US sport betting laws: A complete guide to regulations in all states

For years, legal sports wagering in the US has been a pipedream. Bookies have worked in the shadows and punters have used proxy servers to bypass the sports betting laws. This is due to change. On May 14, 2018, SCOTUS ruled the PASPA sports betting ban unconstitutional and opened up legal sports betting to the country. After Nevada having a near monopoly on the industry, states around the USA are due to benefit.


So, what are the changes? Where can you bet now? Where will you be able to place bets in the future? The fine details are complicated, which is why we have broken it down into easy-to-manage chunks. Continue reading to find out more about the state of sports betting laws.

What Were The Laws?

Since 1992, there was a ban on all sports-related betting activity except in the state of Nevada. Due to the influence of the mafia, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act exempted the state. As a result, The City of Sin blossomed and Las Vegas became known as the capital of gambling, sports and casinos, around the world.

Three other states were also granted immunity. They were:

– Oregon

– Montana


These four states had allowed sports wagering to take place within their borders so were given exemptions. However, this only applied to the areas’ sports lotteries in the case of the Oregon, Montana and Delaware. Nevada was allowed to continue its legalized sports pools.

As a result of the previous laws, these states moved first after the ruling. Delaware was among the first to expand into the market. Everyone assumed New Jersey would take up the mantle, yet sports betting laws in Delaware were established on June 5th, 2018.

What About Atlantic City?

Atlantic City is the most infamous place for legal wagering outside of Nevada. However, it was only allowed to take bets through the medium of casinos. In 1974, the voters of New Jersey voted down legislation to approve gambling statewide. What they did do though was to legalize casinos in Atlantic City. Any wagering, such as sports betting, outside of the city was illegal and punishable by law.

Why Is There An Emphasis On Sports Betting?

The answer is simple: fixing. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was introduced to try and stem the tide of match-fixing in American sports. With the history of the mafia, there were famous and convincing examples of games being thrown in exchange for money.

The Black Sox scandal is a prime example. The Chicago White Sox intentionally lost the 1919 World Series is one of the most famous match fixing scandals of all time. And, it wasn’t only the professionals who suffered. Incidents in the amateur ranks, such as Boston College point shaving, led the government to take action.

What’s Changed?

Quite a lot since the inception of the PASPA back in 1992. Due to New Jersey’s appeal to the Supreme Court, said establishment decided to overturn the act in 2017. Legal sports betting won by a vote of 6-3, and the historic ruling opened up sports betting regulation across the country. Thanks to SCOTUS’s decision to rescind the ban, the following states now offer legal sports betting:

Delaware (June 5th, 2018)

New Jersey (June 14th, 2018)

Mississippi (August 1st, 2018)

West Virginia (August 30th, 2018)

Pennsylvania (November 16th, 2018)

Rhode Island (November 26th, 2018)

New Mexico is another state where sports betting regulations apply, but only in the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel. As a tribal property, it’s allowed to take wagers and started booking them on October 16th, 2018. The Pueblo of Santa Ana Gaming Regulatory Commission regulates the casino’s wagers, which means it’s only legal on certain lands. Wagering throughout the rest of the region isn’t permitted.

Where Can You Bet On Sports?

The obvious place to start is Nevada. As long as you bet on approved sports at land-based sportsbooks, it’s perfectly legal. Wagering online is also allowed through mobile apps. But, the applications must be connected with the already approved sportsbooks. Otherwise, it’s no dice.

New Jersey

Legal New Jersey sports betting came into play three days after the legislation was passed. 72 hours from Gov. Phil Murphy signing the act into law, Monmouth Park and Borgata Casino started accepting wagers. They were the first two to do so, yet FanDuel Sportsbook quickly followed suit weeks later and the floodgates opened. Currently, there are nine legal sports books in the state of New Jersey.

Residents in NJ don’t have to deal with a sports book operator if they want to place a wager. Resorts Casino partnered with DraftKings in August of 2018. Why is this relevant? Because DraftKings was the original company to launch a mobile sports betting app in the region. Thus, it was the first time anyone had placed a sports wager online outside of Nevada.

There are now numerous apps, including playMGM, William Hill, FanDuel, and Caesars. Also, there are 888 Sports, Sugarhouse and BetStars taking the total figure up to eight.


Mississippi mirrored New Jersey and went live the same day. Two MGM properties, the Beau Rivage and Gold Strike Tunica, started taking online bets. The law does state sports betting can’t take place outside of these venues. As well as mobile apps, the sports betting regulations in Mississippi permit face-to-face betting. At present, 13 casinos accept in-person wagers.

The Magnolia State is also special for having the first tribal sports book outside of Nevada. On November 16th, 2018, DraftKings opened a book inside the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D’Iberville. This is the Kings’ initial foray into the market outside of New Jersey.

West Virginia

West Virginia was the fifth state to accept sports bets. Sports betting in West Virginia was legalized after licenses were handed out in early August. As a result, the initial bet was placed on August 30th, at the Hollywood Casino. In September, FanDuel launched inside the Greenbrier, followed by William Hill’s sports book in November.

In December, the BetLucky brand launched online sports betting apps inside the Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos.


There are currently three land-based sports book in the region. They are operated at:

– Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course

– Rivers Casino

– SugarHouse Casino

Parx Casino began testing in early 2019, but it is yet to be approved. The good news for betters is that sports betting in Pennsylvania is about to get hotter. Not only are more sports books expected, but sports betting online is due to begin soon too.


Delaware started offering its services on June 5th, 2018. Previous sports betting regulations made it easier for the First State to expand as quickly as possible. The state lottery meant single game wagers on NFL were simple and allowed for legislation to be passed without any hitches.

Rhode Island

The Twin River Casino in Lincoln took its first bet in November and was joined by Twin River Tiverton in December. Mobile sports betting isn’t permitted at present.

Who’s Going To Join The List?

Arkansas voted in favor of legalized sports betting in the November 2018 midterm elections. Voters passed Issue 4, a constitutional amendment that says sports betting is a legal form of wagering. It approves four licenses for casino-style gambling.

As PASPA was deemed unconstitutional, it’s up to the states to decide to pass legislation. Sports betting regulations have been introduced in the following states, yet they are not law:

– California

– Kansas

– Oklahoma

– Iowa

– Missouri

– Indiana

– Illinois

– Kentucky

– Ohio

– Michigan

– South Carolina

– Maryland

– Louisiana

– Connecticut

Out of the above, Michigan is the closest to making a forward step. The legislature passed the Lawful Internet Gaming Act in 2018 thanks to republicans Robert Kosowski and Brandt Iden. Once the Governor signs the LIGA, it will be moved into law and legal sports betting will be allowed through mobile apps.

Why The Change?

Notoriously, sports betting regulations in the United States have been strict. They have existed for more than twenty-five years, so why are things changing? The answer includes a variety of different considerations.

To begin with, attitudes toward gambling aren’t as conservative as in the past. People want to be able to place bets, online and in-person, without being persecuted by the authorities. Las Vegas and Atlantic City have proven wagering isn’t an uncontrollable vice.

The advent of mobile apps has also made the laws tougher to police. Thanks to a VPN and a proxy, anyone with an internet connection can place a bet. And, the virtual private network means it’s almost impossible to apprehend the gamblers.

But, the main reason for the change is to due to money. For decades, illegal bookies and offshore websites have taken a huge cut of a multimillion/billion dollar industry. With state coffers emptying and purse strings tightening, it’s an easy way for states to increase their finances. That’s why current legislation exists and fifteen states are trying to push through their versions.

How Do You Bet On Sports In The US?

The answer is through land-based sportsbooks for mobile apps and websites. To do it legally, you need to make sure you’re in a state where the PASPA no longer applies.