for sports betting in the state, with more expected soon. The first online betting app was DraftKings Sportsbook, which opened in early August 2018. A FanDuel Sportsbook was rolled out at the Meadowlands soon after.

Mississippi began legal sports betting in August, and has five land-based casino locations. There are no provisions for online gambling beyond these sites, but more are expected to open.

West Virginia finalized regulations in August, and began issuing licenses for sportsbooks inside existing casinos. Penn National at the Hollywood Casino was the first license awarded, and FanDuel Sportsbook is partnering with The Greenbrier. There is no online gambling in the state currently.

Pennsylvania has ramped up gambling options in recent years, and the state now has a land-based network of slots and 12 casinos—with another on the way in the Stadium district in Philadelphia. In October 2017, a significant gambling package was made law, which authorizes online sports betting and a host of other offerings.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling, Rhode Island established sports books in their two operating casinos. These are expected to roll out in October 2018. Currently there are no laws for online gambling: the focus is on getting sports betting in place for football season. The regulatory climate is favorable, however, and online sports betting is likely to follow.

Two states, Oregon and Montana, have had limited forms of gambling recently. The Oregon Lottery is likely to revive gambling operations, which were closed in 2007 for the NCAA. Montana allows limited gambling in licensed taverns, and proposals are being made for the state legislature next year.

Daily Fantasy Sports Sites Positioned Well

Two companies are well placed in the new environment for online sports betting: Boston-based DraftKings and FanDuel out of New York City. Both companies have built a user base through daily fantasy sports gaming, and are moving into relationships to bring legalized sports betting online.

DraftKings Sportsbook: DraftKings was the first company to produce a mobile sports app that was played with actual currency. The brand has a well-established user base, and is officially launching its first Sportsbook before football season. The project’s lead, Dan Hannigan-Daley, expresses optimism, saying that “75% of our users are already betting on sports in some capacity.”

The company’s mobile app will be the first in New Jersey, in partnership with Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino. Bets must be placed within the state’s borders, but the DraftKings sportsbook is not tied to any specific physical location.

FanDuel Sportsbook: The second largest player in the US daily fantasy sports internet market is FanDuel. Formed in 2009, the company has both the user base and technology to expand quickly into online sports betting. FanDuel has opened its first sportsbook at the Meadowlands, and has a deal with The Greenbriar in West Virginia.

FanDuel was bought by a European gaming company, Paddy Power Betfair, just after the Court’s favorable decision. This expands FanDuel’s reach and increases its financial holdings, allowing the brand to pay off its debts and prepare for future expansion.

Laws that Led to This Point in Sports Betting History

Gambling has a checkered history in America. Early hotspots of wagering like New Orleans or the 1850’s Gold Rush San Francisco were stifled by concerned citizens, and gambling was basically prohibited in the country by the early 20th century.

In hopes of economic relief, Depression-era Nevada legalized gambling. After WWII, gambling prohibition strengthened across the country–and Nevada became an opportune investment.

The Interstate Wire Act was passed in 1961, which prohibited the use of wire communications to “assist in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest.” The Act was intended to target organized crime, but its use was expanded.

The Seminole Indian tribe established a gambling facility in 1979—opening the door to a wave of casino operations on reservation lands.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), was enacted in 1992 to halt the advance of legalized sports betting. The law allowed some gambling locales to be grandfathered, including Nevada casinos and state-run lotteries in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana.

PASPA faced a number of legal challenges. The American Sports Betting Coalition, still going strong, was created as a pro-repeal initiative by Indian gaming interests and the American Gaming Association.

New Jersey voted out its anti-gambling laws in 2014, creating a challenge to the PASPA restrictions. Sports leagues and the NCAA filed suit against New Jersey’s actions, and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court.

On May 14, the Court decided PASPA was unconstitutional. The decision leaves the question of legalized sports betting to the states.

How Sentiment in the United States Has Evolved

Influence of Money

Gambling in America has historically gone through eras of sentiment. The mixed feelings of the average citizen are reflected in swings of public opinion, which have alternated between prohibitions of wagering and the relaxing of restrictions.

Economics is seen as an instigator of gambling’s fortunes—but it works both ways. Gambling flourishes in prosperous times as part of the enjoyment good times bring. Ironically the same enthusiasm for gambling can develop during bad times too, in hopes it might provide needed revenue.

From a citizen’s perspective, maneuvering by public officials seems motivated by the money which gambling represents. Prohibitions are seen as turf battles instead of true reflections of high-flown sentiments.

Involvement of Sports Leagues

After early scandals involving wagering, major sports leagues were seized with panic. In particular, the Black Sox scandal of 1919 caused such a furor in public confidence that a new commissioner was established—the first in organized sports—to make integrity the league’s top priority.

This attitude brought the leagues together in 1992 to support PASPA. The ruling allowed the leagues to thwart legalization of wagering, even to the point of restricting the new online medium.

Public perception has shifted, so it is expected the sport leagues will find a way to make the transition. Indeed, it seems they already have: recent efforts have refocused to grabbing a share. Here is a short rundown of the leagues and how their stance has recently changed.

National Basketball Association (NBA)

The NBA has been a supporter of legalizing sports wagering, and its Commissioner Adam Silver is a longtime proponent. Silver sees potential benefit in increased fan engagement with the sport.

Silver is also adamant about enacting effective regulation to protect basketball’s integrity. The NBA seeks a share of gambling profits, claiming costs of future efforts needed to safeguard the sport’s integrity.

National Football League (NFL)

No league has spoken more about integrity and standing firm against gambling than America’s favorite sport … nor have any been so quick to reach for a slice. After the Supreme Court’s decision, the NFL publicly stated their intent to lobby Congress for a share.

Major League Baseball (MLB)

Major League Baseball challenged New Jersey’s tactics, treading a careful line in light of experience with gambling scandal. In 2017, Baseball Commissioner Fred Manfred spoke on the proposed changes and stated the MLB’s position as seeking “to meaningfully engage and shape” the new regulatory scheme.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

The NCAA has been a longtime opponent of legalized sports betting, taking the position that legalized sports wagering poses a threat to athletes and the integrity of competition. In the recent past, the NCAA has banned on-air advertising during its championship events by the two main daily fantasy game brands, DraftKings and FanDuel.

The NCAA appears to be reconsidering its stance. NCAA President Mark Emmert recently suggested a change of policy in favor of legalized wagering, claiming the board is having “active discussions about that issue.”

Betting on a Bright Future

With the US Supreme Court’s removal of legal restrictions against sports betting, the gambling industry is changing rapidly. As the number and kind of betting establishments increase, we can expect to see more opportunities for advertisements for betting, something that is certain to increase the customer base, especially among youth.

One example is the negotiations underway to bring sportsbook action to Buffalo Wild Wings, a restaurant chain that began as a collegiate attraction and which models its interiors to imitate the inside of an actual sports stadium.

If we look overseas to nations that have a mature gambling industry in place, we can see sponsorships from betting companies becoming an integral part of professional sports.

Wagering is set to expand beyond sports. In Britain—one of the most highly developed gambling markets—bookmaker Ladbrokes hired an aircraft banner to tout the odds they were giving on the name of their queen’s recent great-grandchild, which hovered above the hospital as the Duchess in question was in labor.

Whatever the future, it seems almost certain to be lucrative for gambling interests.

Challenges and Benefits of Sports Betting in Other Countries

Gambling is restricted in many places overseas, but Europeans are more welcoming. In fact, many of the large variety of casino card and dice games were invented and popularized in Europe. There are certain areas of Europe that place greater restrictions on gambling, such as Germany and Norway, but the attitude is largely one of integration and acceptance.

The positive aspects of gambling are not limited to economics. The socializing that gambling promotes have benefited many European countries, and this internationalization has helped other cultures too. For example, Hong Kong owes its prominence and “melting pot” character partly to a sizeable gaming industry.

Challenges to Learn from

Gambling may impact individuals and families. To alleviate the problem, there is often a nominal tax on gambling.

Another challenge is to the sports themselves, because wagering increases incentives to cheat or collude for a certain game result. Sports affected by wagering must maintain an image of integrity, so spectators retain trust in the outcome.

How Gambling has benefited Nevada

Nevada has had legalized gambling for many decades, and has benefited from both gaming and tourism-related revenue. The influx of visitors that come for the gambling amenities also bring in money for the general economy, including food service, lodging, and transportation.

Another benefit Nevada has seen from its gambling industry is in construction and maintenance of facilities. The airline and hotel services have been strong for many years, and now the location is a destination for both travel and retirement.

Potential Benefits of Legalized Gambling

One primary prospective benefit of legalized gambling is an increase in tax revenue. The American Gaming Association (AGS) estimates an additional $26 billion being generated in economic activity from legalized gambling.

Adding to that total is money currently being wagered illegally. The AGS estimates that well over $100 billion is now going to illicit gambling operations. Bringing in just a fraction of this amount represents a significant growth of future tax dollars.

According to these estimates, legalized gambling will contribute as much as $5 billion to the general economy of the states. Approximately 152,000 jobs paying over $7 billion in wages are projected.

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Sam Shefrin is the founder of Lineups.com, Inc. He started Daily Fantasy Cafe, Inc. in 2014 and before that SEO Services Los Angeles, Inc. Armed with a passion for sports and every Atlanta team, the journey continues. He has been quoted on Forbes.com for industry insight and his websites featured on NBATV, Yahoo! Sports, Fantasy Pros, Bleacher Report and SB Nation.