What States Are Betting Legal?

The legal sports betting landscape is rapidly changing. New legislation and litigation bring hope for a future where sports wagering is commonplace. So how are the states performing? We took a look at the legal sports betting landscape in America.

A Tale Of Two Cities

The first city to implement legalized sports betting was Las Vegas. The desert metropolis has long been known for its association with gambling, and executives at the companies that operate there saw the opportunity to cash in on this trend.

Nearly a decade later, New York City is the second-largest market for legal sports betting in America. Like Las Vegas, the Big Apple is also home to a large amount of sports fans. The only difference is that the sports betting expansion there was spearheaded by state lawmakers, not casino owners.

Currently, 19 states have legalized some form of sports wagering. In New York, sportsbooks can operate as long as they meet certain requirements. The states where sports betting is legal include: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Delaware and Maryland have also partially legalized sports betting. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have no legal sports betting at all.

The Spread

The majority of states that have legalized sports betting allow it to be conducted over the Internet. These days, accessing real-time betting information is as simple as clicking a link or hitting the “check statistics” button on a social media website. This enables gamblers to quickly get a sense of the action even if they are not physically at a sports book.

The availability of this data has significantly reduced the spread, the amount of money a bookmaker has to offer in order to win. Thanks to improved technology, sportsbooks can offer smaller margins and greater convenience for customers. Even professional athletes have gotten in on the action, setting up accounts with online sportsbooks to research team matchups and place bets on games.

This has allowed legal sportsbooks to flourish, with some operating across multiple sports and regions. For example, DK Sports has offices in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles and operates in all three states where sports betting is legal. They also operate in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan. In many cases, online sportsbooks have become the go-to source for information and transaction handling, especially for newer players. In the case of Canada, online sportsbooks like TopBet and Intertops have developed their own distinct identities, largely thanks to their popularity among Canadian sports fans. The two companies claim to be the largest in the industry, with over 500 million in assets and 2.7 million registered customers, respectively.

A Growing Trend

While the majority of states have jumped on the legal betting bandwagon, it is still a tiny slice of the overall sports betting market. About 44 million Americans currently live in states where sports betting is legal, and that number is expected to reach 77 million by next year.

In terms of revenue, legal sports betting accounts for just 0.65 percent of the total market, according to SportsMarketShare.

That may seem like a small slice, but it still represents the largest market share for a brand new industry. Thanks to increased interest in legalized sports betting and several high-profile cases involving college football and basketball, the industry as a whole is expected to reach $13 billion by next year.

New Opportunities

The growth in the legal sports betting market presents numerous new opportunities for entrepreneurs and business leaders interested in the space.

In the coming year, it is expected that the industry will see approximately 2.35 million new registered bettors—a record-breaking 24 percent increase. According to Delayed Reaction, an international betting provider, the U.S. sports betting market alone is expected to hit $12.9 billion by the end of 2022.

This represents a massive market and ripe for the taking. With so much interest in the space, it is no surprise that several startups have emerged to provide fans with a safe and convenient place to wager. Some of the startups that have emerged to fill this market include:

  • Betable
  • BetOnline
  • Bet365
  • Cerberus
  • OptiBets
  • BetConstructor
  • Fantasy Island
  • SportingBet
  • GambleAware


One of the major ways that the sports betting industry has changed is through litigation. The U.S. Supreme Court case Jack W. Campbell v. Wallis and the ensuing case of Nevada v. Horseshoe Entertainment & Arstechnica jointly filed by the Nevada Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice are often cited as the starting point for the increased interest in legalized sports betting. The two cases involved claims by professional football and basketball teams that the States were violating their rights by accepting wagers on their games. Several other cases have since emerged involving a variety of claims and legal theories. For example, the A.C. Gilbert Trust v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts case, filed in September of 2020, involves the Massachusetts Office of Racing and Wagering and the Trust, a group of charitable organizations that own and operate harness and greyhound dog tracks in the state.

The litigation has had a major effect on how the industry has had to operate. Due to the threat of litigation, many states have attempted to move faster and adopt more regulations. Many states have also required bookmakers to register with the government, provide personal information, and establish internal compliance policies. Bookmakers must also adhere to regulations set by individual states, and the threat of legal action remains as a deterrent to illegal or inappropriate behavior.

More Choices

The sports betting industry has become much more agile due to the increased scrutiny and legal pressure. As a result, there are more choices for customers. This is great news for people who want to wager on their favorite teams, but it also creates significant headaches for those who want to keep their winnings.

Bettors may now wager on major sporting events including the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLS, as well as smaller leagues such as the NPSL, PGA, and WNBA. In most cases, online sportsbooks will gladly accept wagers from all 50 states and provide customers with an option to use a credit card to make the payment. Some businesses, however, still choose to only accept customers from certain states.

The increased choice and competition has forced online sportsbooks to innovate and develop new ways to serve their customers. For example, Intertops, one of the world’s largest online sportsbooks, launched a loyalty program in 2018 that rewards customers with discounts and extra spins when they wager on certain events and teams. Moreover, new companies like Sumooto and DraftKings have emerged to provide fans with a wider range of betting options, paying out promptly and in real-time.

In short, the legal sports betting industry is evolving, and it is changing for the better. As more states consider following suit, we can expect to see more growth in this exciting new market.