Legal US Online Sports Betting and Mobile Betting Apps

Legal US sports betting is quickly coming to much of the country, after decades of Nevada having a near monopoly. Multiple states have launched online sports betting including Colorado, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Next on the list is Michigan and possibly New York.

This page provides you with everything you need to know on legal sports betting in the US. Below, you will find a list of the best betting sites, information on how to bet and a look at the state of sports wagering in the US.

Best sports betting sites in 2020

Rank
DFS Provider
Bonus
Features
Click To Claim
1
$520
Total Bonus Offer
$20 Free Play On First Deposit
Plus 20% deposit match up to $500
#1 in Daily Fantasy Sports
To Claim: Click Play Now
2
$5 Free
No Deposit Required
$5 Free
$5 More On Deposit
Watch Sports, Play Fantasy, Win Cash!
To Claim: Click Play Now

Compare the latest odds with our live odds feed

Top US sports betting apps for 2020

It should come as no surprise that a number of the top operators in the sports betting industry have made entry into the online market a top priority. It’s a competitive landscape out there, but that has been a boon for users.

Players in legal sports betting states have a wide selection of apps to choose from. They’re easy to use and quick to download, and function just as well as their browser-based counterparts. Even better, many of them come with very sweet sign-up bonuses for new users.

DraftKings – $25 Free + $1,000 Deposit Bonus

Draft Kings Sportsbook

DraftKings was the first online and mobile operator available in NJ and quickly expanded into new markets. The mobile platform itself is slick and user-friendly. For users who sign up via our exclusive links, DraftKings knocks it out of the park with welcome offers to boot.

Once you have the site loaded on your phone, you can enter your mobile number to receive a direct link to download either app. Please note: DraftKings Sportsbook is not available on mobile web browser due to location services requirements. Mobile users must download the app to play.


FanDuel – Up to $1,000

Fanduel sports betting appFanDuel made its bones in the Daily Fantasy Sports industry by offering a simple but smooth platform and gaming experience. The company has managed to do the same on the sports betting side and is now one of the top operators across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Colorado. If you sign up for an account via our exclusive links, you’ll be eligible for a risk-free bet of up to $1,000.


BetMGM – $500 Risk-Free Bet

Gaming giant MGM Resorts International has entered the NJ sports betting scene via its BetMGM app. The company’s casino and poker offerings have been big hits with users, and the aim is to do the same with sports. There are plenty of ongoing promotions to be found, and new users who sign up with our links can get a big risk-free bet.

Once you have signed up for BetMGM with our exclusive links, take a minute to get used to the lay of the land. While similar to other online sportsbooks, navigation is a little different. Next, visit BetMGM from the browser on your mobile device. You’ll see a link to download the app that correlates to your device, after which you can log in as normal.


William Hill – $500 deposit bonus

William Hill LogoThe UK-based bookmaker has established quite a presence in the Garden State. William Hill operates across multiple states, and also offers a slick web and mobile platform for users to play on. New users who sign up via our exclusive links are eligible for up to $500 as a first deposit bonus.

After signing up for an account with William Hill via our exclusive links, users can download the mobile app for the device of their choice by simply visiting William Hill via their mobile web browser. From there, they’ll be prompted to download the corresponding app, after which they can log right in and play.


BetRivers – 100% up to $250 Deposit Bonus

BetRivers offers one of the most highly-regarded rewards programs in the industry. Those who sign up for an account via our exclusive links are entitled to a generous deposit match. The browser-based version of BetRivers is laid out in crystal clear fashion. You’ll find the same on the mobile side, albeit in condensed format which is optimized for smaller screens. To access the apps, simply scroll to the bottom of the main website after signing up for our exclusive offer. You’ll find download instructions for iOS and Android right there.


PointsBet – $250 bonus

PointsBet sportsbookAustralia-based PointsBet entered the NJ market and quickly gained traction in other legal states. The company is solely focused on sports betting, and it has become known for offering odds which are among the best to be found for line shoppers. New users who click on our links and sign up are in line for a generous deposit bonus to boot.

Since the company is dedicated to sports betting, the expectation is that it delivers a functional platform which allows users to get right down to business. PointsBet does just that. Once you have signed up and taken advantage of our bonus offer, scroll down to the bottom of the main page for iOS and Android download instructions.


Unibet – $30 Free + Up to $600 Risk-Free Bet

UnibetUnibet is a well-known brand in international gaming that is beginning to make inroads in the US as well. One of the first markets it has entered is PA. New who users who sign up with our links get free money to play with and a risk-free bet.

Unlike with other operators, there’s no hunting and pecking to find where to download the Unibet mobile apps. Once you have your account set, you’ll see a direct link for mobile apps at the top of the main website. Click on that and you’ll be all set in no time.

Benefits of mobile sports betting vs. retail sportsbooks

When it comes to where to bet on sports, there’s a lot to be said for the experience at a retail establishment. You’ll generally find massive screens to enjoy the action on, food and beverage options, and a staff that’s ready to take your bets – and hopefully cash out your winnings.

However, it’s also tough to top what mobile sports betting brings to the table. Here are just some of the features and benefits from that side of the coin.

  • Line shopping: On mobile, you can easily browse the odds at a number of different operators to find the most appealing prices.
  • Bet anywhere: No need to budget time to and from the sportsbook while hoping that you’ll make it on time. Log in and bet when you’re ready, that’s it.
  • Betting slip: You can easily add and remove items from the betting slip to see potential returns.
  • Bonuses: In addition to sign-up bonuses, many mobile operators have ongoing rewards programs for users to join.
  • Banking: Add and remove funds as needed right from your device via numerous options, no trip to the ATM required.
  • Support: Help and support are generally just a click or swipe away, including a live chat feature at many operators.

Betting at a retail sportsbook can definitely be a great experience, but mobile wins out as the go-to option for scores of users.

What’s the current state of sports betting in the US?

Sports betting is a hot topic around the US. There are 17 states with legal sports gambling, and approaching two dozen that have some sort of sports wagering bill under consideration.

Here is a look at where things stand:

  • Yellow states have passed legal sports betting bills, have not yet launched
  • Green states have a legal, regulated sports betting industry
  • Blue states are currently considering sports betting legislation

There was a federal ban on sports betting in the United States from 1992 to 2018 under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The 1992 law granted immunity to four states that had previously allowed sports betting inside their borders. Those states are Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana.

The state of New Jersey challenged the legality of PASPA. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in late 2017. On May 14, SCOTUS issued a decision reversing the ban, striking down PASPA in full by a vote of 6-3. Thanks to the decision, the following states (in addition to Nevada) now offer legal sports betting:

States that have passed sports betting legislation, but haven’t launched it yet:

Delaware was actually the first into the expanded market. The state used the existing sports betting law on its books, established single-game wagering regulations, and began taking bets on June 5, 2018.

New Mexico was an interesting case. Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel signed a deal with USBookmaking in early October to launch a sportsbook and started booking legal wagers on Oct. 16.  Santa Ana is a tribal property. Mississippi was the first state to launch tribal sports betting, but it was done in tandem with a state law. In Santa Ana’s case, sports betting is still illegal elsewhere in the state, but the tribe can accept bets on its land.

The Pueblo of Santa Ana Gaming Regulatory Commission regulates the casino’s wagers.

Oregon went a similar route. While the Oregon Lottery launched its SBTech-powered Scoreboard betting app Oct. 16, the tribal-owned Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City opened the state’s first retail space. Chinook debuted its sports betting lounge Aug. 27, and several other tribal casinos have expressed interest in joining the party.



Where can you bet on sports?

Go through the states where you can legally bet, then check out our guide on how to begin sports betting. This will give you an easy, informational rundown of the basics.

Nevada allows wagering on a variety of approved sports at land-based sportsbooks. Plus, sports betting is authorized on the internet through casino game apps connected to those sportsbooks.

Delaware

Delaware started taking single-game wagers in addition to its pre-existing parlay wagering on National Football League (NFL) games through the state lottery. With laws that supported the offering of single-game wagering, the state quickly assembled regulations. It started offering sports betting in 2019.

New Jersey

After New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law, Monmouth Park and Borgata Casino were the first two New Jersey properties to start taking wagers. The FanDuel Sportsbook at The Meadowlands launched a couple of weeks later. There are currently nine sportsbooks operational in the state with eight online and mobile apps.

In 2018, DraftKings Sportsbook launched its mobile betting app in New Jersey. It was the first time someone placed a legal US sports bet online outside of Nevada. DraftKings partnered with Resorts Casino for sports betting. The app launched without a brick and mortar sportsbook at Resorts.

Those wishing to bet on the DraftKings Sportsbook app need to be at least 21 years old and physically located within New Jersey. Resorts opened its on-property sportsbook in 2018 without any DraftKings branding.

In 2018, Borgata owner MGM Resorts launched a playMGM mobile app. Unlike DraftKings, the offering is mobile-only and cannot be accessed via a computer. SugarHouse Online Sportsbook & Casino was the first gaming operator in the US to launch an integrated online sportsbook and casino.

Apps have continued to stream into the market. The most recent to do so is Golden Nugget, which launched in 2019. The Nugget’s entry into the market brings the total number of NJ online sportsbooks up to thirteen.

NJ sports betting apps

Here are the sports betting apps in New Jersey where you can wager online in the state:

Online SportsbookBrowser-basedAndroidiOSNotes
DraftKingsYesYesYesCombined DFS/Sportsbook
Fox BetNoYesPart of PokerStars NJCombined casino/sportsbook
FanDuelYesYesYes
SugarHouseYesYesYesCombined casino/sportsbook
888 SportYesYesYes
Caesars

YesYesYesCombined casino/sportsbook
Golden NuggetYesYesYesCombined casino/sportsbook
PlayMGM SportsNoYesYes
William HillYesYesYes
PointsBet

YesYesYes
Hard RockYesYesYes
ResortsYesYesYes
BetAmericaYesYesYes

Sports betting interest continues to grow in the US. Fans now have the option to choose from many sports betting apps and online sports betting operators, often with enticing promotions like free bets. Here are five of the top sports betting apps that we recommend:

  • DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Betstars NJ
  • Fanduel Sportsbook
  • William Hill
  • PointsBet

NJ sportsbooks

And here are the land-based facilities that are allowed to offer sports betting:

Casino/racetrackSportsbook NameOpen?
BorgataBorgata Race & Sports BarYes
ResortsDraftKings Sportsbook at ResortsYes
Ocean ResortWilliam Hill Sportsbook @ Ocean ResortYes
Monmouth ParkMonmouth Park Sports Book by William HillYes
MeadowlandsFanDuel SportsbookYes
Harrah'sThe BookYes
Hard RockHard Rock SportsbookYes
Golden NuggetThe SportsbookYes
Caesarsn/aNo
Bally'sWild Wild West SportsbookYes
TropicanaWilliam Hill Sports Book at Tropicana Atlantic CityYes
Freehold RacewayParx Sportsbook at FreeholdYes

Pennsylvania

The first land-based sportsbook opened in 2018, at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Rivers Casino, and SugarHouse Casino.

By the start of 2019, Parx Casino, South Philadelphia Turf Club and Harrah’s Philadelphia had all kicked off sports betting in staggered launches.

After the initial kick-off, more sportsbooks rolled out their betting operations.

CasinoSportsbook partnerOnline Sportsbook
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race CourseWilliam Hill
Coming soon
SugarHouse CasinoKambiOpen
Rivers CasinoKambiOpen
Parx Casino and RacingKambiOpen
Harrah’s PhiladelphiaScientific GamesComing soon
Valley ForgeFanDuelOpen
South Philadelphia Turf ClubParx CasinoN/A
Oaks Race & SportsbookParx CasinoN/A
Presque Isle DownsBetAmericaComing soon
Mohegan Sun PoconoUnibetComing soon
The MeadowsDraftKingsComing soon
Mount Airy Casino ResortFox BetOpen
Live! Hotel & CasinoN/A2021

Online sports betting began in 2019 with the soft launch of the SugarHouse Sportsbook PA app. Both the Parx and BetRivers apps followed, along with FanDuel Sportsbook. At this point, any one of the following operators could be the next to launch their site:

West Virginia

West Virginia was the fifth state to launch post-SCOTUS ruling, with Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races opening a retail sportsbook in 2018.

FanDuel Sportsbook (via The Greenbrier partnership) and Penn National then entered the fold, followed by Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort and its William Hill Sports Book.

Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos opened in 2018 and launched the first online sports betting app using the BetLucky Sportsbook brand. However, parent company Delaware North encountered a dispute with technology partner Miomni, and as a result, has indefinitely suspended operations at both casinos and the BetLucky app.

Online sports betting returned to West Virginia in 2019, as FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook hit the market. In 2020, BetMGM (partnered with The Greenbrier) launched to give West Virginia three betting apps. The list has only grown since then.

PropertyRetail SportsbookOnline Sportsbook
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town RacesWilliam HillDraftKings Sportsbook
The GreenbrierFanDuel SportsbookFanDuel Sportsbook
The Greenbrier---BetMGM
Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort William HillWilliam Hill
Mardi Gras Casinobetlybetly
Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrackbetlybetly

Mississippi

On the same day that NJ went mobile, Mississippi sports betting went live at two MGM properties, the Beau Rivage and Gold Strike Tunica. Currently, more than two dozen commercial casinos in the Magnolia State are taking in-person wagers. The law there stipulates no mobile wagering off property though.

Mississippi is also the first state outside of Nevada to have a tribal casino with sports betting offerings. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians launched wagering at Pearl River Resort in 2018.

In 2018, DraftKings struck a deal to open a sportsbook inside the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D’Iberville. The deal not only counts as DraftKings’ first physical sportsbook, it introduces DraftKings’ first sportsbook operation outside New Jersey. The new venue replaced PRL bar with multiple screens for betting on numerous sports–plus live in-game betting.

CasinoSports betting offered?City
1st Jackpot Casino TunicaYesTunica
Ameristar Casino HotelYesVicksburg
Beau Rivage CasinoYesBiloxi
Boomtown Casino - BiloxiYesBiloxi
Fitzgerald's Casino - TunicaYesTunica
Gold Strike Casino ResortYesTunica
Golden Nugget BiloxiYesBiloxi
Hard Rock Casino - BiloxiYesBiloxi
Harlow's Casino ResortYesGreenville
Harrah's Gulf CoastYesBiloxi
Hollywood Casino Bay St. LouisYesBay St. Louis
Hollywood Casino - TunicaYesTunica
Horseshoe Resort and Casino - TunicaYesTunica
IP Casino Resort SpaYesBiloxi
Island View CasinoYesBiloxi
Isle of Capri - LulaNoLula
Lady Luck CasinoNoVicksburg
Magnolia Bluffs CasinoYesNatchez
Palace CasinoYesBiloxi
Resorts Tunica Hotel & CasinoNoTunica
Riverwalk CasinoYesVicksburg
Sam's Town TunicaYesTunica
Scarlet Pearl Casino ResortYesBiloxi
Silver Slipper CasinoYesBay St. Louis
Treasure Bay CasinoYesBiloxi
Trop Casino GreenvilleNoGreenville
Tunica Roadhouse CasinoNoTunica
WaterView Casino and HotelYesVicksburg

Rhode Island

Twin River Casino in Lincoln took its first sports bets in 2018. Customers are required to register online accounts in-person before they can begin placing bets.

Its sister property, Twin River Tiverton, near the Massachusetts border, also launched retail sports betting in 2018.

New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment offers two brick-and-mortar locations to bet on sports. The Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel debuted its sportsbook in 2018, and Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino followed suit in 2019.

The state’s compact with the tribe allows for sports betting without a law change, so Santa Ana Star was able to streamline the process and launch as the sixth state with a sportsbook, beating both Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Arkansas

Sports betting in Arkansas debuted in July 2019 at the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort facility. Operations commenced after a ceremonial bet from Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith.

By January 2020, Arkansas had a second sportsbook: Southland Casino Racing, located in West Memphis, opened doors ahead of Super Bowl LIV.

New York

New York sports betting is available at four commercial casinos, Resorts World Catskills, Rivers Casino, del Lago Resort & Casino, and Tioga Downs. Additionally, customers can places bets at many tribal properties.

A deal between Kambi and the Seneca Nation of Indians will see the European-based company operate sportsbooks at the tribes three casinos in Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Salamanca.

New York sports betting made its official debut just ahead of the 2019 NFL season. As for mobile wagering, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has elicited plenty of back-and-forth chatter, but there have been only failed attempts without any legitimate legal steps forward. Fans will just have to enjoy retail sportsbooks for now.

Iowa

Eight Iowa casinos began retail sports betting operations in 2019. Additionally, four casinos powered by William Hill (Isle Bettendorf, Isle Waterloo, Lakeside, and Prairie Meadows) offer retail and mobile wagering. The other four casinos powered by PointsBet, Kambi and Bet.Works are expected to launch mobile operations in 2020.

Iowa has also welcomed rising industry powers DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks. DraftKings opened retail operations at Wild Rose locations in Jefferson, Emmetsburg and Clinton; FanDuel did the same at Diamond Jo properties in Northwood and DubuqueBetfred, based in the UK, made its first foray into the US by opening a retail sportsbook at Grand Falls Casino.

Oregon

Oregonians can now place legal sports wagers. The Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City began taking bets in 2019. Owned by the Siletz Tribe, the casino offers retail sports betting allowing customers to bet on professional and college sports.

The state lottery selected SBTech to be its technology partner for sports betting, which went live in 2019 as Oregon Lottery introduced the Scoreboard betting app for Android, iOS and desktop. Wagering on college sports, however, is prohibited.

Indiana

Land-based Indiana sports betting officially began in 2019. As expected, online sports betting followed, as DraftKings Sportsbook, BetRivers Sportsbook, and FanDuel Sportsbook all launched in 2019. In 2020, BetAmerica, PointsBet, Unibet and theScore launched.

New Hampshire

In 2019, the state’s executive council approved DraftKings as New Hampshire’s contracted sports betting provider. DraftKings has the option to power retail sportsbooks in New Hampshire, though those will come at a later date.

Illinois

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines became the first property to begin accepting wagers with the opening of its BetRivers Sportsbook. Since then, five other retail sportsbooks have opened in Illinois. BetRivers, DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbook stand as the lone online sportsbooks live in the Land of Lincoln. For now, customers can register for their mobile sports betting accounts via remote registration.

OperatorCasino PartnerRetail OpenOnline Launch
DraftKings SportsbookCasino QueenYes (August 2020)Yes (August 2020)
BetRiversRivers CasinoYes (March 2020)Yes (June 2020)
FanDuel SportsbookPar-A-Dice CasinoNoYes (August 2020)
Penn NationalHollywood JolietYes (August 2020)No
Penn NationalHollywood AuroraYes (August 2020)No
Penn NationalArgosy Casino AltonYes (March 2020)No
William HillGrand Victoria CasinoYes (August 2020)No

Michigan

After years of back-and-forth to get sports betting legalized, the state finally kicked it off in 2020 with the opening of Greektown’s Sportsbook at Greektown and MGM’s Moneyline Sports Lounge. Even more sportsbooks and options have launched since. Check out this full guide on everything to know to get started in the Wolverine State.

Montana

Legal Montana sports betting arrived in Big Sky Country in March 2020, powered by Intralot. The Montana Lottery began delivering self-service kiosks early in the month, while communication beacons were already installed where necessary. The lottery obviously allows physical wagering via the terminals, and bettors can also bet online via the lottery’s app or website. Mobile wagering is offered in establishments that boast communication beacons, but “null-beacons” are also set up to prevent people from betting outside.

Colorado

The American landscape of legalized sports betting expanded westward when Colorado officially opened regulated wagering in May 2020. Four operators launched online sportsbooks in the Centennial State on the first day, including FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, BetRivers and BetMGM. As Colorado debuted during the coronavirus pandemic, when casinos were shuttered, the state’s industry began with mobile sportsbooks. Retail wagering will certainly enter the fold once it becomes safe to open casinos again.

Below is a list of online sportsbooks that are currently live in Colorado:

Colorado SportsbookCasino PartnerOnline LaunchBonus Offer
DraftKings SportsbookGolden Gulch CasinoMay 2020Up to $1,025
FanDuel SportsbookGolden Gates CasinoMay 2020$1,000 Risk-Free
BetRivers SportsbookJP McGill’s CasinoMay 2020100% up to $250
BetMGM SportsbookMidnight Rose CasinoMay 2020100% up to $500
Fox Bet SportsbookLady Luck Casino Black HawkMay 2020$500 Risk-Free
SportsBetting.com SportsbookJohnny Nolon’s CasinoSept. 2020$1,000 Risk-Free
William Hill SportsbookIsle Casino Hotel,
Lady Luck Casino
September 2020
Betfred SportsbookSaratoga CasinoSeptember 2020
Sky Ute SportsbookSky Ute Casino and ResortMay 2020
SBK SportsbookBronco Billy’s Casino and HotelJune 2020
BetMonarch SportsbookMonarch Casino ResortMay 2020
Elite SportsbookRed Dolly CasinoAugust 2020
Circa SportsCentury CasinosJuly 2020
BetWildwood SportsbookWildwood CasinoJuly 2020
theScore SportsbookGilpin CasinoSeptember 2020
PointsBet SportsbookDouble Eagle CasinoNovember 2020
Barstool SportsbookAmeristar CasinoTBD
ISI SportsbookJohnny Nolon's CasinoTBD
SuperbookThe Lodge CasinoTBD
Bet365 SportsbookCentury CasinosTBD
Betsson SportsbookDostal Alley SaloonTBD
Wynn Sports / BetAmerica / SmarketsBronco Billy’s Christmas CasinoTBD

Tennessee

Tennessee became the first to go live as a mobile-only betting state, as there are no casinos. Three operators are up and running: DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel SportsbookBetMGM Sportsbook. Tennesee Action 24/7 should launch once Amelco completes its background check.

Customers can sign-up from anywhere in the state and wager on any and all sports from the start. While not a large state in terms of betting activity, TN sports betting looks to capitalize on the South’s love of college football and March Madness betting.

States on the way?

Virginia sports betting became legal in April 2020 after legislators agreed on suggested amendments to proposed language. Laws regulating the state’s industry goes into effect July 1, and the Virginia Lottery approved final regulations in September 2020. Now officials expect the first legal sportsbooks to go live in January 2021.

Several other states, including Alaska, Kansas, and Wyoming, have also seen legislation pass through. Of note, Alaska would have the state lottery oversee its industry; Wyoming would prohibit betting on college events or schools based in the state. All three states would authorize online wagering.

Washington became the first state in 2020 to legalize sports betting, as Gov. Jay Inslee signed off on a bill to do such in March. The bill allows for retail wagering only on tribal lands. Online betting is not permitted outside tribal casinos. However, the state faces potential legal action from those who either disapprove of regulated betting or want in on the action.

In November, voters in three states approved state-regulated sports betting. Question 2 on the state ballot in Maryland asked residents to vote yes or no on legalizing sports betting in the state. On Nov. 3, it was an overwhelming “yes” so it’s likely sports betting will begin sometime in 2021.

Similarly, voters in South Dakota voted to allow legalized wagering within the city of Deadwood.

In Louisiana, meanwhile, residents in 55 of 64 parishes approved regulated sports betting within their areas. As the measure only asked if the public wanted betting, legislators will now reconvene to hash out additional legislation to help craft regulatory framework for an industry that could launch in fall 2021.

Sports To Bet On

The core four professional sports leagues are some of the most popular, followed by others such as golf, soccer, college sports and special events. For more information on betting by sport, check out some of PlayUSA’s top guides:

Key wagering laws

PASPA

In 1992, PASPA essentially made Nevada the only state allowed to offer legal sports betting. The law marked an effort by the federal government to end gambling-related corruption in sports.

American gangsters found some notable success coercing pro athletes to shave points or fix games so they could profit gambling on them. One infamous example is the 1919 Chicago White Sox World Series scandal.

PASPA ostensibly came about to prevent the proliferation of such scandals, as well as maintain the integrity of sports in the country.

Now, with PASPA deemed unconstitutional, states can decide whether they want to offer sports wagering. Additionally, Congress now has the option to draft and pass a law legalizing sports betting at the federal level.

The Interstate Wire Act of 1961

The Interstate Wire Act of 1961 is often referred to as the Federal Wire Act. This law essentially prohibits the operation of a number of betting businesses across the country, particularly those using the transmission of a wire communication to place bets. The law passed as a part of then US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedys effort to suppress organized crime activity across the country.

Kennedy believed gambling operations run by organized crime groups were so completely intertwined with communications systems that going after their use would cripple the operations.

In December 2011, the United States Department of Justice released a legal opinion on the act. The decision concluded anything outside of sporting events falls outside the act’s reach. The opinion was meant to clarify whether states could sell lottery tickets on the internet.

However, Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey all enacted online gambling legislation based on it. The decision did clarify the act was a part of the federal ban on sports betting.

Efforts by states to get sports betting

A number of states have either considered or passed laws seeking to legalize sports betting. The following states introduced sports betting legislation in the last few years but have not yet passed it into law:

The New Jersey challenge

The idea of legal sports betting in New Jersey passed through a public referendum in 2012. A bill permitting the state’s racetracks and Atlantic City casinos to offer sports betting similar to that in Nevada became law in 2013.

However, a number of pro and amateur sports leagues fought the law in court. They successfully struck it down. The state appealed to the Third Circuit Court, and the decision was affirmed.

The state passed another sports betting law in 2014 and lost again in district court. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision as well. The state appealed that decision and lost that appeal too. The case moved on to the US Supreme Court. The Solicitor General recommended the court pass on hearing the case, but the court took it up and heard oral arguments in December 2017.

Again, on May 14, 2018, SCOTUS ruled PASPA’s sports betting ban unconstitutional.

Are attitudes changing about sports betting?

States are now lining up to introduce sports betting legislation. While only four passed such legislation, another 15 are considering a bill. With nearly half the states passing or considering new laws and a favorable SCOTUS decision, it is fair to say the tides are shifting. There are now many sports betting analytics tools and even ways of buying picks.

Cash-strapped states looking for innovative new revenue sources are starting to see the sports betting market as a realistic way to generate money. This is similar to the change in attitude towards land-based casino operations and online gambling.

Sports betting is a multi-billion dollar market in the United States, but unfortunately, many seemingly legitimate places to bet are actually through illegal bookies and offshore gambling websites. But the more legal states and operators there are in the mix, the more those will decline.

Position of sports leagues

League/TeamCasino/sports betting partner
NBAMGM Resorts
NHLMGM Resorts
New York Jets (NFL)MGM Resorts, 888 Casino
Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)Caesars
Vegas Golden Knights (NHL)William Hill
New Jersey Devils (NHL)William Hill, Caesars
Dallas Cowboys (NFL)WinStar Casino
Baltimore Ravens (NFL)Horseshoe Baltimore (Caesars)

When New Jersey passed sports betting legislation, major pro sports leagues, including the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB were the ones who took them to court to oppose it. Many of the same sports leagues stood in opposition when Delaware looked to expand its lottery parlay wagering beyond betting on football.

However, the leagues’ stances on sports betting may be softening. In fact, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in 2014 calling for the repeal of PASPA. He claimed the popularity of gambling across the United States as a reason why.

Silver called for Congress to adopt a federal framework allowing states to authorize betting on professional sports. Of course, he also said it should be subject to regulatory requirements and safeguards. As new bills rolled out, it became clear Silver and other leagues also expect a cut of the sports betting revenue—a move drawing extensive criticism from the gambling industry.

Other leagues are echoing the NBA’s sentiments in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. They are lobbying for a federal sports betting bill with a cut for the leagues to help finance measures to preserve the integrity of their games.

On July 31 though, the NBA did something unprecedented. It partnered with MGM Resorts. MGM will be the official sports betting partner of the league. In exchange for $25 million, MGM will get to use league data and logos in its sports betting promotion for the next three years. The deal establishes a precedent that casino companies should pay sports leagues for certain data and content rights.

The NHL was the next to jump on the wagon with MGM. With the relationship between the two organizations bolstered by the Vegas Golden Knights‘ historic run to the Stanley Cup finals, the two announced a deal on October 29 to allow MGM access to the NHL’s intellectual property.

That access extends to use of the logos and associated property of the 31 teams in the NHL. MGM Resorts is also now the official resort of the NHL.

Individually, two of the NHL’s teams have not waited to partner with other gaming companies. Both the Golden Knights and the New Jersey Devils now have deals in place with sportsbook provider William Hill.

The American Gaming Association campaign

The AGA has long maintained illegal sports betting is a rapidly growing market in America. It also puts forward that laws against it only serve to push it all further underground.

The AGA says sports betting has only grown more prevalent since PASPA passed in 1992. It claims Americans now bet in excess of $150 billion annually, almost all illegal wagers. It remains to be seen how illegal wagering will be affected by the repeal of PASPA.

The AGA sends out press releases surrounding major sports events like the Super Bowl and March Madness estimating how much money Americans will bet on the events. The organization also called for the repeal of PASPA.

The message is clear: The AGA feels maintains a legal and regulated marketplace will generate tax revenue and jobs. They also say it will protect consumers while continuing to strengthen the integrity of major sports across the US.

September 2018 Congressional Hearing

There have been few opportunities for the various stakeholders on this issue to meet. However, five opinion leaders with differing viewpoints met on Sep. 27 to discuss their points of view with members of the US House of Representatives.

The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations conducted the hearing, which was entitled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.” The hearing featured statements by five witnesses and a question-and-answer session from the 16 members of the subcommittee.

The main purpose of the hearing was to present information to the assembled lawmakers. No bill or motion will come from this discussion.

The five witnesses at the hearing were:

  • Les Bernal, National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling
  • Jon Bruning, Counselor for Coalition to Stop Online Gambling
  • Becky Harris, Chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board
  • Jocelyn Moore, Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs of the NFL
  • Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs of the American Gaming Association

As indicated by their titles and positions, most of the witnesses presented testimony against state-regulated sports betting. They repeatedly cited concerns about game integrity and protection of minors.

Committee chair Jim Sensenbrenner (R – WI) concluded with a statement that indicated the lone takeaway from the hearing was that federal legislation and oversight would be imperative for sports betting. However, without another hearing or bill proposition, the state-based spread of sports betting is likely to continue at its current pace.

Privacy Policy