A State-by-State Guide to the Best Legal Sports Betting Sites in the U.S. in 2019
For years, Americans who wanted to wager on sports in the country had only one choice – travel to Nevada to place a bet at some of the state’s famous sportsbooks in Las Vegas, Reno or other locations.
Nevada was one of only four states – including Oregon, Delaware and Montana – where you could legally place a sports wager in the country once President George H.W. Bush in 1992 signed into law the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Some forms of sports gambling were legal in Delaware, but they were limited at best.
With the advent of the Internet, American bettors had more “under the radar” options available to them with offshore sportsbooks where they could place wagers online. But even that became much more difficult, if not impossible, when the government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which prevented payments from being used for online gambling.
Of course, there have always been other “under the radar” options such as placing a sports wager with a local bookie, but for all intents and purposes, Nevada was the only legal option for sports betting in the country.
That all changed on May 14, 2018, though, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared PASPA unconstitutional by a 6-3 vote, paving the way for states across the country to make their own rules and regulations regarding sports wagering in their states.
New Jersey led the way in the challenge to PASPA, and the Garden State was not surprisingly the first to push ahead with the most extensive sports wagering laws, governing both in-person and online wagering rivaling that of Nevada. Other states have followed suit, and still others are working to get laws passed in their states to regulate the practice.
This is What’s Happening Right Now with Sports Betting Online in the U.S.
Sports betting has been a hot topic around the U.S. for a number of years now, ever since New Jersey began building its case against PASPA. Since SCOTUS ruled the law unconstitutional, states around the country have addressed the topic.
Thanks to the decision by the Supreme Court on May 14, 2018, eight states that were prohibited from offering sports betting from 1992 to 2018 have established sports betting legislation to legalize the practice, and one other (Delaware) expanded its sports betting legislation. Two of those states – New York and Arkansas – have laws passed, but they do not currently offer sports betting at any establishments yet. That is expected to happen sometime in 2019.
The following states now offering some form of legal sports betting:
- Delaware: launched June 5
- New Jersey: Launched June 14
- Mississippi: Launched Aug. 1
- West Virginia: Launched Aug. 30
- Pennsylvania: Launched Nov. 16
- Rhode Island: Launched Nov. 26
Delaware was actually the first state to expand its sports betting legislation following the overturn of PASPA. The state already had sports betting in place, but bettors could only place parlay bets, and not single-game wagers. That changed when Delaware updated its laws to allow for single-game betting on a number of sports starting June 5.
New Jersey was the next state in line, launching its land-based sportsbook offerings on June 14, and following that up with legal online sports wagering on Aug. 1.
Mississippi was the first state to launch tribal sports betting, but that was done along with a state law that regulated sports betting throughout the state. In New Mexico, sports betting is illegal in all parts of the state except for at the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel, a tribal property that began offering sports wagers on Oct. 16.
Here is a breakdown of the states that now offer legalized sports betting post-PASPA:
|State||Launch date||Mobile Launch Date||Potential Mobile Launch Date|
|New Jersey||June 14||Aug. 1||-|
|Rhode Island||Nov. 26||-||TBD|
|West Virginia||Aug. 30||-||2019|
Where Can You Bet on Sports Today?
Nevada was the pioneer in sports betting
Nevada first legalized gambling in 1931, but sports wagering didn’t become very popular until the federal government relaxed the tax on sports betting. Not until 1983, though, when the tax was cut all the way down to 0.25 percent did sports wagering in the state really take off.
Nevada was the first state to offer full-scale sports wagering, starting at first, of course, at their land-based sportsbooks mostly located within casinos throughout the state. They also were the first state to offer legalized online sports betting for people who are physically located in the state at the time they place a wager.
Delaware expands their offerings following PASPA overturn
Delaware was one of the four states that were grandfathered into allowing sports betting when PASPA originally passed in 1992. However, the state only offered parlay wagers on National Football League games up until PASPA was overturned in 2018.
One SCOTUS handed down its decision, Delaware was quick to expand its offering to single-family wagering for all sports. It was in a good position to do so since it already had the laws and infrastructure in place.
New Jersey races to rival Nevada
New Jersey was the state that primarily challenged PASPA in federal court. As such, it had already prepared sports betting legislation way before the law was overturned. In fact, casinos and racetracks across the state began building sportsbooks and infrastructure to handle sports wagering before the decision was even official.
Governor Phil Murphy signed the legislation to allow sports wager in mid-June, and the first wager was placed at Monmouth Park on June 14. Other casinos and properties across the state quickly followed suit. New Jersey moved fast to the next stage of sports wagering, passing legislation to regulate online sports betting, with DraftKings Sportsbook being the first mobile sportsbook to launch on Aug. 1.
The state’s online wagering laws limit wagers to be accepted only to people who are at least 21 years of age and physically located in New Jersey, just like Nevada’s laws.
Currently, there are 13 online sportsbooks operating in the state of New Jersey. They are:
|Online Sportsbook||Land-based Affiliate||Launch Date|
|DraftKings||Resorts AC||Aug. 6|
|BetStars||Resorts AC||Sept. 13|
|SugarHouse Sportsbook||Monmouth Park||Aug. 23|
|Golden Nugget||Golden Nugget AC||Feb. 19|
|888 Sport||Caesars||Sept. 10|
|Resorts||Resorts AC||Jan. 31|
|William Hill||Monmouth/Ocean Resort||Sept. 1|
|playMGM||Borgata AC||Aug. 22|
|Hard Rock||Hard Rock AC||Jan. 26|
|BetAmerica||Golden Nugget AC||Feb. 2|
There are also nine land-based sportsbooks in the state. They are:
|Casino/Racetrack||Sports Betting Partner||Launch Date|
|Resorts||Draft Kings/Kambi/SB Tech||Aug. 15|
|Ocean Resort||William Hill||June 28|
|Monmouth Park||William Hill||June 14|
|Harrah’s||Scientific Games||Aug. 1|
|Golden Nugget||SBTech||Aug. 15|
|Bally’s||Scientific Games||July 30|
|Tropicana||William Hill||Oct. 25|
Two other land-based casinos (Hard Rock and Caesars) have been approved for sportsbooks but haven’t opened them yet.
Nearby Pennsylvania gets into the act
Not to be outdone by its neighbor in New Jersey, Pennsylvania approved legal sports wagering in mid-November. Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course was the first land-based sportsbook to open in the Keystone State, with Rivers Casino and SugarHouse Casino following suit on Dec. 13.
Three more land-based sportsbooks entered the fray in January – Parx Casino and Racing, Harrah’s Philadelphia and the South Philadelphia Turf Club. Valley Forge Casino and Presque Isle Downs have both been approved for sports betting licenses but have not opened their sportsbooks yet.
Pennsylvania has approved online sports betting, but no online sportsbook is currently operating in the state yet. The first four expected to offer the feature are FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, Parx Sportsbooks and SugarHouse Sportsbook.
West Virginia offers sports betting
West Virginia finalized their state’s sports betting legislation in early August, and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races accepted the first bet in the state on Aug. 30. Two more sportsbooks followed on Sept. 13 – the FanDuel Sportsbook at The Casino Club inside The Greenbrier and Penn National.
Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort opened its William Hill Sports Book on Nov. 21, while the state rounded out its sports gambling offerings with the Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos both opening sportsbook in December.
In West Virginia, the BetLucky Sportsbook is currently the state’s only online sports wagering offering, operating in partnership with both the Mardis Gras Casino and Resort as well as the Wheeling Island Hotel. FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook are both expected to begin operating in the state sometime in 2019.
Mississippi opens sport wagering at plethora of sportsbooks
On Aug. 1, Mississippi opened its first two sportsbooks at MGM properties – the Gold Strike Tunica and the Beau Rivage. In September, Mississippi became the first state other than Nevada to have a tribal casino that offered sports betting. This was first offered at the Pearl River Resort, which is operated by The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
November brought DraftKings’ first and only land-based sportsbook, operating in the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D'Iberville. In total, there are 23 locations in Mississippi that offer and accept sports wagering.
The state’s sports betting laws prohibit mobile wagering off the physical sportsbook property, though, so that feature is not likely coming to Mississippi anytime soon.
Rhode Island takes sports bets in November
Five months after Governor Gina Raimondo approved Rhode Island’s budget, the Twin River Casino in Lincoln accepted the state’s first sports wager on Nov. 26. The only other property that was approved to offer sports wagering under the legislation was the Twin River Tiverton, which opened its sportsbook on Dec. 3.
Rhode Island’s sports gambling legislation does not allow for mobile wagering.
New Mexico allows sports wagering at one property
New Mexico is in a unique situation for sports betting. The state became home to the first tribal casino in the country to accept a sports bet when the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel booked its first bet on Oct. 16. The interesting aspect is that New Mexico has not passed any sports betting legislation following the repeal of PASPA, meaning the casino is the only property in the state offering it currently.
The Santa Star was able to do this through a gambling compact with the state of New Mexico, which permits all forms of Class III Gaming, including sports betting.
There is no word just yet on whether New Mexico will eventually expand the state’s sports betting laws.
States on the Way?
Two more states are close to joining the group of states that have legal sports betting legislation on the books. New York first introduced laws that would have allowed full-scale sports betting in June 2018, but that proposal failed in the legislature. Those laws have been re-introduced in 2019, and they are eventually expected to be passed.
In Arkansas, voters approved a constitutional amendment called “Issue 4” on Nov. 26 that will expand gambling laws to four counties. This expanded offering will include sports betting. It’s expected that the journey to approve, regulate and open sites for sportsbooks will take a few months, but they are expected to open sometime in 2019.
Oregon was one of the four states allowed to offer sports betting when PASPA was passed in 1992. The state did originally offer parlay sports betting through its state lottery, but then made it illegal in 2007 in part because the NCAA refused to host championship basketball games in Oregon as a result. In January, Oregon lawmakers introduced a broader sports betting bill in the legislature, which could eventually lead to full-scale betting in the state.
Montana was the fourth state to be grandfathered into allowing sports gambling when PASPA was signed into law. The state’s sports pool law permitted taverns and bars to offer betting square contests, with all money wagered being returned to players and not kept by the facility hosting them. Early this year, lawmakers introduced a new bill that would allow these fantasy-type sports pools to be conducted in Montana by licensed operators.
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Legal Sports Betting
Q: What states currently offer online legal sports betting?
A: So far, New Jersey and Nevada are the only two states to offer online legal sports betting. Pennsylvania and West Virginia should be the next two states to follow, though, with Delaware and Rhode Island possibly not far behind them.
Q: Is there an age requirement to make an online sports bet?
A: Yes. Both New Jersey and Nevada require players to be at least 21 years of age to place an online sports wager. It’s expected that similar limitations will be required in other states that offer future sports wagering.
Q: Do I have to be a resident of New Jersey or Nevada to place an online sports bet?
A: No. You don’t not have to be a resident of either state to place an online sports wager. However, you do have to be physically located in the state at the time you’re trying to make the wager. Both states require the mobile provider or web-based platform to verify a player’s location through geolocation technology first before opening up the site to sports wagers.
Q: How do you place an online legal sports bet in Nevada?
A: Currently, in Nevada, in order to sign up for an online sportsbook account, you have to go in person to a land-based sportsbook that offers mobile gambling. There, you must prove your identity and age and make your first deposit. You will then be able to make all your online sports wagers by downloading a mobile app or navigating on a web browser to the site.
Q: How do you place an online legal sports bet in New Jersey?
A: New Jersey allows players to sign up for and fund their online sportsbook accounts remotely. You do not need to go in person to a land-based sportsbook to sign up for an account or make your deposits. Instead, all the verification can be done from a computer or mobile device, and deposits and withdrawals can be made electronically.