US sports betting legality
Until May 2018, a federal ban meant that sports betting was illegal in the US, bar a few exceptions, such as Nevada. That all changed when the Supreme Court voted to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This means that all states now have the opportunity to legalize and offer sports betting, both online and offline.
Following the repeal of PASPA, several states moved to legalize sports betting almost immediately and since 2018 more than 20 states have legalized the activity. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Indiana and Illinois are just some of the states that now permit online and mobile betting.
It’s important to know that, while PASPA is no more, the Interstate Wire Act still stands. This prevents online sports betting across state lines, meaning you can’t place a bet at a New Jersey sportsbook from California, for example. However, you don’t have to be a resident to bet in states where sports betting is legal- as long as you’re within state lines you’re good to go.
Which states can I bet in?
Let’s take a look at each state that has legalized sports betting so far.
Officials in Arkansas passed legislation allowing for sports betting after voters opted to legalize sports wagering in November 2018. Sports betting went live in the state on 1 July 2019 at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. The activity is overseen by the Arkansas Racing Commission and is restricted to a handful of land-based venues in the state.
Voters in Colorado narrowly approved a measure to legalize online and land-based sports betting in November 2019. The state went on to launch sports betting operations on 1 May 2020 in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and BetRivers were among the first four operators to launch betting operations in the Centennial State. Thanks to the licensing structure in Colorado, once the market reaches maturity there could be more than 30 online sports betting platforms available in the state.
Delaware was the first state to legalize sports betting following the PASPA repeal, and offers land-based sports betting at three casinos. The state allows online bets on horse racing, but online betting on other sports hasn’t been legalized. However, considering that you can already legally gamble on online casino games in Delaware, online sports betting isn’t ruled out for the future.
In July 2019, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Illinois Gambling Expansion Bill into law, which allowed for the launch of six new land-based casinos, a large casino venue in Chicago and the legalization of sports wagering. In March 2020, Illinois launched sports betting with the opening of a BetRivers-branded sportsbook at Rivers Casino Des Plaines. Online and mobile sports wagering went live on 18 June 2020 with the launch of the BetRivers-branded online and mobile sportsbook. Since then several other operators including FanDuel, DraftKings and PointsBet have launched their online betting apps in the state.
Indiana became the second state to legalize sports wagering in 2019 and went on to launch its betting market in September 2019. Sports betting in the state went live in September with the launch of BetRivers-branded sportsbook and then online and mobile betting launched a month later. Bettors in Indiana can place bets with a variety of operators including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers, William Hill and PointsBet.
In May 2019, Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation into law, making Iowa the third state to legalize online and land-based sports wagering in 2019. Iowa launched sports betting in August 2019 and with just 94 days between the signing of the bill and the launch of sports betting Iowa’s timeline to launch sports betting was one of the quickest in the US. Although online betting is legal, until 1 January 2021, bettors must register their online sportsbook accounts in person at one of the state’s land-based facilities.
Michigan legalized sports wagering on 20 December 2019 after governor Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 916 into law, creating the Lawful Sports Betting Act. Under the legislation, online and land-based sports betting is now legal in the Great Lake State. Legal sports betting came to Michigan in March 2020 with the opening of land-based sportsbooks at Penn National Gaming’s Greektown Casino and the MGM Grand Detroit. Due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it is not yet clear when online betting will arrive in Michigan.
Another state that passed legislation in anticipation of the PASPA repeal, Mississippi offers over 20 land-based sportsbooks to choose from. Mobile betting is legal, but bets can only be placed on casino property. The tribal-owned Pearl River Resort plans to launch Mississippi’s first sports betting app later this year.
Montana became the first to legalize sports betting in 2019 after governor Steve Bullock signed a sports betting bill into law on 3 May. The Treasure State launched land-based betting in March 2020, however, at this moment in time sports betting in Montana is restricted to in-person betting via sports wagering terminals installed at venues in the state. The state’s mobile app, Sports Bet Montana, can only be used when physically located on property where a betting terminal has been installed.
Nevada was the only state to offer full-scale sports betting while the PASPA was still in place, due to the fact that it already had legislation regulating betting when the law was introduced. One of the world’s prime gambling locations, Nevada offers sports betting at a huge number of land-based casinos and a range of mobile sports betting apps.
New Hampshire legalized sports betting in July 2019 and went on to launch betting on 30 December 2019. The New Hampshire Lottery selected DraftKings as its sports betting partner and as a result of this, DraftKings is the only sports betting app available in the Granite State. Although legislation allows for multiple operators to serve the state, it appears that DraftKings will serve as New Hampshire’s sole online sports betting operator.
As the third state to sign sports betting into law, the Garden State now offers betting at a number of land-based casinos. It’s also one of the few states to offer legal online sports betting, via a range of websites and mobile apps, meaning New Jersey bettors have plenty of choices when it comes to setting their stakes.
The sports betting situation in New Mexico is fairly unique- it hasn’t been legalized at a state level, but sports betting is available at three casinos thanks to a tribal gaming compact. Bets can’t be placed online, though you can bet on all professional and collegiate sports aside from those that feature New Mexico college teams.
In 2019, New York officials revived laws passed in 2013 that allow for the state’s four upstate casinos to offer in-person sports betting. After months of work, legal and regulated sports betting launched in New York with the opening of a land-based sportsbook at Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady in July 2019. Now, in 2020, all four of New York’s upstate casinos offer sports betting. Mobile sports betting, however, has yet to be legalized and it is not clear if or when it will arrive in the Empire State.
Oregon was one of the four states that received some form of exemption from PASPA because sports betting was already legal here in 1992. In October 2019, Oregon reintroduced sports betting under the 1992 laws with the Oregon Lottery launching its sports betting app ScoreBoard in partnership with SBTech. In August 2019, the tribal-owned Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City launched land-based betting operations.
Shortly after the repeal of PASPA, sports betting in Pennsylvania was made legal. Sports betting first arrived in the Keystone State in 2018 at a handful of land-based venues and online sports betting launched in the state in 2019. Pennsylvania residents can bet on professional and collegiate sports at land-based venues throughout the state and online with some of the best online sports betting operators in the US including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers, and Fox Bet.
Rhode Island legalized sports betting on 22 June 2018. While the Ocean State was quick off the mark with the legalization of sports wagering, venues in the state didn’t launch sportsbook operations until November 2018. Bettors can place bets in person at the Twin Rivers Casino Hotel in Lincoln and the Twin River Tiverton Casino & Hotel or online via the Rhode Island Lottery’s sports betting app.
In May 2019, Tennessee became the first state to legalize an online-only sports betting market. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee allowed the proposed legislation to pass into law without his signature. As there are no land-based casinos in the state, sports betting will only be available on online and mobile platforms. Tennessee launched sports betting on 1 November with the launch of DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and the local Tennessee Action 24/7’s sportsbooks.
The state of Virginia legalized sports betting in April 2020 and the first legal and regulated sportsbooks launch in January 2021. The market went live with the launch of FanDuel’s online sportsbook. In the days that followed, DraftKings, BetMGM, and BetRivers also launched their online sportsbooks in Virginia. William Hill entered the market in February 2021, followed by WynnBet.
West Virginia was ahead of the game and passed sports betting legislation before the PASPA was overturned, and the first wagers were accepted on 30 August 2018. The Mountain State currently offers sports betting at five land-based casinos, as well as several online betting sites and mobile betting apps. The state’s only mobile betting app was suspended in 2018 due to a contractual dispute, but after a six-month period, online sports betting returned to the state with the launch of FanDuel’s and DraftKings’ betting apps. Now, the state is home to some of the biggest names in US sports betting.
Online and land-based sports betting is legal and regulated in the nation’s capital. Bettors in Washington DC can either bet online via Gambet DC, the DC Lottery’s betting app which is powered by Intralot or at one of the state’s land-based sportsbooks. Sports Betting in DC is unique in that the laws allow land-based betting at four professional sports venues and at licensed venues across the city. In July 2020, a William Hill-branded land-based sportsbook opened at the Capital One Arena.
Sportsbook mini reviews
You can read up on everything you need to know about our recommended sportsbooks in our detailed expert reviews, including the sports you can bet on and the accepted banking options. If you’re just looking for a quick taster of what’s on offer at each site, check out these mini reviews.
FanDuel – New Jersey
FanDuel offers New Jersey bettors the chance to try their luck on a whole range of sports, from baseball and football to rugby and MMA. New players can bag a free bet welcome bonus worth up to $500 worth of site credit, while existing punters can claim plenty of great promotions like daily odds boosts and NHL insurance bets.
888 – New Jersey
One of the world’s biggest sportsbooks, 888 offers sports fans the chance to bet on overseas competitions like the English Premier League as well as all the top US sports. Bonus hunters can claim a $10 free bet when they sign up, as well as a matched deposit of up to $500. There’s also plenty of regular offers, such as a free bet when you wager $100 on NBA or NHL games.
DraftKings – New Jersey
Best known for its daily fantasy sports platform, DraftKings sportsbook definitely lives up to expectations. As well as a whole range of betting markets, punters can claim a generous free bet bonus of up to $500 when they sign up. Odds boosts, insurance bets, and more free bets are just a few of the regular promotions on offer at this bookie.
How to choose your sports betting site
As sports betting is pretty new to the US, you may be wondering what you should look out for when comparing online betting sites. Pay attention to each of these factors and you’re sure to find a top US sportsbook that suits you down to the ground.
First up, you want to know that you’re actually going to be able to bet on your favourite sports.
Of course, pretty much all online sports betting sites in the US offer markets on the major sports like football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, but at certain bookies you can also wager on less popular markets like darts or cricket. Another thing to keep an eye out for is whether you’re limited to betting on professional leagues like the NFL or NBA, or if you can take a punt on college sports as well.
You’re not restricted to just placing single bets on the match winner at US sports betting sites. Parlays, futures, propositions, point spread, over/unders are just a few of the betting options available. Another big one to look out for is which sites offer the best in-play live betting services. Live betting lets you place your stakes as the action unfolds, which can make things more exciting and also offer up some great odds- if you’re watching closely enough.
Fancy a free punt? The best sports betting sites offer sign-up deals to attract new players. One of the most common is free bets, where you get a bonus bet in return for placing a qualifying wager. Some sites also offer free bet welcome bonuses that refund your first stake as a bonus to use as on-site credit, if it loses. Another offer is matched deposits, where a betting site will award a bonus fund matched to a percentage of your first deposit. So, if the offer is ‘100% match up to $100’, you’d get $100 bonus funds when you deposit $100.
The fun doesn’t stop after you’ve signed up, though. Most of the top online betting sites offer regular promotions and bonuses to things interesting for existing players. Common offers include odds boosts, which give you better prices on certain markets, as well as insurance bets, which refund a portion of your stake if you bet loses. You’ll also have plenty of chances to claim regular free bets, which can give your balance a handy boost.
Bonus terms and conditions
Claiming a sports betting bonuses can be a great way to settle in at a new site, enjoy a free punt or two and maybe even bag some bonus winnings. However, all bonuses come with terms and conditions, and these can mean that a deal isn’t always as great as you initially thought. One of the main terms to look for is wagering requirements, which means that you have to wager your bonus and sometimes the bonus winnings a number of times before you can cash in. For example, let’s say you bag a $50 free bet and win $50 using it. If the sportsbook states you have to wager your bonus and the winnings 6 times, you’ll have to wager $600 before you turn your bonus into withdrawable cash.
Wagering requirements aren’t the only terms you’ll come across, though. Online betting sites often state that bonuses and winnings must be wagered on markets that meet the minimum odds requirements. Make sure to also check the small print for time limits. You may have a whole month to use your bonus, but other betting sites may limit you to a number of days, and if you don’t use it and complete the wagering before the time’s up, then your bonus will be voided.
The banking options on offer vary at different sports betting sites, so you’ll need to check that your preferred payment method is accepted before you sign up. While some accept Visa payments, PayPal deposits and in-person cash deposits, others might have a more limited offering. Thankfully, our expert sportsbook reviews cover all the banking options available at each site, so you can easily compare the payment methods on offer.
If you made a winning bet, you’ll probably want to cash in on your returns. First up, check out the accepted withdrawal methods, as these will also vary between US sports betting sites. You should also read up on withdrawal limits and processing times – some take a little longer than others, depending on your chosen banking option and the sportsbook you’re betting at.
It’s also important to review the actual withdrawal process. At some online betting sites withdrawing is simple, but others have more stringent processes. For example, some bookies require you to go through a lengthy security verification process before cashing in. This process is designed for verification purposes and to minimise risk, but if you’re looking for quick and easy withdrawals you may be best off at another sportsbook.
Mobile sports betting apps
In Nevada, online sports betting is only permitted via mobile apps- residents may not bet on a sports betting site. However, in states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado and West Virginia both are available. If you want the convenience of betting when you’re on the go, you’ll probably want to check out the mobile betting apps on offer to see which offers the best mobile sports betting experience. You don’t need to download multiple apps to do this, though- simply check out our sports betting sites reviews for all the need-to-know information.
Safety should always be your number one priority when it comes to picking a US sports betting site. You want to be sure that your personal data and financial details are kept safe and secure, after all, and the only way to do this is by only betting at licensed sportsbooks. Licensed online betting sites are regulated by the state in order to ensure they provided fair and secure services, as well as verifying players’ identity to prevent financial crime and underage gambling.
This isn’t the case when you bet with offshore gambling sites, which is why we would always advise bettors against betting at offshore sites. Not only is it explicitly outlawed in some states, but offshore betting doesn’t guarantee the security and fairness that comes with licensed US sportsbooks. This means that if you were ever to encounter any issues, you wouldn’t be able to hold an offshore site liable. You can identify an offshore site by checking whether the domain ends in .EU or .AG.
Of course, all the online sports betting sites we recommend are fully licensed, and sportsbooks are required to display licensing information on their website. For example, you can tell whether a New Jersey sportsbook is licensed by checking for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement seal. Playing at a licensed US betting site will also ensure you have access to responsible gambling settings,such as deposit and loss limits, time outs and self exclusion, which helps prevent problem gambling.
Need to get in touch with your chosen sportsbook? Some online betting sites offer 24/7 hour customer support via phone, email and live chat, which is handy in case you ever have a question or query that needs resolving. Not all sites have such a comprehensive offering, though- some may require you to fill out a contact form, for example. Check out the customer service offering so you know it suits you before you create a betting account.
How to sign up to a sports betting site
- Compare sportsbooks
There’s no need to scour the web in search of the top US sportsbooks- you can find them all right here on our list of best sports betting sites. Browse and compare to find your ideal sportsbook, and don’t forget to check out our expert reviews for all the inside information.
- Sign up
Found your favourite? Great, now you can follow our link to the sign page and create your account You’ll be required to provide personal and contact details such as name, email, address and date of birth, but the exact sign up process varies between sites. In some states, such as Nevada, bettors are required to sign up in person at a casino. Make sure to check whether you need to opt in or enter a promo code when signing up in order to bag the welcome bonus.
Make sure to read up on minimum deposit limits and processing times, then head to the cashier page, select your preferred payment method and enter in your chosen amount. Once you’re happy, hit confirm and you’re good to go.
Once your deposit is processed, your funds will be added to your account and you can start betting. Head to the betting page, see what markets on offer and remember to pay close attention to the odds. Good luck!
Start betting on sports
Now you know all there is to know about US sports betting, it’s time to sign up and have a go for yourself! Look no further than our carefully selected list of the very best sports betting sites, where you can easily compare the top US sportsbooks. Compare, sign up and start betting!
Frequently Asked Questions
How old do I have to be to bet on sports?
The legal age for sports betting depends on the state in which you’re betting. You’ll need to be 21 to bet on sports online in Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia, but other states permit land-based sports betting from 18.
Will more states legalize sports betting?
Some states, such as New York and Connecticut, have explored the possibility of introducing sports betting, so it’s possible we could see it happen in the future. Other states, however, are a long way off. You can rely on Compare.bet to keep you up to date with all the latest sports betting legislation news, so make sure to check back with us for updates
Should I follow sports betting tips?
Tips can be useful, but remember there are no guarantees. We think it’s best to build up your own knowledge of sports before placing any bets. Not only will this help you make sensible wagers, but it also means you’ll be better placed to judge the reliability of sports betting tips.
Can I sign up to sports betting sites if I live in another state?
Yes, but you must be physically located within state lines to sign up and use the site. For example, anyone can sign up and bet on a New Jersey betting app, but only when you’re in New Jersey. Once you leave the state, you will no longer be able to access the betting site or app.
What does cash out mean?
Cash out is a feature offered by some sports betting sites and apps which lets you cash out your bet before the event has come to an end. This means you can either cut your losses or secure a profit, so it’s definitely a handy option to have.