Where Is Sports Betting Legal in the US?

Anyone considering placing a wager on sports must first examine the legal status of sports betting in their state. Most states have legislation that governs sports betting, but these laws can vary from strict to lax regulations. This article will examine the legal status of sports betting in the United States.

History Of Sports Betting In America

While horse racing and other sports have been popular in the U.S. for decades, it wasn’t until 1970 that Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, better known as PASPA. PASPA allows states to regulate sports betting, and until very recently, only a few states had taken advantage of this provision. Prior to the 2010 passage of the federal government’s Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, or IGRA, it was very difficult for states to authorize sportsbooks. The new laws allow states to authorize and regulate online sportsbooks, giving a big boost to the growth of this industry in America.

Which States Regulate Sports Betting?

Thanks to PASPA and IGRA, states can now regulate sports betting. As a result, many states have adopted legislation to do just that, resulting in a patchwork of rules governing the industry from state to state. It is important to note that PASPA and IGRA only apply to sports bets placed in states that have passed legislation authorizing such bets. There are currently 29 states that have legalized sports betting, and it is only fair to say that the laws vary from strict to lax regulations. In fact, some states accept all bets while other states ban them altogether.

Strict Regulation

One of the more prominent examples of a state that accepts all bets is New Jersey. With a population of 8.38 million, Jersey is the largest of the 29 states that have legalized sports betting. The government of this state, led by the Republican governor and senator Ray Lesniak, has established a robust regulatory structure around sports betting. Bookies and other sports-related businesses must adhere to strict rules in New Jersey. For example, they must adhere to a 20:1 wagering ratio and can’t accept bets from residents of the state. In addition, bets must be reported within 24 hours, and those that violate this rule can face heavy penalties.

Lax Regulation

Although not as prominent as New Jersey, there are several other states where gambling on sports is legal, but the regulation of the business is not. The law in these states, known as “grandfather” regulations, allows existing institutions and organizations in the state to operate as they have for years. For example, the Las Vegas sportsbook and casino giant MGM Resorts International is licensed in Nevada and has expanded into this new market. The law allows MGM to continue operating its sportsbooks in the state until October 31, 2024. After that, MGM has the option of closing down its sportsbooks or converting them into live casinos. If it decides to keep operating them, it will have to apply for a new license as a casino, potentially limiting the number of sporting events that it can offer bets on.

As another example, Delaware passed legislation in October 2019 that legalized sports betting, making it the 30th state to do so. The law, which took effect on January 1, 2020, does not prohibit stateside bookies from operating but allows them to apply for a temporary permit, which will be reviewed and approved by the Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement. Delaware is currently looking for ways to regulate and tax this new industry, but for now, it can be operated with little to no restrictions. Bookmakers and other sports businesses must adhere to the same basic rules as other types of establishments in the state: They can’t operate inside a casino or a race track, and they must be licensed.

Which States Have No Regulated Sports Betting?

Although PASPA and IGRA allow for states to regulate sports betting, there are a few states where this option is not available. These are states where individuals had to look to the federal government for enforcement of sports betting laws. One of the most prominent examples is Mississippi, where legislation was signed into law in June 2019 that makes sports betting illegal. The new law goes into effect on October 1, 2020, and will not be implemented until the Attorney General certifies that the federal ban on sports betting has been fully lifted by the federal government.

In short, if you’re residing in one of these states and you want to place a wager on sports, it’s probably best to keep it on the Internet, where at least you know you will be able to find an online bookie that accepts your wager. For those who wish to place bets on the road, it’s still not a good idea, as there are very few places that allow this type of wagering. And, in some cases, it may not be legal either.

Where Can I Place A Wager?

Now that we have an idea of which states have regulations in place governing sports betting and which ones allow it completely or partially, it’s time to figure out where we can place a wager. The easiest way to do this is by consulting a map that lists the relevant states and their laws. One such map can be found at statista.com/maps. Just type in your state or province and you will see a list of all the states where sports betting is legal, as well as the legality of sports betting in each state. This is an extremely useful tool for those who are interested in gambling on sports, as it saves them the time and effort of doing some research themselves.


Lastly, it is worth looking into how taxing establishments that offer sports bets are treated under state law. Generally speaking, states that accept wagers on sporting events are taxed based on the amounts wagered overall. Since most states that accept sports betting offer only a small number of games on their sportsbooks’ online portals, the tax haul is usually small. However, it can add up over time, especially if you’re wagering large amounts on a regular basis. The good news is states that accept sports betting typically offer some of the lowest taxes in the country. This is one area where states can really improve their revenue streams.

To summarize, if you’re looking to place a wager on sports, check first with the states where you can do so legally. You may also want to consult a map that shows you which states allow which types of sports betting. If none of these sources can help you out, then it may not be a good idea to place a wager on sports, as it may not be legal in your state.