States With Legal Sports Betting
Sports betting in the United States is a somewhat complicated situation, and trying to figure out how to find states sports betting is legal is not always a straightforward feat. However, this guide will detail where bettors can find legal domestic betting options, as well as, legally sanctioned licensed offshore sportsbooks that provide a safe and legal means for American sports bettors to wager.
All in all, things are looking up for the industry and more Americans may soon have widespread access to US-based regulated sports betting as more states are submitting legal betting bills to their legislature. We provide information here about sports betting laws by state and how it affects the residents of individual regions. Feel free to browse through this content to gain a better understanding of US sports betting so you can become an informed bettor.
*Update* May 14th, 2018. SCOTUS has determined that PASPA was in actuality a violation of the United States Constitution, and has rendered the law as null and void. This ruling favored New Jersey's position in the case and thereby the supported the Garden State in successfully leading the charge for states' rights. Individual states are no longer prohibited from passing legislation to legalize state-regulated sports betting.
Where Is Sports Betting Considered Legal In The United States?
There are only a handful of states which have passed laws to permit US-based sports betting. At this moment in time, the number of states with legal betting is 15. In addition, US players are permitted to access licensed offshore sports betting sites in most states except in Connecticut and Washington who have made specific rules outlawing domestic access to these sites.
List Of States That Allow Legal Online Sports Betting
Which U.S. States Have Legal Sports Betting?
Currently, more than 15 US states offer state-regulated sports betting options, one less state offering betting if you consider the tribal loophole provided to the Santa Ana Pueblo of New Mexico and their casino. Several states have passed legislation to offer sports gambling in their state but have yet to launch these efforts, and more than 22 additional states have legislation pending. Here is a list of the states that passed legislation allowing domestic sports betting entertainment.
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
- Washington D.C.
Sports Gambling - By The Numbers
Be the legal situation as it may, sports betting still happens. American bettors are flocking to licensed offshore brands or illegal online sportsbooks to place their wagers. Sports gambling is a billion-dollar industry.
To put things in perspective, check out this information provided by the American Gaming Association of sports betting statistics from Super Bowl LI.
- $4.7 billion—Total Super Bowl bets
- $132 million—Legal bets placed in Nevada
- $4.5 billion—Illegal bets placed everywhere else
- 97%--% of all bets placed illegally
- +11%--Increase in total Super Bowl bets from the previous year
The AGA is also estimating that a total of $36.5 billion will be wagered on MLB games during the 2017-2018 season. Imagine if this type of revenue was being regulated. Since the market already exists, why not put regulations on it to make it work towards our mutual benefit?
A recent poll conducted by the Morning Consult asked NFL fans their opinions on sports betting legislation. Nearly three times as many NFL fans believe the federal government should lift the ban on sports betting. The majority also believes individual states should have the power to decide if they want sports betting, not the federal government.
States Where Sports Betting Is Considered Illegal
A few states have taken an extra measure to strengthen their enforcement of anti-gambling laws to keep their residents from engaging in any form of gambling on the Internet. Washington and Connecticut are the only two states that have taken this approach as of mid 2019. They each have specific state laws that outlaw all forms of gambling on the Internet, regardless of the source.
However, a few states have enacted laws specifically to prohibit state regulated sports wagering, including Utah, Vermont, Alaska, and Hawaii. But this can change as Hawaii has a pending sports gambling bill in its legislature.
Understanding States’ Rights
The United States Department of Justice issued a Formal Opinion in 2011 clarifying that the Wire Act only pertained to US-based online sports gambling businesses. This freed up states to issue legislation that would legalize online casinos and poker.
However, the application of this law changed in 2018 with the repeal of PASPA and again in 2019 with another clarification of the law's reach post-PASPA. Now the Act simply prohibits any interstate gambling transmissions for all state-regulated gambling, meaning that state gambling businesses are not permitted to accept wagers across state lines.
Until its repeal in May of 2018, PASPA was a federal ban that superseded states’ rights. There was an argument against the ban stating that it violated states’ constitutional rights. PASPA prohibited states from authorizing or licensing sports betting enterprises themselves. After being sued by the major sports leagues in the US, NJ decided to do something about PASPA.
New Jersey was victorious in their historic Supreme Court case where they are argued that PASPA violates their rights as they tried to authorize sports betting in 2014. SCOTUS ruled that PASPA was indeed unconstitutional and rendered the law null and void and has therefore placed the authority to regulate state-licensed sportsbooks into the hands of the individual states.
On The Other Side—RAWA Seeks To Ban All Forms Of Gambling
As with any major issue, there are two sides. Some conservatives have drafted a bill known as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act. The name alludes to the Federal Wire Act and how some believe it should ban all forms of online gambling. This perception comes from the loose wording of gambling being banned through “wire transmissions”. The law’s original intent was for sports betting, but the perception of its reach became clouded prior to the DOJ stepping in.
This prompted lawmakers to draft RAWA in hopes of rewriting the Federal Wire Act to effectively ban all forms of online gambling. If passed, RAWA would shut down the legal online casino, sports betting, and poker markets currently in operation in the US and restrict any more states from adopting such legislation. Luckily, the bill has had trouble gaining support since its inception in 2014. After a few unsuccessful years, the team behind the bill seems to be lying in wait, plotting their next attempt.
Make Your Voice Heard
You can help with the ongoing US sports betting legal disputes by contacting your state representatives and encouraging them to vote on matters you support. Contact your state representatives and tell them to support sports betting legislation and to block RAWA.
Understanding The Legal Gambling Age Of Each State
One of the most stringent protocols for any gambling sector is age verification. States have gambling age requirements to prevent minors from gaining access to both brick-and-mortar and online gambling platforms. Most states have an 18+ rule, but others have bumped up their age requirement to 21 so be sure to check with your state’s gambling laws before participating in gambling to ensure you are within your legal limits.
What The Future Holds For Legal Online Sports Betting In America
This depends on whether the new DOJ 2019 Opinion on the Wire Act will be challenged in court. This new opinion has flipped the domestic market on its head as it placed many restrictions on operations forcing providers to be 100% intrastate supported and compliant by mid-2019. However, New Hampshire and other states are attempting to challenge this opinion in court.