In the US, betting on sports is as much part of the culture as the games themselves. Every day, thousands of dollars worth of bets are placed on NBA games, the NFL, the NHL and other major leagues. Both land-based and online facilities are available to bettors, with land-based options restricted to certain States.

Until recently, land-based sports betting was heavily restricted, and illegal throughout most of the country. Technically, putting money down online was not legal, but not specifically stipulated as such by law. Thus, punters could utilize overseas bookmakers holding licenses in their own country.

Current Legal Status in the US

As of the 14th of May 2018, it is now legal to offer sports betting in the USA. Prior to 2018, wagering activities were banned under the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The Act was also known as the Bradley Act, after one of the major lawmakers Sen. Bill Bradley from New Jersey.

At the time, the aim of the Act was to stop the countrywide spread of sports betting in the US. When the Act was written into law, several States had already legalized sports betting in their own right. Subsequently, Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana were grandfathered into the PASPA, and were subsequently exempt from the law.

In May of 2018, when the legality of PASPA was called into question, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey, stating that the 1992 ban violated the States rights. This means that unless, and until, Congress passes a new law, each State can now offer legalized wagering at their discretion. Effectively, the activity has been fully legalized throughout the US, unless a State declares otherwise.  

Which States Offer Online Sports Betting?

Following the May 14th ruling striking down PASPA, several States immediately started preparing for full-scale sports betting. Just one month after the ruling Delaware started offering full-blown wagering services in three of their local land-based casinos.

New Jersey has also legalized sports betting, with operations in Atlantic City and some racetracks. Nevada continues to offer betting facilities, and now includes online platforms. West Virginia opted to go legal in September, with land-based facilities and mobile sportsbooks added in December. Pennsylvania joined the action in November with a mobile service, while retail options are yet to be implemented. Mississippi has also made it legal to bet, but only in land-based establishments or at water-based casinos. In New Mexico, a tribal group has authorized the legalization, despite the rest of the State not choosing to legalize the activity at this point.

An Update on Legislation in the US

Since the ruling in May last year, only a handful of States have managed to vote and implement the legislation of either land-based or online sports betting. Many are however, currently working on the logistics, and will be hoping to pass legislation in the next 12 months. These include Louisiana, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, California, South Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Ohio.

Can Wagers Be Placed Outside of State?

No, only States with legalized facilities can accept wagers. For mobile apps and online platforms, geolocation tools will be used to ensure that you are in a location where the practice is legal.

What About Offshore Betting Sites?

Prior to legalization, betting at offshore sites was possible, but not strictly legal. There was no defined text forbidding the practice, however banks were ordered to flag and stop all deposits made to overseas sites. The current legislation includes online and mobile sports wagering into the legalization process as long as it is practiced within the State upholding the law. Foreign-based sites will now have stiff competition from local online operators.

What Are Some of the Major Sports That You Can Bet On?

Land-based and online sports betting encompass a broad range of options for US fans. For local punters, putting money on the NFL is possible, with Money Line and Outright wagers on games, as well the Super Bowl and Conference bets. If you follow Basketball, you can bet on every single NBA game. Baseball is also open for bets, as is Ice Hockey, Golf, Tennis, Volleyball, Horse Racing, Motor Racing, Skiing and Formula One.

Some of the larger Internet-based bookmakers also offer wagers on niche sports like Chess, Bandy, Gaelic sports and eSports. You can also put money on things like politics, entertainment, finance and world events. Every bookmaker will have a different range of options on offer, with varying numbers of markets for each option.

What Types of Bets are Available?

The types of bets that you can place will depend on where the bet is placed, and what State you are in. With online platforms, you will get the widest range of options. Fixed Odds wagers are the most popular, and these include the Money Line and Outright options. The Money Line bet is a simple prediction of if a team will win a match. This is commonly used in Football or Basketball. Outright wagers are used on extended time events where you can bet weeks or months in advance. These include bets where you predict the Super Bowl winners, the Stanley Cup Winners and the World Series Winners. Some sites will also offer pool or Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, where all the bets go into a single pool and the funds are then distributed to the winners.

Where Can I Bet?

If you are based in the US, you should first check whether your State has legalized sports betting. It may be that legalization is imminent in your area, and preparations are already underway for land or Internet-based facilities. For those places where it is legal, wagers can be placed at accredited online casinos and bookmakers, and at racetracks and land-based facilities.

The PASPA law was only abolished less than a year ago, so it is going to take some time for operations to get into full swing. For now, many players can bet online or via a mobile app. Some local apps have already become available for local punters, while overseas sites have been offering this service for years.