Sports betting is massive business all over the world. The United States makes up a significant part of gambling’s global $3 trillion markets with the 2019 Super Bowl attracting a whopping $6 billion worth of bets – the majority of which were placed online.
However, the US sport betting market would be even bigger if all 50 states permitted the practice. Currently, just over half of the states allow it – or have started the process of legalization.
Keeping track of this complex situation can be extremely challenging. It does not help that many states are currently in the process of updating their online gambling laws either.
If you want to know exactly where you can bet legally on the internet in the United States, check out our one-stop guide below.
While some states remain firmly opposed to online sports betting, an increasing amount have allowed the practice over the past decade or so, with more betting sites being approved in these states as time goes on. Overall, there are 14 states in which online sports betting is permitted:
Legalized in 2019 with sportsbooks going live on 1 May 2020.
Legalized in 2019 with sportsbooks going live in March 2020.
Legalized in 2019 with sportsbooks going live in September 2019.
Legalized in 2019 with sportsbooks going live in January 2021.
Legalized in December 2019 with sportsbooks going live in May 2019.
The first state to allow online sports betting. For many years it was the only place to allow the practice.
- New Hampshire
Legalized in 2019 with sportsbooks going live in December 2019.
- New Jersey
The first state to legalise after PASPA was overturned (more on that soon). There are now 17 licensed betting sites, they first started to go live in August 2018.
Legalized in August 2019 with sportsbooks going live in October.
Legalized in 2018 with sportsbooks opening in 2019.
- Rhode Island
Legalized in 2019 with sportsbooks opening the same year.
Legalized in April 2019 with sportsbooks going live in November 2020.
Legalized April 2002 with sportsbooks going live in January 2021.
- West Virginia
Legalized in September 2018 with sportsbooks going live the following month.
Washington D.C. also allows sports betting, while online-only sportsbooks are set to open in Wyoming at some point in 2021.
The driving force behind this recent spate in legalization was New Jersey. For many years the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 prevented states from permitting sports betting.
In 2011, the NJ state legislature passed the Sports Wagering Act which allowed bets to be placed at casinos and racetracks. Seven years later they led a challenge against PASPA, arguing it was against the 10th Amendment which reserves all powers not delegated by the constitution to the states.
Their challenge was successful, opening the door for states to make their own decision about sports betting.
So, this is how the process started but it does not explain why so many states have rushed to legalize afterwards. A key factor is money. A regulated sports betting industry can be a great way for states to bolster their tax revenues. These funds can then be spent on regeneration projects, improving the quality of life of its citizens.
In addition, having a regulated sports betting industry can prevent the rise of illegal gambling. Not only does this bring crime to a state, but it also prevents revenue being siphoned off to the black market.
There has been a domino effect going on as well. When a neighboring state legalizes sports betting, that state next door is likely to follow suit to prevent losing business from people crossing the border to wager.
Some states remain suspicious of online sports betting but that does mean that they outlaw wagering altogether. Unlike in the past where gambling was suppressed across the country an increasing number of ‘conservative’ states are coming round.
States that permit ‘brick and mortar’ sportsbooks but not their online equivalents include North Carolina, Montana and New York – although online betting is coming in the latter. In these in-person only states, bettors will have to travel to a betting shop or land-based casino to place their bets.
With online betting becoming increasingly prevalent, though, it is widely expected that this will change over the next decade.
While progress has been stark over the past few years, there are a few states that remain stoically committed to preventing their citizens from betting on sports in any form.
The standard bearer for anti-gambling sentiment in the United States is Utah. Setting up an online betting platform in the state is a third-degree felony and the situation is extremely unlikely to change anytime soon. Opposition to betting is mentioned in the state’s constitution, meaning legalization will be impossible without federal intervention.
Utah is not the only anti-gambling state. Both Idaho and Wisconsin do not seem likely to join the rest of the union is beginning the process towards legalization.
Despite this, these three states are very much the exception rather than the rule. Across the board, commentators are predicting that the legalization of online sports betting will only become more commonplace in the 2020s.