May 14, 2018 stands as a landmark date in the history of legal sports betting in the US. The Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), ending a 36-year era of sports betting prohibition for most of the US.
PASPA passed through Congress in 1992, outlawing sports betting in all but a few states. Nevada, the longtime epicenter of US gambling, was exempt from PASPA, along with Oregon, Montana, and Delaware.
Casino legalization significantly expanded across the US from 1992-2018. However, the ramifications of PASPA meant that flourishing legal gambling markets like New Jersey and Pennsylvania couldn’t offer sports betting at their in-state retail casinos.
The Supreme Court ruled PASPA as unconstitutional in May 2018, ending nearly a decade of legal challenges against the bill.
Since the fall of PASPA, the US has ridden the wave of a sports betting boom that still hasn’t reached its full potential. New Jersey, the nation’s leading sports betting market, took $6 billion in sports wagers in 2020.
As of May 2021, nearly half of all US states offer legal sports betting in some form. From that list, 15 states and Washington DC allow online sports betting, allowing players to wager remotely from anywhere within a state’s borders.
Online wagering fuels the surging sports betting industry, with US-leading markets like New Jersey, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, taking over 90% of bets from mobile sports betting apps.
States With Legal Sports Betting
- New Hampshire*
- New Jersey*
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island*
- Washington, DC*
- West Virginia*
*Online sports betting legal
Online Sports Betting Shattering Expectations In The US
A total of 24 states and Washington DC offer legal sports betting as of the three-year anniversary of PASPA. New Jersey, which championed the effort to repeal PAPSA, became the first state to legalize in the post-PASPA era, launching retail sportsbooks in June 2018.
Online sportsbooks went live in New Jersey the following month, setting the stage for what would quickly become the top sports betting market in the US. The New Jersey sports wagering industry has since expanded to include more than 20 different mobile sports betting apps.
New Jersey’s online sportsbooks generated more than $5.5 billion in bets in 2020. Other top mobile sports betting markets in 2020 included Pennsylvania ($3.28 billion in mobile handle), Illinois ($1.8 billion), and Indiana ($1.77 billion).
All of those states are well on pace to shatter last year’s mobile betting numbers in 2021. Led by brands like FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, BetRivers, and BetMGM, online sports betting has rapidly emerged as one of the most promising business sectors of the US.
States With Sports Betting Legislation Passed
Legal sports betting should launch in Arizona sometime before the end of 2021. The legislation for Arizona sports betting fell into place on April 15, 2021, when Gov. Doug Ducey signed off on the final approval for the state’s sports betting bill.
Arizona appears poised to host a thriving sports betting market. Both retail and online wagering are permitted in the state’s sports betting laws.
The Arizona Department of Gaming can award up to 20 mobile sports betting licenses, a number that should bring virtually all of sports betting’s biggest operators to the Grand Canyon State. Online sports betting operators can only enter the Arizona market through license partnerships with the state’s professional sports franchises, sports venues, and tribal casinos.
A Maryland sports betting bill passed through both the State House and Senate on April 12, 2021. The Old Line State is set to host one of the most competitive sports betting markets in the US.
The language of the sports betting bill allows up to 60 different online sportsbooks and 30 retail sportsbooks to set up shop in Maryland. No other state can match that number of choices when it comes to online sportsbook competition.
The unique approach of Maryland’s sports betting laws allows small businesses and major casinos alike to conduct sports betting business in the state. Gov. Larry Hogan still has to put his signature on the bill to make it official, but Hogan’s approval is considered a formality at this point.
State legislation chambers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo engaged in a months-long battle against each other on the way to sports betting legalization in New York. The State House and Senate offered a very different vision for New York sports betting than the outline proposed by Cuomo.
The Governor won that fight in the end, as New York will move forward with a state-operated sports betting model. That business plan largely cuts casinos out of the equation, along with the competition among different sports betting brands like what’s expected to unfold in Maryland.
The final regulations for New York sports betting remain unclear. Those details will emerge as 2021 continues to unfold.
As of now, it appears that up to four different sports betting brands could land online licenses in New York. The state will essentially function as the casino in New York, awarding licenses to selected sports betting operators and taking a big chunk of the revenue.
South Dakota voters said yes to a referendum on the November 2020 ballot that gives the green light to retail sports betting in Deadwood.
Deadwood operates as the only city in South Dakota that hosts land-based casinos. Those properties will have the opportunity to add retail sports betting to their amenities once the regulations are hammered out.
Only retail sports betting is allowed under the language of the South Dakota sports betting bill.
Gov. Mark Gordon signed off on a Wyoming sports betting bill in April 2021, and state lawmakers have until Sept. 1 to hammer out recommendations on how to push forward with the state’s legal sports betting market.
While Wyoming hosts the smallest population in the US, its nearly 600,000 residents and visitors alike will soon enjoy the perks of legal online sports wagering.
States With Sports Betting Legislation In Progress
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and the state’s pair of tribal casino ownership groups have an agreement in place to introduce legal sports betting in Connecticut. The deal still has to pass through the state’s legislative chambers but is expected to make it through both the House and Senate.
The Connecticut sports betting bill outlines a plan to allow two online sportsbook brands to enter the state. Those mobile sports betting platforms will operate alongside a third mobile sportsbook, run by the Connecticut Lottery.
Up to 15 retail sportsbooks could launch in Connecticut as well.
State lawmakers and the Seminole Tribe of Florida reached an agreement on April 23, 2021. The terms of the collaboration are still quite unclear, however.
The tribe owns the rights to most forms of legal gambling in Florida, and it appears that the state’s legal sports betting industry will flow through the Seminole Tribe. The agreement, known as the 2021 Florida Gaming Compact, will go before the State Senate in a Special Session on May 17.
If the compact makes it through state legislative chambers, Florida bettors could be placing legal online sports bets before the end of the year.
The wheels have turned slow in the effort to legalize both sports betting and daily fantasy sports (DFS) in Louisiana. State voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes approved sports betting on the November 2021 ballot, but sports betting regulations still have yet to be determined for the state.
A pair of sports betting bills were introduced to the State Senate on April 9, 2021. If passed, the bills would go into effect on July 1, 2021.
The list of jurisdictions that offer legal sports betting will increase to more than 30 states by the end of the year, barring legal hiccups in states with pending sports betting legislation.
Several of the remaining US states show interest in sports betting legalization, while a few others stand firm against any kind of gambling legalization.
Texas and Ohio stand as the two biggest potential markets that haven’t yet given the green light for sports betting legalization. Of the two, Ohio seems like a better contender to launch legal sports betting within the next year.
California could someday emerge as the nation’s leading sports betting market. Sports betting legalization would require an agreement among the state’s tribal casino ownership group, which includes more than 60 different tribes.
Other states that could introduce legal sports betting in the future include Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Vermont.
Of the 50 states, only Utah and Hawaii outright ban all forms of gambling. Even Hawaii, however, is considering a bill that would exempt sports betting from than ban.
Sports betting legalization has more momentum in some states than in others. It’s well within reason to envision a US landscape that includes more than 40 legal sports betting states by the end of the 2020s.