Legal Ways to Place a Sports Bet in the United States and Around the World
Note: this post was originally written in April 2018 and updated in August 2018. We will continue to update the post as sports betting laws evolve.
New to the concept of sports betting? You may be hearing more and more about it as states push for the ability to legalize and regulate sports betting. As a result, you are probably wondering: is sports betting legal? And, where is sports betting legal? We can help answer those questions.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 essentially killed legal sports betting in most of the United States. Four states (Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana) were exempted from the law because of existing state laws that dealt with gambling and/or sports betting.
Prior to May 2018, only Nevada offered full fledged sports betting.
On May 14, 2018 the United States Supreme Court struck down PASPA. The ruling did not automatically make sports betting legal, but it paved the way for individual states to regulate betting activities. We wide expect sports betting operations to crop up nationwide in the coming years.
Following we talk about the status of legal sports betting as of this article’s writing.
Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own
In Person Sports Betting
If you are physically present in Nevada you can go and place a sports bet at one of the sportsbooks, largely concentrated in Las Vegas. Any individual present in Nevada, regardless of their residency, can place an in-person bet.
As of August 2018, in-person sports betting is also legal in Delaware, New Jersey, and Mississippi.
Online Sports Betting
If you are a resident of Nevada, you are allowed to bet online with a Nevada-based sportsbook after you prove your residency. To do so, you must physically go into one of the sportsbooks, ask for the ability to bet online, and prove your Nevada residency with various forms of identification.
If you are not a Nevada resident, you cannot place a legal online sports bet with a sportsbook located in Nevada.
As of August 2018, New Jersey is rolling out online sports betting for New Jersey residents.
Several years ago there were black market websites that took sports bets. The US government has since shut down nearly all of those sites. Legal authorities quickly remove new attempts at black market online gambling.
Black Market Betting
Outside of Vegas, you can only place sports bets (except for horse racing and dog racing) with a black market bookie.
There is no solid data on the volume of illegal sports betting activity in the United States, but some estimate that nearly $400 billion is illegally wagered on sports each year. — Adam Silver, NYT
Placing bets with a local, black market bookie is problemmatic. First, it’s illegal! Plus, it feels shady and it can be hard to find someone trustworthy. And there can be collection issues.
Despite its difficulties, many organizations suspect that black market sports betting is prolific. Industry insiders estimate black market sports betting activity volume is in the hundreds of millions.
Many experts estimate an explosion in sports betting interest and activity if sports betting was legal. This could be a potential cash cow for states!
Horse and Dog Racing
Horse racing and dog racing is legal on a state-by-state basis. And many states offer it!
Moreover, US citizens can legally bet on horse and dog races online from anywhere in the country.
Sports Betting in Europe
American views on sports betting: as something underground, seedy, and potentially unethical are distinctly American. Interestingly, sports betting is commonplace throughout Europe and other parts of the world.
In Europe, you can frequently find a sportsbook in a local shopping district—almost as you would find a convenience store in the US. Sportsbooks simply lack the stigma that they have here in the States. In England you can walk up and down various streets and find major brand-name franchises related to sports betting. William Hill is one such franchise example. They’re just like any other entertainment venue.
State-by-state Legal Sports Betting
As each state considers and passes sports betting legislation, we’ll update this table.
|California||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Connecticut||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Illinois||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Indiana||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Iowa||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Kansas||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Kentucky||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Louisiana||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Maryland||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Michigan||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Missouri||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|New Hampshire||Not legal|
|New Mexico||Not legal|
|New York||Not legal (but close)|
|North Carolina||Not legal|
|North Dakota||Not legal|
|Ohio||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Oklahoma||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|Pennsylvania||Not legal (but close)|
|Rhode Island||Not legal (but close)|
|South Carolina||Not legal (but under discussion)|
|South Dakota||Not legal|
|West Virginia||Not legal (but close)|