U.S. Sports Betting — Where You Can Make Legal Sports Bets And Full State-By-State Information

The availability of legal online sportsbooks and brick-and-mortar sportsbook lounges is rapidly increasing in the United States. This is cause for celebration for Americans interested in safe, legal sports betting options.

Las Vegas has long been the sports betting mecca in the U.S., but New Jersey has taken over as the leading sports betting state based on handle. Pennsylvania and Illinois are rising too, and now over 20 states permit at least some form of legal sports betting since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports wagering in May 2018. At Sports Handle we deliver sports betting news with original reporting, industry coverage, analysis and opinion, betting tools, sportsbook reviews, and more.

If or when legal sports betting comes to your state, we’ll have you covered on everything you need to know about state-licensed sportsbooks and legal U.S. sports betting sites. The sections below provide a history of sports betting in the U.S., along with a state-by-state breakdown of the current legal status of sports wagering, relevant industry stakeholders, and links to a bevy of educational resources.

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Is sports betting legal in my state?

The number of legal U.S. sports betting states has grown incrementally and rather quickly, compared with marijuana’s legalization. Some states’ legislative sessions conclude early in the year, while others last year round. There are “special sessions” too, which means that new states may legalize at various points throughout the year.

What states have sports betting?

The table below outlines where and how you can place legal sports bets in the U.S. Go to each of our individual state pages (on dropdown or linked below) for detailed information on that state’s legal sportsbooks.

StateOnline Sports BettingRetail Sports Betting
ArizonaYesYes
ArkansasNoYes
Colorado
YesYes
ConnecticutYesYes
DelawareNoYes
FloridaYes, but legal challenges are ongoingYes, but legal challenges are ongoing
IllinoisYesYes
IndianaYesYes
IowaYesYes
LouisianaComing in late 2021Yes
MaineLikely 2022Likely 2022
MarylandComing in 2022Coming in 2022
MichiganYesYes
MississippiNoYes
MontanaNoYes
NebraskaNoComing in 2022
NevadaYesYes
New HampshireYesYes
New JerseyYesYes
New MexicoNoYes
New YorkComing in 2022Yes
North CarolinaNoYes
North DakotaNoYes, but operating in a legal gray area
OregonYesYes
PennsylvaniaYesYes
Rhode IslandYesYes
South DakotaNoYes
TennesseeYesNo
VirginiaYesComing soonish
WashingtonNoYes
Washington D.C.YesYes
West VirginiaYesYes
WyomingYesNo

How much legal betting handle and tax revenue have legal sports betting states generated?

Go here to our full, detailed legal sports betting revenue tracker if you’re interested in learning about:

  • The amount of legal sports bets (in dollars) made in each state since May 2018
  • The “hold” percentage (percentage of bets kept by licensed sportsbooks)
  • Sportsbook revenue generated in each state
  • Total state taxes collected in each jurisdiction
StateTotal HandleGross Revenue Win RateGross Sportsbook RevenueAdjusted Sportsbook RevenueState Taxes CollectedLegal Betting Start Date
Arkansas$95,715,05213.05%$12,494,241$12,494,241$1,744,272July 2019
Colorado$3,604,938,5536.54%$235,786,292$97,509,779$10,666,729May 2020
Delaware$409,472,81419.14%$78,370,272$57,697,140$29,251,096June 2018
District of Columbia$241,768,44014.36%$34,724,152$34,724,152$3,468,534May 2020
Illinois$6,494,724,6877.47%$484,957,906$484,957,906$72,743,685March 2020
Indiana$5,107,342,4958.08%$412,597,502$412,597,502$39,196,769September 2019
Iowa$2,275,148,5806.23%$141,676,772$141,676,772$9,854,643August 2019
Michigan$2,583,952,4659.15%$236,397,736$117,921,828$5,786,531March 2020
Mississippi$1,275,226,04911.55%$147,330,727$147,330,727$17,687,158August 2018
Montana$56,215,81414.02%$7,882,260$7,882,260$7,882,535
March 2020
Nevada$17,570,497,613
6.21%$1,091,999,000$1,091,999,000$73,742,5441975
New Hampshire$729,005,2627.22%$52,633,301$52,633,301$24,262,766December 2019
New Jersey$20,295,325,7827.07%$1,434,207,675$1,434,207,675$176,861,956June 2018
New Mexico----October 2018
New York$320,572,76511.58%$37,113,198$37,113,198$3,729,280June 2019
Oregon$528,701,1938.77%$46,368,549$46,368,549$46,368,549August 2019
Pennsylvania$10,128,765,0927.57%$766,794,614$533,954,087$181,544,393November 2018
Rhode Island$768,114,1029.13%$70,167,148$70,167,148$36,239,459November 2018
South Dakota$443,36516.09%$71,320$71,320$6,419September 2021
Tennessee$2,334,776,0008.78%$204,948,908$177,218,590$35,763,918November 2020
Washington----TBD
Virginia$1,965,253,0878.95%$175,883,226$81,031,363$12,631,532January 2021
West Virginia$1,069,254,5858.06%$86,176,615$86,176,615$7,325,013August 2018
Wyoming$6,242,46915.24%$951,267($123,970)$0September 2021
Totals$77,861,456,264--$5,759,532,681$5,125,609,183$796,757,781

Market snapshot by state

The following section provides a glance at the markets:

  1. In states that have legalized sports betting and where operations are live
  2. In states that legalized where operations are pending/forthcoming

Legal operations up and running:

Arizona

  • Market launch date: September 2021
  • Online: Yes, and you can register online
  • Brands: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, WynnBET, Unibet, Caesars Sportsbook all launched on September 9th, day 1 of the Arizona betting industry.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Official numbers coming soon. Many Arizona casinos and sports venues alike will have retail betting options available.
  • Notes: Arizona got things done in a hurry. HB 2772 passed in April 2021, paving the way for legal retail and online sports betting. With Gubernatorial support in place, Arizona sports betting was able to launch in September 2021. Laws allow for as many as 20 online sportsbooks, plus retail betting. Both sports teams / venues and state tribes are involved.

Arkansas

  • Market launch date: July 2019
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Three so far — at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Southland Casino in West Memphis, and Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff. One additional casino is slated to be built in Pope County, but construction has yet to begin.
  • Online: No — not yet legal.
  • Notes: The state legalized sports betting through a ballot referendum in November 2018 that authorized four casinos in the state — two at existing racetracks and two new ones. So far the market is very limited. The sportsbook at Oaklawn is powered by SBTech. The Southland sportsbook is run by Betly.

Colorado

  • Market launch date: May 2020
  • Online: Yes
  • Brands: Just about all of them. Numerous national and international and regional brands have entered a growing market that saw a shotgun launch on May 1, 2020 when FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, BetMGM, and BetRivers all went live at the same time. The Las Vegas-based SuperBook and Circa Sports have also made forays outside Nevada to the Centennial state. PointsBet, William Hill, WynnBET, BetAmerica, Betfred, theScore Bet, MaximBet, PlayUp, Elite Sportsbook, BetWildwood, and Barstool Sportsbook have all since entered Colorado as well. Additional operators are coming to the state seemingly every month.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Each of Colorado’s 33 commercial and tribal casinos are eligible to apply for online and retail sports betting licenses. Most of them have applied for and obtained at least temporary licenses. Sportsbooks have opened at casinos in Black Hawk, Cripple Creek, and Central City, Colo.
  • Notes:  The monthly handle has continued to grow month-over-month since sports betting went live in May 2020. With a low tax rate (10%) and license fees running just $125K, Colorado is a very attractive target for online sportsbook operators. Table game wagers at state casinos are capped at just $100, but there will be no such limit on sports betting. PointsBet has its U.S. headquarters in Denver.
  • Mile High:  The Denver Broncos have signed up multiple sportsbook sponsors — FanDuel, BetMGM and Betfred. The Broncos were the first NFL team to enter such a partnership.

Connecticut

  • Market launch date: October 2021
  • Online: Yes
  • Brands: Three – DraftKings, FanDuel, and Play SugarHouse
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Two – One at Mohegan Sun Casino and one at Foxwoods Casino
  • Notes: The state’s two mega-influential tribes haggled with the state for several years before coming up with a compromise that saw the two tribal casinos and the state lottery commission each getting a mobile sports betting license. Retail kiosks will also be available throughout the state at some point in the future. The three sportsbooks all went live online on October 19, 2021.

Delaware

  • Market launch date: June 2018
  • Online: Although state officials believe existing law permits online wagering, no online sportsbooks are yet approved or available.
  • Number of land-based books in state: Three — at Delaware Park Casino, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway & Casino.
  • Notes: The Delaware Lottery currently operates and has jurisdiction over sports betting. The Lottery has agreements with both Scientific Games and William Hill to manage its sports betting systems. In accordance with pre-existing (or pre-PASPA) rules, Delaware residents can also make parlay wagers (3 legs or more) on NFL contests at retail/convenience store locations throughout the state.

Florida

  • Market launch date: November 1, 2021
  • Online: Yes
  • Brands: One – Hard Rock Sportsbook. Additional operators may come to the state, but not before 2022.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Up to six.
  • Notes: Due to a negotiated compact that sees the state receiving at least $500 million each year in revenue, the Seminole tribe has exclusive rights to sports betting in the state, and will likely open retail sportsbooks at its six existing casinos in addition to operating its online Hard Rock Sportsbook. Other operators may come to the state eventually, but for the near future the Seminoles are the only game in town.

Illinois

  • Market launch date: March 2020.
  • Online: Yes, but remote registration is not permitted. The state law requires patrons to register in person at casino/sportsbooks to establish accounts. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, Gov. J.B. Pritzker suspended that requirement via executive order several times during 2020 and into 2021. In April 2021 he did not renew the suspension, which means that people have to go to the retail casino in order to sign up for an account. The situation has been chaotic, fluid, contentious and unpredictable, and people are really not happy the Governor let the suspension lapse. 
  • Brands: Current online brands are BetRivers, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, Barstool Sportsbook, and Caesars Sportsbook.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: There are live, retail sportsbooks throughout the state. They include the sportsbooks at the Rivers Casino and Argosy Casino Alton. The Illinois Lottery is permitted to place up to 5,000 sports betting kiosks around the state that can accept parlay wagers during the first two years of operation, but has not yet done so.
  • Notes: Some lobbying from the casino powers secured a “head start” for them over online-only operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings, which have dominated the New Jersey market. At least that was the intention until both giants found a way around the provision. Three “master online licenses” will eventually become available, at a cost of $20 million each, to stand-alone mobile and online sportsbooks. A market for those, at this point, may not exist.
  • Path to legalization: The state legalized sports wagering in June 2019 via a massive capital bill, SB 690, that included the framework for legal sports betting.

Indiana

  • Market launch date: September 2019
  • Online: Yes, and remote registration is permitted
  • Brands: Licensed casinos are allowed to contract with up to three brands for mobile/online sports wagering. BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, Unibet, Caesars Sportsbook, theScore Bet, Barstool Sportsbook, Betway, and TwinSpires have all launched in the state. Other major operators like FOX Bet and PlayUp are expected to arrive in the coming months.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: 14
  • Notes: Indiana’s market is shaped to closely resemble that of New Jersey, especially in that each license holder is allowed to offer up to three “skins” or online brands. Betting handle has grown quickly to a record-breaking $348.2 million in January 2021 and over $3.6 billion total, resulting in $27.7 million in tax revenue for the state in just two years.
  • Path to legalization: There were big proponents but also doubts whether legalization would come together in 2019. However, the state legislature delivered legal sports betting through gambling expansion bill HB 1015, passed in May 2019. Initially, mobile sports betting was stripped from the bill, but it was added back in later.

Iowa

  • Market launch date: August 2019
  • Online: Yes, and on Jan. 1, 2021, the requirement that patrons register in person at a casino to open an online sports betting account was waived. People can now sign up online from anywhere in the state.
  • Brands: Caesars Sportsbook, Elite Sportsbook, PointsBet, Q Sportsbook, BetMGM, BetRivers, Hard Rock, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetFred, theScore Bet, Bally Bet, Unibet, fubo Sportsbook, Circa, and Betway.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: 20
  • Notes: Iowa was the first state to launch retail and online sports betting simultaneously, on the same day. Iowa bettors now have plenty of options for wagering within the state. Of note: you can’t place in-game prop bets on in-state college teams like the Hawkeyes and Cyclones. 
  • Path to legalization: Iowa’s legislature began discussing legalization prior to PASPA’s fall in May 2018. Things moved along in 2019 with SF 617, which Gov. Kim Reynolds signed on May 13, a day before the anniversary of PASPA’s death. The first bets were placed in the state just a few months later on Aug. 15, 2019.

Louisiana

  • Market launch date: October 2021
  • Online: Yes. Each sportsbook licensed by the state qualifies for two online “skins.”
  • Brands: To be determined, but we expect Caesars Sports, FanDuel, Barstool Sportsbook, Bally Bet, TwinSpires, Golden Nugget, and DraftKings to be among the first operators to go live in LA due to their current involvement with the seven companies that own casinos in the state. Betfred was actually the first operator to go live due to their partnership with a tribe that was not bound to state regulations.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: To be determined. All 19 commercial casinos in the state are eligible to apply for a sportsbook license.
  • Notes: There’s still much work to be done on the regulation and rule-making front; retail sportsbooks have begun accepting wagers, but we do not expect online sports betting to be offered until 2022.
  • Path to legalization: On the Nov. 2020 ballot, voters in 56 of 64 parishes voted to allow sports betting, both in person and online. Louisiana sports betting will be geofenced within those 56 parishes.

Maryland

  • Market launch date: TBD, but likely sometime in 2022
  • Online: Yes, licenses will be available for both retail and online betting
  • Brands: The approved legislation allows for up to 60 (!) sportsbook licenses, though the actual number will be far less. All the biggest operators, including BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Barstool Sportsbook, FOX Bet, DraftKings, FanDuel, TwinSpires, and even possibly some local-only brands will end up going live in the state.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: TBD, but up to 40 retail licenses are available.
  • Notes: Maryland has put a particular focus in getting women and minorities involved in sports betting, with an emphasis on approving minority-owned businesses for retail sports betting licenses. Expect to see at least a few small businesses, such as restaurants and bars, operate their own small-scale sportsbooks.

Michigan

  • Market launch date: In March 2020 the first brick-and-mortar sportsbooks launched at Detroit’s three commercial casinos. Regulations for online betting (and iGaming) were still being finalized until January 2021, when the Michigan Gaming Control Board announced that 10 operators were approved to launch their online sportsbooks and online casinos on Jan. 22. (See chart above.)
  • Online: Yes. Each online sportsbook in Michigan is “tethered” to, or partnered with, a land-based casino.
  • Brands: Legislation allows for around 15 different brands in Michigan, one for each of the three commercial casinos, and one for each of the 12 tribes. BetRivers, PointsBet, DraftKings, FOX Bet, Parx, Golden Nugget, William Hill, WynnBET and TwinSpires all agreed to casino partnerships in early 2020. BetMGM and FanDuel entered through the MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino, respectively. Barstool also entered the market through its partnership with Greektown Casino while DraftKings arrived in Michigan through a partnership with Bay Mills Resort & Casino.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Michigan has the potential for more than 20 land-based sportsbooks as both commercial casinos and nearly two dozen tribal casinos around the state may open an on-premises lounge. Currently, about a dozen have opened.
  • Notes: Michigan bettors hit the jackpot in 2019 as their state approved sports betting and iGaming (including casino and poker), and formally approved daily fantasy sports — all at the same time.

Mississippi

  • Market launch date: August 2018
  • Online: Only on-premises at casinos/gaming facilities, i.e., not throughout the state.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: 29 — both commercial and tribal.
  • Notes: SEC betting and football wagering is huge in Mississippi. There was some effort in both 2019 and 2020 to legalize sports wagering online throughout the state, but it failed. Betting handle has stagnated and won’t increase much if online (off premises) remains unavailable. The physical casinos are concentrated in two areas of the state — in Biloxi on the Gulf Coast, and in Tunica in the northwestern part of the state near Arkansas and Tennessee.
  • Path to legalization: There was actually language in a 2017 bill that contemplated the repeal of PASPA and permitting legal wagering in that event. Well, it happened.

Montana

  • Market launch date: April 2020.
  • Online: Not statewide, only at state-sanctioned sites, mostly taverns and restaurants.
  • Brands: The Montana State Lottery is in charge of regulation and oversight and is using its existing vendor Intralot to run “SportsBet Montana” operations/kiosks in the state. The Intralot sportsbook offering in Montana is pretty poor, at best, with pricing well below industry standards.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Taverns and other approved locations may have sports betting kiosks on premises, where patrons can make legal sports bets.
  • Path to legalization: Legal gambling in Montana has been limited to video poker and keno machines in restaurants and taverns throughout the state. The “lottery bill” that Gov. Steve Bullock signed was backed by the powerful Montana Tavern Association, with the idea that kiosks could be placed in its members’ establishments, thereby driving business in the door. But the state legislature actually passed two sports betting bills, the other being SB 330, which would have also allowed commercial operators to enter the marketplace. However, Bullock vetoed it and the legislature failed to override. “For the market to succeed, Montana needs to enter the sports wagering market conservatively — adopting only one of the two models now,” he said in a May 2019 statement.

Nevada

  • Market launch date: Circa 1949.
  • Online: Yes, though in-person registration is still required.
  • Brands: Numerous.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Roughly 190 locations, not all of them full-fledged lounges. On Oct. 27, 2020, Circa Resort & Casino debuted an enormous new sportsbook destination with 1000-person capacity and stadium-style seating along with a 123-foot TV screen.
  • Notes: Nevada has been the Mecca of sports betting for decades and the epicenter for industry talent, some of which is leaving the state for other opportunities. The market is obviously very mature, while some new bookmakers and sportsbooks such as Derek Stevens’ Circa Sports are looking to make a splash in the desert. His Circa Sportsbook, 40% larger than the SuperBook, opened on Oct. 27, 2020. The total Nevada betting handle has exceeded $5 billion annually in recent years and over $600 million in peak months.

New Hampshire

  • Market launch date: December 2019
  • Online:  Yes, and in-person registration is not required.
  • Brands: Only DraftKings for now. The Boston-based operator reached an exclusive agreement to be the sole retail and online sports betting provider in New Hampshire. As a part of the deal it will pay half of its gross revenue back to the state.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks:  As many as 10 brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are permitted in New Hampshire. Many NH towns have already voted to approve them. On Aug. 14, 2020, the first land-based sportsbook opened at The Brook In Seabrook, near the border with Massachusetts. A second retail location opened at Filotimo Casino in Manchester.
  • Notes: Unlike most states, you only have to be 18 years old to bet on sports in New Hampshire.

New Jersey

  • Market launch date: June 2018
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: 11
  • Online: Permitted statewide; remote registration allowed. Online betting began in August 2018.
  • Brands: There are almost two dozen unique NJ online sportsbooks currently live, including: 888sport, BetAmerica/TwinSpires, Borgata Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, bet365, FOX Bet, theScore Bet, William Hill, DraftKings, PointsBet, PlaySugarHouse, Unibet, 888sport NJ, WynnBET Sportsbook, Caesars, Resorts, Tipico, Golden Nugget, and more.
  • Notes: New Jersey regularly boasts the highest state handle in the United States. State law restricts all betting on in-state college teams, and similarly prevents betting on any collegiate sporting event held within the state, regardless of the participants. Potential changes to these restrictions are being entertained, though.

New Mexico

  • Market launch date: October 2018
  • Online: Not permitted
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Five
  • Notes: Sportsbook operator USBookmaking was the first in state at the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel. William Hill entered the market through a partnership with the Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino in early 2019. Later the same year the Isleta Resort & Casino and the Hilton Buffalo Thunder all opened sportsbook facilities. As in many other states, the tribal-state compacts, revenue sharing arrangements, and exclusivity over gaming may stifle the launch of the online market.

New York

  • Market launch date: July 2019
  • Online: Coming soon, est. early 2022. NY online sports betting was a point of ongoing contention and debate. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office had previously taken the position that mobile sports wagering in NY would require a constitutional amendment, but in 2021 facing a massive budget deficit due in part to the COVID-19 crisis, Cuomo included sports betting revenue in his state budget. Cuomo’s preferred state-run model was chosen as the way forward for online betting in the state. While it won’t be the open market we hoped for, some ambiguity around the term ‘platform provider‘ opened the door to nine different online operators coming to New York.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Seven, located at both commercial casinos and tribal gaming properties.
  • Brands: FanDuel Sportsbook (Tioga Downs), The Lounge with Caesars (Turning Stone Casino Resort), Yellow Brick Road Casino, Points Place Casino, DraftKings Sportsbook (del Lago Resort & Casino), BetRivers (Rivers Casino & Resort), among others. PointsBet, BetMGM, Resorts World, Bally Bet, and WynnBET are also coming to the state.
  • Path to legalization: The Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act, passed in 2013, authorized four new commercial casinos, including sports wagering at those facilities (and tribal properties) in the event that federal law changed to permit legal sports betting. Obviously, that happened when the Supreme Court struck down PASPA.
  • Notes: The 2013 law did not permit mobile sports wagering statewide, which leaves New York in its position now where there are retail sportsbooks at great distances from the major population centers, at a time when more than 90% of bets are made on mobile/online in New Jersey. Thankfully the state is now moving forward with online betting, which will arrive in early 2022 or before.

Oregon 

  • Market launch date: August 2019.
  • Online:  Yes. Online sports betting went live in October 2019. You do not have to visit a casino to register in person.
  • Brands: ScoreBoard, the betting app from the Oregon Lottery and SBTech, is currently the only online betting option. Reviews have been mostly negative for its software and sportsbook offerings overall. Things have gone so poorly with ScoreBoard that the state has actually lost money on it. After seeing what a disaster it has been, the governor filed a new bill on Jan. 12, 2021 that would put the Oregon Racing Commission in charge of regulation and open up the marketplace to non-lottery brands.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Two — One on the tribal property Chinook Winds Casino Resort. ROAR Digital will open the second retail sportsbook at Spirit Mountain Casino.
  • Path to legalization: Oregon was one of just four states with sports betting grandfathered under PASPA, and thus did not need new legislation to move forward in the market.
  • Notes: It’s not currently legal to wager on any college sports whatsoever. Pro sports only.

Pennsylvania

  • Market launch date: November 2018.
  • Online: Yes
  • Brands: FanDuel Sportsbook, BetRivers, FOX Bet, Parx, Unibet, DraftKings, Caesars, BetAmerica/TwinSpires, BetMGM, PlaySugarHouse, BetFred, Borgata, etc. Barstool Sportsbook made its U.S. debut (online) in September 2020.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Thirteen
  • Path to legalization: In 2017, Pennsylvania was among a handful of states that preemptively legalized sports wagering in the event that federal law changed to permit the activity on the state level.
  • Notes: Online sports betting was slow to roll out as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was busy (and sluggish) developing regulations for both online casino gambling and sports wagering at the same time. But online sports betting finally arrived in May 2019 and has boomed since. Nearly 90% of bets placed in the state are done so online.

Rhode Island

  • Market launch date: November 2018
  • Online: Yes, legalized in March 2019. Sportsbook Rhode Island, powered by Caesars Sportsbook, accepted its first online bets on Sept. 4, 2019. Mobile bettors can place wagers via browser or use the mobile app. In-person registration is required at one of the Twin River Casino locations, however there is now an effort in the legislature to change the law to permit remote registration.
  • Brands: Both retail sportsbooks are operated by Caesars Sportsbook in conjunction with the Rhode Island Lottery. The online app operates under the Sportsbook Rhode Island name.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Two: Twin Rivers Casino Hotel and Tiverton Casino Hotel.
  • Notes: Rhode Island’s legislature passed its law legalizing sports wagering in June 2018. The sportsbooks took a serious $2.4 million beating from Super Bowl LIII and a $900K loss in February 2019 thanks to the regional favorite New England Patriots suffocating the Los Angeles Rams. (Perhaps also due to some poor risk management). In a unique revenue-sharing arrangement, the state lottery takes 51% of total sports wagering receipts, as supplier IGT keeps 32% and Twin Rivers 17%.

North Carolina

  • Market launch date: March 2021
  • Online: No, the current law only permits land-based sportsbooks
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Two
  • Path to legalization: North Carolina passed SB 154 in July 2019, legalizing sports betting at two tribal casinos. The casinos, Harrah’s Cherokee and Valley River, recently finished construction and opened their sportsbooks just in time for the NCAA basketball tournament in March 2021.
  • Notes: The bill allows for wagering on professional and collegiate sports, though it does nothing for mobile betting. Both retail sportsbooks are in the more rural, western part of the state. The impact on larger population centers may be minimal.

Tennessee

  • Market launch date: November 1, 2020.
  • Online: Yes, and since there are no retail locations, remote registration is the only way to register.
  • Brands: There is no limit to the number of operators that can become licensed in Tennessee. After a series of delays, DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and the local Tennessee Action 24/7 launched on Nov. 1, 2020. Tennessee Action has since run into some major issues. William Hill went live on March 11, 2021 and WynnBET went live on April 30, 2021. TwinSpires is poised to go live in the state sometime in 2021.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: None. Tennessee does not have any existing casinos/gaming entities. Sports betting will occur online only.
  • Path to legalization: Though many in the state are opposed to gambling, the Volunteer State legalized online/mobile-only sports betting in April 2019 with HB 1 (a substitute for SB 16). The law became effective on July 1, 2019. Regulation responsibility belongs to the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation (TELC), under advisement from the Sports Wagering Advisory Council.
  • Notes: Tennessee was the first state to approve online/mobile-only sports betting without a retail component. Licensed operators will be required to use “official league data” for in-play sports wagering. There’s a quirky new rule in TN, though: sportsbooks are required to keep at least 10% of bets, while the average hold in most jurisdictions is about 7.5%.  We’ll monitor how this plays out.

Virginia

  • Market launch date: January 22, 2021.
  • Online: Permitted, and the Virginia Lottery will shape the market as regulator. There will be at least four and up to 18 online sportsbooks entering the market, according to the law. But there could be more.
  • Brands: FanDuel, in partnership with the Washington Football Team, was first to launch by itself on Jan. 22, 2021. DraftKings, BetRivers, BetMGM, William Hill, WynnBET, Golden Nugget, and Unibet are also live in the state. PointsBet and bet365 will likely be the next to enter the market. Most or all of the other larger market share holders nationally will compete for entry.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: None yet.
  • Path to legalization: Virginia’s legislature and governor approved sports betting for both online and retail settings in April 2020, and the bill has an effective date of July 1, 2020.
  • Notes:  A professional sports team is preemptively authorized to open an on-premises sportsbook. Virginia does not currently have any professional sports franchises, but this could serve as a genuine carrot for those entertaining the idea of a move. Plus, training facilitates also count, which opens the door for the Washington Football Team and DC United.

Washington, D.C.

  • Market launch date: May 2020 (online)
  • Online: Yes, however…
  • Brands: Only the app supplied by the D.C. Lottery’s vendor Intralot — “GamBetDC” is available citywide. So far, reviews are not good, and competition from Virginia and Maryland (soon) may make things worse, or at least highlight the many shortcomings of the app.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Five maximum, located at the professional sport stadiums including Capital One Arena, home to the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals. The Caesars Sportsbook at Capital One opened in July 2020. In June 2021, BetMGM opened a similar sportsbook at Nationals Park, home of the MLB’s Washington Nationals. D.C.’s law allows for “Class B” licenses, meaning bars, restaurants and some other establishments are allowed to apply for a sports betting certificate and offer an app or perhaps kiosks available on-premises, as long as they’re located outside a two-block radius from the arenas, so-called “exclusivity zones.” So far a handful have opened.
  • Path to legalization: Windy and peppered with corruption. The Washington Post closely tracked the D.C. Council’s controversial awarding of the sports betting contract to Intralot — with benefits flowing to persons and groups connected to the D.C. Council. The council allowed a bypass of the traditional Request for Proposal process and made Intralot its sports betting vendor without considering other proposals.
  • Notes: Bypassing the RFP process and allowing the sole-sourcing deal to Intralot was based in large part on a dubious “study” by Spectrum Gaming Group in which the consultant suggested that the city’s platform should target a 20% or higher hold percentage in a business where 5 to 7 percent is more standard. In other words, this app may have a very high vig/overround, or a terrible product that keeps many people betting offshore.

Washington

  • Market launch date: Fall 2021
  • Online: Not permitted
  • Brands: So far FanDuel and BetMGM have announced partnerships with tribal casinos, but most casinos have opted to forgo traditional sportsbook branding.
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Pending, but each of the state’s 20+ tribal casinos will have the option to open a sportsbook.
  • Path to legalization: In early 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a tribal-backed bill permitting sports betting on-premises at tribal casinos only.
  • Notes: The measure saw some resistance for its exclusion of a statewide mobile component. Ultimately, the tribes’ powerful lobby prevailed. For now, tribal casinos do not view online sports betting as a possible revenue driver, but rather as a threat to foot traffic into casinos where slot machines generate higher and more reliable revenue.

West Virginia

  • Market launch date: August 2018
  • Online: Yes
  • Brands: FanDuel Sportsbook (The Greenbrier), DraftKings (Hollywood Casino Charles Town), William Hill (Mountaineer Casino Racetrack), BetMGM (The Greenbrier skin), and Betly Sportsbook (Mardi Gras, Wheeling Island).
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: Five
  • Notes: The Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island casinos have also agreed to a partnership with tech provider IGT and have reopened their retail sites under the Betly Sportsbook name after initially opening and closing a Miomni-backed brand. West Virginia also permits online casinos.

Wyoming

  • Market launch date: September 1, 2021
  • Online: Yes
  • Brands: DraftKings Sportsbook, BetMGM
  • Number of land-based sportsbooks: None, Wyoming only legalized online sports betting.
  • Notes: The legal age to bet in Wyoming is just 18 years old.

Other states to recently legalize or discuss the possibility

Many states that have not yet legalized sports betting are kicking around ideas for how to do so. Some have made a lot of progress, others are mired in disagreements involving the various stakeholders: existing casinos, lawmakers, state lotteries, tribes/tribal casinos, leagues, sportsbook operators, and vendors.

Among the states that have substantive discussions and debates legalizing sports wagering in some form in the next year or three, with or without mobile/online sports betting options:

  1. California – The site of a showdown between tribes and card rooms, which have battled over exclusivity to offering legal gambling for a long time. Lawmakers see a potential revenue source of over $500 million annually and are trying to broker a compromise.
  2. Georgia – There are no casinos in the state, however the pro sports teams based in Atlanta are pushing for legalization, and in 2021 the state Senate passed legislation to create a sports betting regulatory framework. The legislature has focused on the issue in recent years, but it now appears that sports betting won’t be coming to the state until 2023 at the earliest.
  3. Kansas – A bill has been introduced, and potential sportsbook operators are on board. No timetable for passage, as lawmakers have gone back and forth without progress.
  4. Kentucky – The conversation has been ongoing since 2018, but resistance from anti-gambling conservative groups has stifled passage.
  5. Maine – Maine came close, but Gov. Janet Mills vetoed a very consumer-friendly bill (for dubious reasons), and an attempted override of the veto failed. There’s optimism for 2022, however.
  6. Massachusetts – Lawmakers in Massachusetts continue to make progress in getting a bill passed to legalize sports betting, but they have yet to reach the finish line.
  7. Minnesota – They haven’t gotten very far, but there’s a light push to get something going. The tribes in the state are in no rush.
  8. Missouri – Lots of discussion and hearings, but no consensus. It seems likely 2020 will pass without anything getting done.
  9. Nebraska – Sports betting is coming to the Cornhusker state, but only at retail sportsbooks located at pari-mutuel race tracks. Bettors will not be able to wager on any in-state college teams, which is self-defeating in a state with such a passionate interest in college sports. Sports betting should go live in the state sometime in late 2021 or early 2022.
  10. Ohio – Sports betting will come to Ohio at some point. Legislation has been passed to establish a regulatory framework, but it has taken a long time to make any progress and it is still unclear when it will be finished.
  11. Oklahoma – Tribes in the state may be able to offer sports betting in the state, but the regulatory and legislative process is grinding slowly. It is still uncertain when sports betting will come to the state.
  12. South Dakota – Voters answered “yes” to ballot question in Nov. 2020 that would allow brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in Deadwood. The Governor signed on the dotted line in March, putting South Dakota and Deadwood bettors on a trajectory to launch in September 2021.
  13. Texas – After a flood of lobbying dollars, there’s now serious discussion for the first time to open casinos in Texas, and allow online betting too. The effort has the backing of prominent Texas pro team owners Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones.

For additional states that have seen activity or discussion, check the interactive map above.

Sports betting stakeholders: Impact on market, consumers

The present and future of U.S. sports betting will be shaped by the consumers — the American people — but also in large part by the various players who make the gears of sports and sports betting turn. Among them are sportsbook operators, sports leagues, casinos, and gaming facilities, including commercial casinos and Native American entities, as well as state and federal lawmakers and state lotteries.

In this section we discuss the general positions of the various stakeholders, their impacts and goals.

Sports leagues

The case that mercifully opened the door to legal sports betting across the U.S. was Murphy v NCAA. Indeed, the NCAA as well as the four major pro sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) were instrumental in getting PASPA through Congress in 1992 and in enforcing it by repeatedly blocking several state-level attempts to legalize sports wagering.

But in 2014, the brand new NBA commissioner at the time, Adam Silver, taking over after the retirement of longtime Commissioner David Stern, signaled a recognition of the future and reality: Legal sports betting is safe, better for (almost) everyone than rampant sports gambling in unmonitored, illegal markets, and it’s pretty darn good for the business of sports leagues. He generally penned this view in a New York Times op-ed, “Legalize And Regulate Sports Betting.” Still, the federal ban was enforced, and it took four more years for PASPA’s fatal blow.

Even before the high court ruled, the NBA and MLB (with the PGA Tour alongside) began lobbying state legislatures for the implementation of its preferred framework for legal sports betting, its “Model Legislation,” fleshed out and first presented in January 2018.

Among other things, the NBA and MLB were seeking:

  1. An “integrity fee”: Later termed a “royalty” — they began asking for a 1% off-the-top cut of all wagers to pay for league “integrity monitoring” services. Both leagues have generally conceded these sums would be “compensation,” not for integrity purposes. Read all about it here. The NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour have lowered their “request” to 0.25% off the top. The NFL and NHL have deemed such a fee unnecessary and have not publicly pursued it. More recently, in May 2019, Sports Handle uncovered that the NBA and MLB had advised various Nevada sportsbook operators that they were requiring a direct agreement with the league in order to access “official data” through third parties, even where sportsbooks had pre-existing agreements for data supply. And further, the agreements those leagues are seeking would pay the leagues the very same off-the-top cut that the leagues are attempting to have implemented by state governments, even in states that declined to require such. To be continued.
  2. Mandated usage of “official league data”: What is sports betting data and “official” versus “unofficial” league data? Read about it here. Sports Handle has written and reported about the subject extensively. The gist of the “war” over data involving the NBA and MLB boils down to this: Sports leagues want legal sportsbooks across the country to pay for information about the games. They claim (dishonestly) that it’s necessary to preserve integrity. It’s about monetization. So far, only Illinois and Tennessee have passed laws mandating that their sportsbooks use/purchase “official league data.” The NFL and NHL have taken a softer approach — suggesting its usage, but without aggressively campaigning for it. The main objection is that commercial relationships regarding sports betting risk management and information suppliers should be left to private negotiation — not government mandate.
  3. Control through other means: The leagues have also sought the right to request that state regulators prohibit certain kinds of wagers that the leagues deem unsafe. They have also requested access to anonymized betting data at state-licensed sportsbooks. States have generally shown reluctance to accommodate these requests.

All in all, sports betting increases viewership, engagement, and the value of advertising on television and digital streaming. Leagues have struck various partnerships with gaming entities and sportsbooks directly (such as MGM becoming the NBA’s first official gaming partner), NHL with FanDuel, and numerous individual teams with sportsbooks (such as William Hill and the Vegas Golden Knights). Even the NFL now permits team-sportsbook partnerships, and the first came in June 2020 when the Broncos teamed up with FanDuel and Betfred. In other words, brand new revenue streams have opened and existing ones will get buttressed.

Each of the major sports leagues — including NASCAR with its own “data deal” with Betgenius — are seeking and cutting deals related to sports betting.

New frontiers

New statistics and new markets for legal wagering. MLB and MGM are in the process of exploring betting on baseball’s “Statcast” data, which offers advanced stats shown on broadcasts (or available online) such as home run distance. No state has yet approved Statcast wagering. Likewise, the NHL is exploring the use of advanced stats for licensure and betting.

New ground for NCAA member institution: Among the many new partnerships to capture our attention, of the most surprising was the marriage of PointsBet and the University of Colorado, a five-year deal that Colorado’s associate athletic director David Plati called “one of the few in existence between a sports betting operator and a major NCAA Division I Athletics Program.” Among other elements of the arrangement, various sports facilities including the school’s football field will display PointsBet field wraps, scoreboard signage, suite signage, and more. This is the first partnership of its kind outside of Nevada.

National operators

Large gaming entities for which sports betting is a very small fraction of overall revenue, such as MGM Resorts International and online-only, DFS-turned-sportsbook operators like DraftKings, are racing for market share. The overall gaming market has seen some consolidation — namely Eldorado Resorts’ acquisition of Caesars Entertainment — and access deals such as the Boyd Gaming deal with FanDuel Sportsbook, putting the latter brand into various states in online and retail form.

Here are a couple of articles discussing the various companies involved:

Major media-sportsbook partnerships now include:

  • ESPN with DraftKings and William Hill/Caesars, affording both bookmakers ‘co-exclusive link integrations’ across ESPN digital platforms.
  • PointsBet has become the official sports betting partner of NBC Sports/NBC Universal, in a deal that gave the media conglomerate a 5% ownership stake
  • FanDuel inked a deal in Oct. 2020 to become WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports the exclusive sportsbook partner for NBA programming on Turner Sports, and across its Bleacher Report website.
  • William Hill and CBS Sports Digital.
  • Yahoo! Sports and BetMGM have an extensive integration.
  • More to come!

As more and more states flip the switch for legal sports betting, we will see healthy competition and turf wars, which ultimately are good for the consumer. As exceptions, some states are implementing market conditions that stifle competition, such as Washington, D.C. Speaking of…

State lotteries

What role do state lotteries have in sports betting? In some jurisdictions, such as Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and D.C., the lottery commission (or similarly termed body) will either have regulatory and/or oversight authority over sports betting.

Each state has to decide which body is best equipped to implement and manage the jurisdiction’s sports betting market. Does the lottery commission have the requisite experience to do it well and maximize revenue for state coffers? Should commercial operators be allowed to enter? Should the state’s casinos be able to obtain the licenses? What about a model where commercial casinos can operate online and in retail, but the lottery also gets to offer sports betting products of some kind? In almost every state where the lottery exists (which is most), the lottery wants to be involved in some capacity or have a cut.

Native American, tribal gaming entities

Tribal gaming exists all across the U.S. in accordance with the federal law of 1987, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and tribal-state compacts, which govern the terms and conditions of gaming in the state. The compacts govern which games are allowed in casinos and mandate revenue sharing between the state and the recognized tribe.

Tribes have exclusivity or the exclusive right to offer certain types of gaming in some states and limited exclusivity in others. Some states have only tribal gaming and no commercial casinos at present, including Minnesota, North Carolina, and Washington state. In states such as Connecticut and Oklahoma, where the tribes generate over $100 million annually for the state through revenue-sharing agreements, they have a lot of sway. There’s a combination of politics, economics, and interpretation at play in every state, trying to balance the various interests.

Overall, while some tribes have already embraced and benefited from the sports betting opportunity, many tribes have approached it with skepticism. Sports betting, unlike slot machines, can be pretty volatile and provides a much lower profit margin. It takes experience. Sportsbooks take up space. Is it worth it to create or re-appropriate room for a sportsbook? Will it be akin to another amenity like a spa and bring in a new kind of patron? These are among the questions that tribes are exploring nationally. Often, change takes time.

A trio of articles for further reading:

States and the federal government

Put simply, states are most interested, in general, in maximizing taxable revenue.  It should be obvious the primary concern for all stakeholders is indeed preserving the integrity of games — both through betting integrity and sporting integrity. But after that, decisions boil down to money, which lead to decisions about the appropriate tax rate and which regulatory body (perhaps a brand new one) is best equipped to oversee legal sports betting.

PASPA, the 1992 federal ban on sports betting, proved unconstitutional on Tenth Amendment (states’ rights) grounds. When might the feds make another run? Former Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer took a stab with the introduction of the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018 during Congress’ lame duck season. But the bill — which would have basically created a clearinghouse and some federal standards for state sports betting markets — didn’t have any legs. It was mostly symbolic and for conversation’s sake. In September 2018, a House Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing titled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.” It was pretty silly and overall inconsequential.

Overall, Congress has lately seemed content to let states legalize and regulate sports betting as they see fit. There is little appetite for any sort of federal regulation at this point in time.

Sports betting educational materials

Come for some practical or actionable sports betting guidance/advice? We’ve got you covered with a variety of articles and explanations.

Regulated vs. offshore and illegal bookie sports betting

As a result of PASPA, state-authorized legal sports betting in the U.S. was frozen in time, leaving Nevada as the only state with full-fledged legal sports betting, drawing an annual betting handle of about $5 billion. Now compare that with the annual betting handle estimated in 2017 to be about $150 billion by illegal books and offshore sportsbooks operating illegally. Both of them filled the void created by the now-defunct federal law.

Regulated markets are not homogeneous across the U.S. and regulated sports betting in general is by no means perfect. Illegal operators have some advantages and will retain some customers in the era of legalization, but legal sports betting through state-licensed operators is generally safe and is only getting better thanks, in part, to technological advancements and fierce competition for market share.

Now some pros and cons of regulated sports betting:

[Also see:  Q&A: Here’s How a Local Bookie Really Operates: Myths and Reality]

Pros:

  • Safety of identity: This primarily applies to online sportsbooks, where players on legal books will have to complete an exhaustive registration process in order to be approved for real-money wagering. While this could initially be perceived as a con, it’s designed to protect patrons from identity theft and other scams. In addition, bettors using legal books will have the state’s regulatory committee on their side. Should they feel slighted by a book, they will have an outlet to voice, and likely resolve, their complaint.
  • Safety of funds: Regulated books have to answer to their respective license-issuing regulatory bodies. Consumer protection standards are much higher. You may find yourself in a dispute, but by and large you can rest assured that your funds are safe and the sportsbook won’t go belly up or offline at random and leave you empty-handed.
  • Ease of deposits and withdrawals: As many users of offshore sportsbooks know, due in large part to the federal law UIGEA, it can be quite difficult (and nerve-wracking) to deposit funds and collect winnings/withdrawals. It’s the opposite in regulated markets where you can deposit through ACH, bank transfers, PayPal, and possibly even credit cards.

Cons:

  1. Impact of taxes and fees: There is debate about the impact of high tax rates on gross revenue. The bottom line is, higher taxes impact the bottom line and something has to give. This may result in inferior pricing, as competitors in illegal markets have the advantage of lower overhead.
  2. No credit lines: This is the biggie. Many local bookies extend credit to customers, so they don’t have to deposit in the first place. You lose, pay up. You win, collect. Most states haven’t allowed credit for sports gambling, and likely won’t, in the same way you can’t use credit cards to purchase lottery tickets.
  3. More restrictive offerings for props or novelty wagering: Regulators must approve the types of sports betting markets that licensees can offer. In the offshore world, anything can go. In most states, so far, you won’t find Oscars or political betting markets or some of the wackier Super Bowl props (such as Gatorade color).

Online sports betting FAQ

In-person versus remote registration: What’s the difference?

Some states including Illinois, Nevada, and Rhode Island allow online/mobile sports betting, but they require patrons to appear in person with an ID in order to establish the account. In other states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it’s much easier. You can use your ID and other verification measures online to establish an account at any state-licensed sportsbook. This saves a trip, gas money, and allows people to easily establish several accounts for the sake of line or price shopping.

How do I deposit at a legal online sportsbook?

It varies from state to state and sportsbook to sportsbook, but with most, you can use ACH (eCheck), an online bank transfer, a debit card or a prepaid card at some kind; in a growing number of states you can use PayPal or deposit funds with cash at the sportsbook’s partner casino. In some states you can fund an account with a credit card or “Pay With Cash” location, or also use Neteller.

How do I withdraw money from a legal online sportsbook?

In most but not all cases, you can withdraw through the same source/means that you used for a deposit.

Do online books offer more bets than retail books?

It depends what book you’re using. But the general answer is probably yes, because it’s much easier to make in-game or live bets using digital technology, as opposed to having to wait on line and see a teller to get down a bet.

Can online sports bets be placed from anywhere?

It depends on the state. In many states, regardless of whether you’ve registered in person or remotely, mobile sports bets can be placed from anywhere: your living room, at Buffalo Wild Wings, the bathroom, etc.

Some states only allow mobile sports bets to be placed on casino premises (or another licensed gaming facility like a tavern). The state is able to enforce this policy through geofencing technology. Basically, the location function on your phone has to be turned on to place a wager, and the app detects where you are located. You must also be located within the state where you are placing the bet. In other words, you can’t book a bet at an NJ online sportsbook if you’re hanging out in New York.

What markets/bet formats are available?

While it varies from sportsbook to sportsbook (and some like PointsBet offer a unique type of “action points” betting), you can make these wagers at nearly every sportsbook across the U.S.:

  • Point spread bets
  • Moneyline wagers
  • Totals (team, quarters, halves, etc.)
  • Props (player, team and scoring props)
  • Futures (such as who will win the Super Bowl or NBA championship)
  • At many sportsbooks you will now find live, in-game wagering options/platforms

How are the odds/prices online?

Your mileage may vary from one shop to another, but by and large they’re either competitive with or either slightly to moderately worse than offerings by unregulated, offshore, and illegal markets that are free from regulatory responsibilities. For example, spread bets at most legal books are -110 on both sides for an NFL game.

It’s more than plausible that the gap in pricing could tighten even further as the industry matures.

What are sports betting kiosks?

They’re self-service stations like grocery store self-checkouts or ATM machines. Look through a menu, pick your wager(s), print the ticket and watch the game. Where kiosks are offered you can redeem your winnings at the machine or at the sportsbook ticket window. Read more about kiosks here.

The history behind U.S. sports betting

Everyone who enjoys legal sports betting should be grateful to the state of New Jersey. For roughly a decade leading up to the “Supreme Court sports betting case,” or Murphy v. NCAA, New Jersey found creative ways to challenge the federal law banning full-fledged sports betting outside Nevada, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, 28 U.S. Code Chapter 178). Congress passed the law in 1992 with backing from the major professional U.S. sports leagues.

The law, which the high court ruled unconstitutional in May 2018, basically said that it was unlawful for a state (its state legislature), Nevada excluded, to authorize or license sportsbooks. (Three other states — Delaware, Montana and Oregon — had some limited forms of sports gambling “grandfathered” under PASPA, allowing them to continue.)

A combination of New Jersey lawmakers, led by Ray Lesniak, plus officials from Monmouth Park Racetrack and former Gov. Chris Christie, wouldn’t stand for it. Among other actions, the New Jersey legislature in 2011 put a public question on New Jersey’s November general-election ballot, asking if the state constitution should be amended to authorize wagering on professional and amateur sports at casinos and racetracks. The referendum passed by a wide 64-36% margin.

Ultimately, the battle ended up in the Supreme Court, where top lawyers Ted Olson (for New Jersey) and Paul Clement (for the leagues), both who served at one time as U.S. Solicitor General, argued about the law’s constitutionality. The main sticking point was the way the law worked — what it did and didn’t do. And because, the court found, the law “commandeered” the states, or directed and controlled state legislatures, as opposed to directly regulating or prohibiting sports betting, the Supreme Court found that it violated states’ rights or Tenth Amendment Principles.

Writing the majority opinion in a 6-3 decision (with some agreement by Justice Breyer but some disagreement in part) released on May 14, 2018, Justice Samuel Alito stated:

The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make.

Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not. PASPA ‘regulate[s] state governments’ regulation’ of their citizens, New York, 505 U. S., at 166. The Constitution gives Congress no such power. The judgment of the Third Circuit is reversed.”

Delaware and New Jersey off, running and booking wagers

Because Delaware already had some sports betting systems in place for its NFL parlay betting — which was “grandfathered,” or allowed to continue, under PASPA — it didn’t waste any time racing to become the first post-PASPA state to allow full-fledged legal sports betting. State lottery director Vernon Kirk said the state didn’t need new regulations, rather it just needed to dust off existing technology and re-train employees for a full menu of sports betting offered in partnership with Scientific Games and William Hill.

Delaware Gov. John Carney placed the first bet at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino on June 5, 2018 — a winner.

Though a bit disappointed that Delaware beat it to the punch, New Jersey still needed to pass its actual legal sports betting law before sports wagering could begin at state-licensed operators.

The New Jersey legislature got it done in early June 2018 with Assembly Bill 4111. Then on June 14, 2018, two sportsbooks opened for business in New Jersey — at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport and at the MGM-operated Borgata Race & Sports Book in Atlantic City.

Gov. Phil Murphy placed the first bet that morning around 10 a.m., exactly one month after the Supreme Court struck the ban.

“New Jersey’s spirit and determination prevailed,” Murphy said, prior to stepping to the ticket window to make the first two wagers. “I’ll be betting $20 on Germany to win the World Cup and $20 on the Devils to win the next Stanley Cup.”

Of course, France won the World Cup in 2018 and the St. Louis Blues won the next Stanley Cup, but never mind that. On the same day, NBA legend “Dr. J” Julius Erving placed the first wager at the Borgata half an hour after Murphy’s bet. Dr. J. bet $5 on the Philadelphia Eagles at 8-1 to repeat as Super Bowl Champions in February 2019 (another Patriots title).

From that point, more retail or brick-and-mortar sportsbooks opened across New Jersey, including the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands, which has proven the most popular spot to bet both in person and online — certainly helped by its proximity to New York State and New York City.

DraftKings Sportsbook did come online first — officially on Aug. 6, 2018, with a platform powered by Kambi.  And it proved quite popular, thanks to a large existing database of users through its daily fantasy sports.

Other states get in the game

New Jersey and Delaware were quick out of the gate and so was West Virginia (mobile sports betting came later … sort of) which had preemptively passed its sports betting law in March 2018. Also Mississippi (mobile sports betting allowed on-premises only) in 2017 passed a law that included language allowing legal sports wagering.

Other states that launched legal sports operations in 2018 included Pennsylvania (November 2018, mobile sports betting came later) and Rhode Island (November 2018, mobile sports betting came later).

Out west in New Mexico where tribal casinos are numerous, the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel, a tribal gaming operation near Albuquerque, opened a sportsbook in October 2018. Although New Mexico did not pass a law explicitly allowing sports wagering, the state’s attorney general determined that casinos could offer it under the existing tribal-state compact. In addition, in November 2018 voters in Arkansas approved a measure to allow casinos as well as legal sports betting at those properties.

That was a lot of action for one year, and since then the interest has only grown. Bills of all different kinds are  introduced, discussed, and passed in jurisdictions across the country every year. Some would create a market like New Jersey’s, some more like Mississippi’s, with all different tax rates and models for the number of sportsbooks allowed in-person and online. Sports betting, and online sports betting is here to stay in the United Staes and is only growing in popularity.

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