Legalization of Sports Betting in US States

Since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), the decision to legalize sports betting is now up to each individual state. While a number US states have moved to legalize sports betting, some states are still in the process of developing sports gambling legislation. Here at BettingUS, we’ve put together a quick rundown of every US state and where it stands when it comes to legal sports betting.

Already legal



Sports betting is legal in Delaware. In fact, Delaware was one of four states that already offered a form of sports betting prior to the PASPA repeal, allowing bettors within the state to partake in a form of parlay wagering. On 5 June 2018, Delaware became the first state outside of Nevada to offer full-blown legalized sports gambling. Residents and visitors can place sports bets at one of the state’s three race tracks which include Delaware Park, Dover Downs and the Harrington Raceway.



Mississippi was the fourth US state to offer legal sports betting after the PASPA repeal. State lawmakers had actually passed legislation in 2017 that would legalize sports betting should the Supreme Court rule PASPA unconstitutional in the future.The first in-state sports wagers were placed on 1 August 2018 and, since then, several of the state’s casinos now allow customers to gamble on sports. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians were also the first tribal community to offer legal sports betting operations outside of Nevada.



Up until the repeal of PASPA, Nevada was the only state in the US to offer full-scale, legal sports betting. This is because Nevada was granted an exemption from PASPA in 1992. Nevada residents and visitors can bet on a variety of professional and collegiate sporting events at almost all of the casinos in the state. Some Nevada casinos even allow those within state lines to bet on sports via mobile sports betting apps.


New Jersey

New Jersey led the battle to strike down PASPA and was one of the first US states to legalize wagers on sports.  On 11 June 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation authorizing sports wagering in the state.  New Jersey bettors can bet on professional and collegiate sports at the state’s land-based sportsbook facilities, as well as participating in online sports betting via online sports betting sites and on mobile devices using licensed sports betting apps.


New Mexico (Tribal only)

New Mexico lawmakers have yet to authorize any sports betting legislation, but one tribal gambling venue in the state does allow residents to bet on sports legally. The tribal group, known as the Tamaya Nation located in the Pueblo of Santa Ana, began offering legal sports betting markets at the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel in October 2018, thanks to a compact with the state. New Mexico lawmakers are still in discussions regarding the legalization of sports gambling and it is possible that legislation will be introduced in the future.



Shortly after the repeal of PASPA, sports betting in Pennsylvania was made legal. Despite the high tax rate and licensing costs, three casinos launched sports betting operations in the state. Punters can currently only wager in land-based casinos: Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and SugarHouse in Philadelphia. Several other establishments in the state plan to launch operations in 2019.


Rhode Island

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. This delay was due to the fact that negotiations with vendors took longer than expected. Two venues in the state offer legal sports betting markets: the Twin Rivers Casino Hotel in Lincoln and the Twin River Tiverton Casino & Hotel.


West Virginia

In March 2018, the Mountain State passed a sports lottery bill that would legalize sports betting operations in the event that PASPA was struck down. Now that PASPA has been repealed, West Virginia residents and visitors can place bets at various sportsbooks across the state, including Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Mountaineer Casino and Casino Club at The Greenbrier. Other casinos in the state are expected launch operations in 2019, along with mobile sports betting apps.



Arkansas legalized sports betting in a public referendum in November. Although Arkansas sports betting is legal in the state, the state regulators still need to craft rules and regulations to ensure the activity is safe and fair. This means punters will have to wait a little longer before they can put money on sports markets. It is likely that there will be more movements towards sports betting in Arkansas in 2019.


On the way to legal sports betting


It is not yet legal to wager on sports in California. However, state lawmakers in the state have shown signs of legalizing the activity. In July 2017, assemblymember Adam Gray proposed a constitutional amendment that would let the state “permit sports wagering only if a change in federal law occurs.” Once PASPA, the ‘federal law’ to which this refers, was struck down, Gray issued a statement calling for the legalization of sports betting in California. California has an upcoming voters referendum which could legalize the activity. Even if residents do vote to legalize sports betting in California, lawmakers will have to craft legislation and regulations that do not conflict with the compacts between Indian gambling tribes and the state, which means it could be some time before punters can bet on sports.



In early 2018, lawmakers in Connecticut attempted to legalize sports betting by introducing a sports gambling bill in an attempt to legalize the activity. The state has held various hearings on the topic of sports betting, with key industry stakeholders, as well as MLB and NBA representatives, chiming in with testimony. The state legislature did not reach a vote on the sports betting bill before the legislative session closed for the year, but governor Dannel Malloy has indicated that he may call a special session with state lawmakers to discuss the legalization of the activity. We expect this state to make some serious moves in 2019.



Illinois currently has a Senate bill to be discussed. In January 2018, state lawmakers introduced the ‘Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act’ which covers betting on sports in Illinois and would permit the state to offer land-based or electronic sports betting at a licensed venue. Throughout 2018 several other bills were introduced, but the state legislature has yet to reach a decision on them.



Indiana was one of the first US states to introduce sports betting legislation, but the legislation was unsuccessful. The bill, introduced in January 2018, would have allocated a 1% ‘integrity fee’ to sports leagues.  On top of this, the bill set a tax rate of 9.25% on all sports betting revenue. Author of the bill, Alan Morrison, consulted the major sports leagues when crafting the bill and has said that, he is open to including integrity elements in Indiana’s sports betting legislation.



In January 2018, Iowa lawmakers proposed a bill that would allow residents to wager on sports at licensed casinos and racetracks in the state. The bill also contained language that suggested online sports betting would be permitted. However, in February, the bill was amended to become more favourable to the major sports leagues that were lobbying in the state. In the end, lawmakers did not vote on the bill before the end of the 2018 legislative session ended.



At the beginning of the year, lawmakers in Kansas proposed a new law that would legalize sports betting. If the bill had been legalized it would have extended the scope of the state lottery and allowing it to offer sports betting. The bill said the lottery could offer betting markets on “one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games.” The bill did not move forward in the last legislative session.



The state’s senator, Julian Carroll introduced a sports betting bill that would allow the state’s racing commission to implement a “sports wagering system.” The bill was introduced in June 2017 and contained provision for residents to bet on professional and collegiate sports. A series of similar bills were introduced throughout 2018, each one more comprehensive than the last. In November 2018, the state’s attorney general proposed using sports betting revenue to fund the state’s pension system which is currently in a state of crisis. This could lead to more support to legalize sports betting in 2019.



Louisiana lawmakers introduced a 2018 bill to legalize “additional games and sports betting” at licensed horse racing venues in the state. The legislation was introduced in March 2018 but did not move forward. In November 2018, there was a statewide voter referendum on the legalization of daily fantasy sports game; 47 of the state’s parishes voted to permit the activity, indicating a change in the attitudes towards sports related gambling. It is likely that Louisiana lawmakers will take further steps towards crafting a more comprehensive bill in 2019.



In February 2018, Maryland state lawmakers introduced House Bill 989 which called for a task force to be established to study sports betting and how it could be implemented and rolled out in the state. The legislation did not move forward, but it did outline the allocation of sports betting licenses and that punters would have to be 21 years of age if they wished to bet on sports in Maryland. It is likely that lawmakers will try to get legislation off the ground in 2019.



Sports betting is not yet legal in The Bay State but that hasn’t stopped state stakeholders preparing for it. In February 2018, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission published a 31-page white paper that outlined everything the state would need to consider when studying the possibility of legalizing the activity. The resource is so in depth it can be applied to other states that are studying the topic. In November 2018, the state lawmakers introduced a sports betting bill which is still being discussed by the legislature.



In 2017, Michigan lawmakers proposed a piece of legislation that would amend the states gambling laws. The bill would permit any casino that holds a license to offer sports gambling markets. This bill also stated that the state’s gambling regulator would be responsible for crafting sports betting regulation. The bill was not voted on in the state’s 2018 legislative session.



Minnesota lawmakers introduced a draft sports betting bill in April 2018. The bill would have authorized bets and created a commission to oversee any gambling activity on sports in the state. Not only would land-based wagers on sport have been allowed under this bill, but also mobile sports betting. In May the state’s legislative session came to an end with no action on the legislation.



Missouri was another state that took steps legalizing sports betting in 2018, though legislation was not passed. In January 2018, representative Bart Korman unveiled a sports betting bill that would permit licensed river-boat casinos and fantasy sports operators to offer sports gambling markets. The bill did not make it past the committee stage despite numerous legislative hearings that were held prior to the repeal of PASPA.



Montana residents may already bet on sports in the form of a fantasy sports pool game for football and auto sports, which are both offered by the Montana Lottery. The state has yet to introduce any further legislation that could expand its sports betting markets. If state lawmakers did decide to legalize sports betting in Montana, they would need to either implement a new law or provide the state lottery with the power to regulate the activity.


New York

New York sports wagering looks like it could be just around the corner after years of work. In 2013, the state passed a law that allowed four of the state’s casinos to offer on-site sports betting. While the bill that sought to legalize full-scale sports betting in New York failed in June 2018, it is likely that this bill will be revived in 2019 with a much more comprehensive and stronger language.



In July 2018, five Ohio state senators introduced a one-page sports betting bill. The bill expressed that state lawmakers intended to develop and implement legislation that would legalize sports betting in Ohio. While there is not yet any legislation in place, the bill essentially acts as a placeholder while Ohio’s lawmakers consider legalizing the activity.



Lawmakers in Oklahoma introduced a bill that aimed to permit the state’s governor to expand on compacts between the state and tribes to include sports betting pools, but this legislation was not acted upon. According to the legislation, “wagering on the outcome of one or more competitive games in which athletes participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games where all bets are placed in a common pool or pot from which all player winnings, prizes and direct costs are paid.”



Oregon was another one of the states that received some form of exemption from PASPA because sports betting was already legal here in 1992. The state lottery used to offer a type of pick ‘em game for football events, though this game was actually put on hold over 10 years ago.  It is possible for the state to introduce legislation to relaunch sports betting operations in the future.


South Carolina

In 2017, state lawmakers introduced House Bill 3102 that sought to amend the state’s constitution to allow residents to wager on professional sports, but only authorized in “specific” areas in the state. Although the bill was not passed before the end of the legislative session, it is possible that state lawmakers will make efforts to legalize sports betting in 2019.



In November 2018, a brand new piece of Tennessee legislation was introduced, “The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act.” The bill sought to permit sports betting, providing voters in the state choose to legalize it in a local election. The bill states that revenue from sports betting activities would go towards funding educational programs throughout the state. If voters do vote in favor of sports betting, changes could be implemented from 1 July 2019.



A sports betting bill titled, “The Virginia Lottery Law.” was introduced in November 2018 and is currently on the table for discussion in the 2019 legislative session. The bill would permit residents to bet on almost all sporting events with the exception of events that involve Virginia’s college teams.


Washington DC

At the end of December 2018, the DC Council passed a sports betting bill that is expected to take effect in 2019. This bill is titled the “Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act” and will permit the DC Lottery to introduce mobile sports betting. Betting on sports will also be authorized in four professional sports venues and at licensed establishments across the state.


States with no legislation

There is still a long way to go when it comes to the legalization of sports betting in US states. In fact, a number of states are yet to introduce legislation or even attempt to explore what it could bring to the table. While some states have not legalized sports betting because existing state laws on gambling are so restrictive, others still consider gambling to be immoral and wrong. As the US sports betting market continues to open up we may begin to see more and more states legalize sports betting. The following states have not shown any indication of a movement towards the legalization of sports gambling activity.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington (state)
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming


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