Online sports betting and other forms of wagering have been restricted for some time, with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 preventing fans from placing bets on games. Some exemptions existed, but this mostly only favored Nevada and a few other states.
In 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled that this law was unconstitutional, paving the way for states to set their own rules on sports books. This means that, unlike many European countries, where laws are uniform across the territory, Americans living just a few miles from each other may be subject to very different laws on betting.
American States Where Online Sports Betting is Legal
Nevada and New Jersey were some of the first to take advantage of this, passing legislation almost immediately. As of July 2020, there are 12 states that allow online sports betting in the country, although they each have different rules.
New Jersey offers the widest range of online sports betting with around 17 different licensed sports books. Online casinos are also legal, meaning New Jersey-ites can enjoy new slot games in 2020 as well as betting on a wide array of sports.
Online sports betting is possible in Nevada, but you must first create your account while inside a physical casino first.
Sports betting websites have been operating since 2019, with a broad selection of bookmakers to choose from. Users can sign up, deposit and place wagers from their computer or mobile device, but there are some restrictions on in-game betting.
Most major online bookmakers operate in Pennsylvania where online wagering has been allowed since 2019. The state is a big market since it has one of the biggest populations in the country and a high proportion of sports fans.
First allowed in May 2020, sports fans in Colorado already have a good selection of sports books to choose from. It also has some of the most liberal rules surrounding sports betting, with online registration and depositing, no in-game restrictions and wagers on college teams allowed.
Illinois passed legislation that allowed online sports betting in June 2019 but the first brands didn’t begin accepting registrations until Q1 of 2020. Existing physical casinos in the state have an 18-month head start over national online brands.
After sports betting was permitted in May 2019, several sports books have begun operating in the state. However, until 2021 fans must visit a sports book or casino in-person to create their account.
Mississippi first legalized sports betting in 2018, but it requires bets to be placed inside a casino, even if the customer wants to use their smartphone.
New Hampshire has allowed sports betting since July 2019 although wagering from a smartphone wasn’t permitted for another 5 months. Only a handful of brands operate in the state right now, but more are expected to open soon.
Sports betting is allowed in Oregon but only through the state-operated Oregon Lottery.
Rhode Island is the only state to allow betting at 18 instead of 21. However, like Oregon, it’s only permitted through the state lottery.
Sports betting in West Virginia has been legal since August 2019, with full online and mobile services allowed.
Which Will be the 13th State?
While there are still 38 states that don’t allow sports betting, it is expected that many more will pass legislation that will change this in the coming months and years. Some of these are expected to do so much quicker than others, including:
- Kentucky – A bill to legalize sports betting was blocked earlier in 2020, but commentators believe this to only be a temporary hurdle
- Ohio – In May 2020, the Ohio House Finance Committee voted to progress a bill that will legalize sports betting in the state. It was approved by the House the next day but still needs to be approved by the Senate.
- Connecticut – Like Kentucky, a bill had been progressing in early 2020 but it has been hit many hurdles.
- Maryland – A bill was approved by the Senate in early March 2020 but it’s not yet clear when it will be approved by the House.
- Missouri – The state of Missouri has been considering sports betting for some time, but there have been delays for it and other matters in recent months, meaning it’s not yet clear when it will pass.
Of these five, either Ohio or Maryland is likely to be the first to permit betting but these could still be derailed.