Sports betting in the United States has changed dramatically since May of 2018 when PASPA was repealed. In fact, the changes are taking place so quickly, it's actually a bit challenging to keep up. This is not a bad thing though - it means that the sports wagering industry is expanding to fill the void that US bettors have felt for the last several decades, and state lawmakers are on board for the most part with pioneering the launch of the domestic US sports betting industry.
Following PASPA's nullification, state-regulated sports betting has come onto the scene to provide a second avenue for betting along with the handful of trusted offshore sportsbooks that have legally and reliably provided their betting services to American sports fans for decades. To assist in helping everyone stay in the know regarding which states allow or prohibit these different forms of sportsbook gambling, we've broken the information down in a few different ways.
Where Is Sports Betting Considered Legal In The United States?
Before May 2018, only one state had full-service state-regulated sports betting options, that state being Nevada. At this moment in time, the number of states offering legal domestic sports betting is 15. In addition, US players are permitted to access offshore sports betting sites in most states except in Connecticut and Washington, where lawmakers have established state laws outlawing access to all forms of online gambling. Residents in every other state can legally access offshore sportsbooks without violating any type of state or federal laws.
List Of States That Have Already Legalized State Regulated Sports Betting
What states have legal sports betting locally? Currently, more than 20 US states have legalized state-regulated sports betting options, though you can reduce that number by one if you consider the tribal loophole used by New Mexico Indian nations to not qualify as specific state approval. Several states have passed legislation to offer sports gambling in their state but have yet to launch these efforts, and more than 20 additional states have legislation pending. Here is a list of the states that have already passed legislation allowing domestic sports betting entertainment.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
- Washington D.C.
List Of U.S. States That Don't Criminalize Offshore Betting
Even if you don't live in one of the above states which have passed legislation to legalize sports betting, there are still plenty of options to bet on sports while remaining within the confines of the U.S. law. The most important thing to understand on the legal side of things is that there are only 2 states which specifically make gambling via an offshore site illegal. These include Washington and Connecticut. So you won't be breaking any laws if you reside in any other state and choose to bet with an offshore sportsbook.
States Where Online 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, including online sports betting:
These two states are the only ones that have taken this approach as of early 2020. They each have specific state laws that outlaw all forms of gambling on the Internet, regardless of the source. Their prohibition of online sports wagering does not mean that they won't legalize state-regulated brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, as Connecticut has some betting legislation on the table right now and Washington just passed a sports betting bill of its own.
There are also a few states that have enacted laws specifically to prohibit state-regulated sports wagering, including:
We've seen that this can change as well, as Hawaii already 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. This interpretation is being challenged in court, so the application of the Wire Act could change yet again.
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 sports wagering 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. There has been no noticeable action on the bill nor much official discussion on it at all in 2019. We see no evidence that Sheldon Adelson or any lawmakers are still working on or pushing this legislation any longer, and quite honestly, we are pleased about that.
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. If you visit our state bill tracker page - you will see a map with all the states. If you click on that map you will see a list of all pending bills for any given state. If a state is not 'clickable', you will know there are no sports betting bills pending for that state.
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 a minimum gambling age somewhere between 18 and 21. However, most state-regulated sports betting platforms that we've seen launched require participants to be at least 21 years old, but there are a few exceptions. 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 2019 DOJ opinion on the Wire Act will be challenged in court (though it has received a temporary injunction on its new "interpretation"). This new opinion 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, and so far things are looking good.
Sports Gambling - By The Numbers
Be the legal situation as it may, sports betting still happens. American bettors are flocking to regulated offshore sportsbooks or illegal online and offline bookies 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 LIV (2020).
- 26 million—Number of American adults to bet on SB54
- 5 million—Bets placed online/offshore
- $6.8 billion—Total Super Bowl betting handle
- $154.7 million—Legal bets placed in Nevada
- $6.65 billion—Gray-market bets placed everywhere else
- 97.7%—Percentage of all bets placed through non-US-licensed means
- 25%—Increase in total Super Bowl bets from the previous year
The AGA is also estimating that a total of over $40 billion will be wagered on MLB games during the next 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 poll conducted before the repeal of PASPA by the Morning Consult asked NFL fans their opinions on sports betting legislation. Nearly three times as many NFL fans believed the federal government should lift the ban on sports betting. The majority also believed that individual states should have the power to decide if they want sports betting, not the federal government. Americans want to bet on sports, and they've made it clear.