What States Legalize Sports Betting?

With the world now fully aware of the impact of the pandemic, people are shifting their focus to sports. Gone are the days of playing in a stadium packed with fans. The desire to connect with others through sport is being presented as a way of life and a form of escapism. This has resulted in a boom of interest in sports betting, with more states legalizing gambling on sporting events than any other kind during the pandemic. Here’s a detailed look at which states permit wagering on sports and how it has responded to the pandemic.


Arizona is one of the most prominent states when it comes to sports betting. It was initially a struggle to get sports betting legalized in the state. Those trying to promote legal gambling in Arizona faced an uphill battle. It wasn’t until 2020, after the pandemic, that the state finally allowed sports betting. Although initially restricted to professional teams, the law was later expanded to all NCAA games and high school sports as well. The new legislation took effect on May 1, 2020.

The success of the Arizona sports betting scene was evident the following season. The state saw an 8% increase in sports betting activity, totaling $9.9 billion, from 2020 to 2021. Bettors in Arizona now have more than 100 bookmakers to choose from, and this number is expected to increase as more states legalize sports gambling.


California also saw an increase in sports betting activity in 2021, but not quite to the same extent as Arizona. California legalized sports betting in 2018 and has since allowed gamblers to place wagers on a variety of sports, including football, basketball, baseball, and volleyball. It remains one of the biggest markets for wagering on sports, and a focal point for the industry, with over 10,000 sportsbooks and betting shops located across the state. It would be fair to say that the majority of the country’s sports betting activity happens in California. The Golden State has also legalized online sports betting, which is now available to anyone with an Internet connection. The law also legalized interactive wagering, allowing sportsbooks to accept bets from other platforms, such as mobile phones and tablet computers.

Like Arizona, California also saw an increase in 2020, by 7%, in regards to sports betting activity, totaling $11.6 billion. But while the overall number of sports bets is up, per capita, it’s down slightly, by 1%, compared to 2019. This could be attributed to the fact that many people are now choosing to wager online, as opposed to risking money on sports in person, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Florida also legalized sports betting in 2020, but, unlike the other two states mentioned so far, only on professional sports teams. Specifically, the legislation permitted wagering on the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was, however, later expanded to include all NCAA games and high school sports as well. Florida also allows online wagering and interactive betting, which means sportsbooks can now accept bets from mobile phones and tablet computers. The state’s sports betting legislation was passed in 2014 and has since proved to be one of the most popular in the country. The demand is such that, even prior to the pandemic, 20,000 people bet on sports in Florida each month.

To date, there have been no signs that Florida’s sports betting industry is struggling, unlike some other states that have legalized gambling. The number of registered bettors has increased by 14% in 2021, to 397,000, with more and more people looking to place wagers on sports as the country’s largest states, Las Vegas and New Jersey, continue to embrace online wagering platforms.


Maine legalized sports gambling in November 2019. The law permits wagering on horse racing, as well as athletic competitions between Maine residents. It also allows online betting and interactive betting, meaning sportsbooks can now accept bets from mobile phones and tablet computers. The law took effect on July 1, 2020, but was initially limited to professional sports teams and college sports. The law is widely viewed as one of the more progressive gambling laws in the country, and has received a lot of positivity, with over 150,000 people having registered with sportsbooks and betting shops in the state as of January 2021.

Maine is the only state mentioned so far where betting activity decreased in 2020. Despite the overall decline in wagering, there were still more than 750,000 wagers placed across the country, which is more than enough to keep the industry thriving. Given the state’s focus on pari-mutual wagering, it’s likely that the outlook for the sports betting in Maine is positive. The state’s horse racing industry saw revenues increase by 11% in 2020 over 2019, totaling $25.9 million. Similarly, the number of bettors in Maine increased by 18% in 2020 over 2019, to 685,000.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire expanded its sports betting laws in 2019 to include collegiate sports. The law now permits wagering on all NCAA games and high school sports as well. The Granite State also allows bookmakers to open accounts for individuals and legal entities. This makes it much easier for those who want to get involved in sports betting, as it no longer requires a physical presence in a sportsbook. New Hampshire also has one of the most liberal legal frameworks regarding online betting, allowing players to place wagers from anywhere in the world. This could potentially make a huge difference for the industry. The law took effect on July 1, 2019.

Overall, there’s a lot to be optimistic about with New Hampshire’s sports betting industry. The number of registered bettors is expected to increase by 26% in 2021, while the number of gambling establishments is projected to increase by 12%. This is a very positive outlook for an industry that has been struggling, for the most part, since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand for sports betting in New Hampshire is expected to reach $25 million by the end of 2021.

It’s clear that everyone is shifting their focus to sports, as a way of life and as an escape from the world’s turmoil. This has resulted in an explosion of interest in sports betting, with more states legalizing gambling on sporting events than any other kind during the pandemic. California, Florida, and New Hampshire, in particular, have legalized sports betting and made it available to all residents, regardless of age. More and more people, particularly, as the economy begins to reopen, are looking to engage in leisure activities, including sports betting, and hope that this leads to more opportunities. This demand is being met, in part, by the ready supply of registered and licensed sports betting operators in all three states. The three large markets (California, Florida, and New Hampshire) account for 63.5% of the total $20.8 billion in sports betting revenue during the ongoing 2021 season.