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June 24, 2021

Is Sports Betting Legalized? – Sports Betting

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In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court voided the federal ban on sports betting, leaving legalization to the state-level governments. 

Several states have since moved swiftly to make sports betting legal in their territory. While most bettors are excited, many are unsure of the current legal climate in their state.

What states have legal and regulated sports betting? What states are now discussing the possibility of legalizing sports betting? What is the impact of legalization on the sports betting industry? 

This article covers everything you need to know about legal U.S. sports betting. We provide the state-by-state legal landscape of sports betting: where sports betting is legal, where its legalization is still pending, and where it’s highly unlikely or never to be legal (and why). 

We explore the two legal pathways to legalizing sports betting. In addition, we explain how legalization impacts consumer behavior. 

Included in the discussion is the economic impact of legalization on the sports betting industry. We have a table for the betting handles and tax revenues generated in every state with legal sports betting.

A list of sports betting bills and the latest developments on U.S. sports betting legislation is also given, followed by a timeline of events that led to the legalization of sports betting in the country.  

Where Is Sports Betting Legal?

The AGA (American Gaming Association) keeps a directory of licensed online and retail sportsbooks in states with legal sports betting. 

Click here to access the AGA’s interactive sports betting map and get the latest state-level information on key regulatory details and online or mobile sports betting.

In summary, the legal landscape of sports betting in the U.S. as of April 6, 2021 is as follows:

Sports Betting Activity Inactive Sports Betting
Live, Legal (21 States + DC) No Legislation in 2021 (7 States)
Legal, Not Yet Operational (5 States) Dead Legislation in 2021 (3 States)
Active or Pre-Filed Legislation in 2021 (14 States)

What do these classifications mean?

  • “Live, Legal” means single-game sports betting is legally offered to consumers through retail and/or online sportsbooks. 
  • “Legal, Not Yet Operational” means the states have authorized sports betting but not yet officially launched. 
  • “Active or Pre-Filed Legislation” means bills to legalize single-game sports betting have been prefiled or introduced in the state legislature. It can also mean that a voter referendum is scheduled. 

We further group the states based on a common legal landscape.

11 States Allowing Full Mobile Betting With Multiple Options

Colorado

  • Sports betting is legal in Colorado. After the 2019 passing of HB 19-1327, Proposition DD was approved by voters in November 2019. A “yes” vote on Proposition DD means sports betting will be legal and taxed in Colorado.
  • Retail and online sports betting were allowed to start in-state on May 1, 2020.
  • In 2020, Colorado accepted its first online and retail bets and quickly became one of the most robust markets.  In September of that year, Colorado recorded over $200 million in monthly betting handles.
  • Colorado is proud to have one of the most operator-friendly setups in the USA. In the coming years, more digital sportsbooks are expected to be live there.
  • The  Centennial State has allowed 33 of its nearly 40 retail casinos to apply for a master sports betting license and partner with one land and one online sportsbook.

SportsBetting.com is now live in Colorado. We operate under CG Colorado LLC, which is registered and incorporated in CO. CG Colorado is licensed and managed by the Colorado Division of Gaming.

We are a regulated internet sports betting operator in partnership with Johnny Nolon’s Casino.

If you’re physically located in Colorado, you can bet with us through our website or our mobile app. You can safely download the app here.

Illinois

  • With six licensing categories, IL’s Sports Wagering Act allowed brick-and-mortar wagering at casinos and racetracks.
  • Bettors’ participation has been slow recently due to stiff taxes and fees and limited online skin counts. A skin count is the number of licenses available to legally operate online sports betting.
  • Illinois bettors need to register at a retail sportsbook before betting with an online option. This requirement has been waived monthly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indiana

  • SB 552 was introduced in Indiana to include sports betting. The bill also impacts riverboat casinos, the construction of new casinos, and a rule limiting the number of licenses a casino owner may have. 
  • It only took a few months from legalization to first bet for Indiana to achieve its sports betting success. More operators and a business-friendly environment contribute to IN’s vigorous market.

Iowa

  • Iowa started accepting bets on August 15, 2019 and has methodically grown in the months since. The Hawkeye State took in $72 million in bets just for September 2020.
  • The signing of SWF 617 legalized sports betting. The bill includes a 6.75% tax rate on revenue, $45,000 licensing fee and $10,000 annual renewal fee.
  • While mobile betting is allowed, prop bets involving in-state college teams are banned. 

Michigan

  • The Wolverine State’s legislation allows for a competitive market with multiple operators. MI launched in-person wagering at the MGM Grand Detroit in March 2020.
  • At the end of 2018, HB 4926 passed and included language that would develop a regulatory framework around sports betting. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by the outgoing governor.

Nevada

  • Nevada legalized sports betting in 1949, and the tax imposed by the federal government was at 10%. When the tax was reduced to 2% in 1974, sports betting in the state grew.
  • In 1992, Congress passed the PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) to ban the future expansion of sports betting. But Nevada has already been grandfathered in.
  • Still, NV hasn’t quite mastered online wagering. Bettors should come into a casino for an in-person registration before they can bet online.

New Jersey

  • NJ’s attempt to implement sports betting led to the lawsuit that ultimately overturned the PASPA. Eight brick-and-mortar casinos and 5 online sportsbooks have sports betting available in the state.
  • Called “The Gold Standard” for legal sports betting, NJ was the third state to take a legal bet. It continues to set state records, thanks to a competitive and operator-friendly system.
  • Although there are physical books at the Meadowlands and in Atlantic City, over 80% of bets are made online. That number has risen since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pennsylvania

  • PA allowed Penn National to open sports betting at Hollywood Casino in Grantville. It was the first casino to offer sports betting in PA.  
  • The state legalized sports betting as part of a comprehensive gaming expansion in 2017. The law, which created a sports betting framework, included an activation clause.
  • Despite astronomical fees for operators breaking into the business, the state pulls in close to $500 million in bets during the football season.
  • The PGCB (Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board) regulates PA sports betting. The committee is responsible for licensing and testing online sportsbooks before they go live.

Tennessee

  • Because Tennessee has no casinos, it’s the only state that has online-only sports betting. TN is also the only state that makes the operators return a 10% hold. ‘Hold’ in sports betting is the percentage of money that sportsbooks keep for every dollar staked.
  • The House approved legislation to establish strictly online sports betting. It would not allow betting in any brick-and-mortar facility. The legislation, which imposes a 20% privilege tax on online gambling, went into effect on July 1, 2019.

Virginia

  • Virginia accepted its first online sports bet in January 2021. Though there is a limit on the number of skins, the cap could not stop most top sportsbooks from entering the market. 
  • BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, and BetRivers have already gone live in the state. 

West Virginia

  • WV passed the West Virginia Sports Lottery Wagering Act on March 10, 2018. 
  • Hollywood Casino was the first to offer sports betting on September 1, 2018. The state’s other four casinos will likely follow soon.

4 States With Physical Sportsbooks Only 

Arkansas

  • The Arkansas Racing Commission gave the thumbs up for sports betting to start at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort on July 1, 2019.
  • Online wagering is still not allowed in the state. A ban on in-state professional teams and events betting is possible.
  • AR lawmakers have considered statewide mobile legislation. But this may not be happening soon in one of the nation’s more politically and culturally conservative states.

Delaware

  • DE was the first state outside Nevada to accept a legal single-game sports bet.
  • DE’s lottery-run sports betting industry still bans online betting, leaving just three retail sportsbooks in the state.
  • NFL and college games parlay betting is available at retailers.

New Mexico

  • When Santa Ana Casino took the first bet in October 2018, NM became the sixth state to allow legal sports betting, at least at tribal casinos.
  • The Mescalero Apache tribe struck a deal with William Hill for the 2019 NFL Season. The partnership allows all forms of Class III gambling, including sports betting. 

Class III gambling is generally referred to as casino-style gaming.

New York

  • In June 2019, the New York State Gaming Commission officially approved rules to regulate sports betting. The rules do not include online or mobile betting. 
  • Assembly Bill 6113, which was introduced in the state legislature, covers online or mobile betting. 

2 States With In-Person Online Betting

Mississippi

  • In 2017, the state removed from the Mississippi Gaming Control Act language that prohibited sports betting. After the 2018 SCOTUS decision, MS Gaming Commission established regulations for sports betting. 
  • In-person sports betting was launched on August 1. At present, 10 casinos cater to sports bettors. Mobile betting is still prohibited, though.

Montana

  • Montana officially began taking online bets in March 2020 using a sports betting app run by the company that operates the state lottery. 
  • This government-run monopoly only works in licensed gaming properties. It can also jeopardize competitive prices from other sportsbooks. 
  • The state allows the Montana State Lottery to offer sports betting at locations already involved in gambling activities. Examples of these places are bars and taverns with machines that sell lottery tickets.

4 States With One Mobile Betting Option 

New Hampshire

  • Online betting began on December 30, 2019. While DraftKings is the only mobile operator in the state, several retail betting locations have opened.
  • HB 480 was introduced in Jan 2019, authorizing the state Lottery Commission to conduct sports betting directly or through an authorized agent. Bets could be placed via the use of mobile devices and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. 
  • The legislation prohibits betting on New Hampshire colleges and universities.

Oregon

  • Since 2019, the state has expanded sports betting based on its pre-PASPA laws. 
  • An exemption in the federal sports betting ban allowed Oregon to offer parlay cards. The state officials would authorize SB Tech to take bets without a separate act of the legislature.
  • The state took its first bet on August 27, 2019. But with just one legal mobile betting option, Oregon has not been able to keep up with competitive markets.

Rhode Island

  • RI Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the state budget on June 22, 2018, which included a provision allowing sports betting. 
  • Since then, RI has been offering legal sports betting when retail sportsbooks opened at its two commercial casinos. 
  • Lawmakers overruled in-person mobile registration requirements. Still, the small population and sole legal option keep revenues low, despite the state’s proximity to Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Washington DC

  • HB 1975 was introduced on February 8, 2019 to legalize sports betting but limiting it to tribal casinos in the state. The bill would provide for sports wagering and mobile betting at the tribal casinos.
  • The state’s only district-wide legal mobile app is run by the lottery. Since it has no legal competition, the app has offered betting lines worse than market averages. 
  • The mobile app is also geofenced out of any federal properties, which is a major issue in the state. Overall, Washington DC hasn’t generated much from sports betting because of unfair pricing.

Where Is Sports Betting Legalization Pending or Likely in 2021? 

3 States Awaiting Further Action by Legislature 

Louisiana

  • In 2020, voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes supported legal sports betting, including all those around New Orleans, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge. In Louisiana, a parish is a territorial subdivision that’s equivalent to a county in other states.
  • Louisiana is the first state to allow sports betting at a county or parish level. Still, it remains to be seen how or if online betting will happen in the state.
  • Lawmakers need to determine key regulatory details, including allowing online access, a complex legislative process.

Maryland

  • During the November 2020 election, Maryland voters said yes to legalizing sports gambling. The move brought legal sports betting to the last Mid-Atlantic state without a licensed sportsbook.
  • Lawmakers should be busy as there’s still more work to do in the legislature. They have to develop rules, including licensing of specific retail establishments and how mobile betting will work.
  • But given the widespread, bipartisan support for online and retail betting, Marylanders expect the launch of a robust and competitive digital marketplace as early as 2021.

South Dakota

  • The Mount Rushmore State legalized sports betting as part of a ballot initiative in November 2020.
  • Lawmakers should still push for follow-up legislation. Sports bettors should expect retail books to open in Deadwood’s historic gaming community and tribal casinos as early as 2021.
  • South Dakota’s constitution only allows betting within Deadwood and tribal lands. Still, sports fans are hopeful statewide mobile wagering could be approved as long as the servers are in Deadwood. 

2 States With Approved Sports Betting and Awaiting First Bet 

North Carolina

  • North Carolina made in-person sports betting legal in July 2019 but only for two tribal casinos in the western part of the state. Both casinos are still working towards opening their respective sportsbooks.
  • While that bill did not allow mobile wagering in any form, the Tar Heel State is likely to consider statewide mobile betting in 2021.

Washington

  • Washington made sports betting legal in the state on March 25, 2020. Still, no bets have been taken because the state is in negotiations with tribal representatives. Both parties need to come up with terms of a new agreement that will permit sports betting on tribal lands.
  • Mobile sports betting will only be allowed if it is placed within a casino facility. Unfortunately, this condition is a huge deterrent to the state’s revenue potential. For this reason, statewide mobile betting isn’t likely to happen soon.

Where Is Sports Betting Legalization Possible in 2021 & 2022? 

9 States Under Consideration by Legislature

Arizona

  • In February 2019, Arizona Senator Sonny Borrelli enacted SB 1163 to legalize sports betting in the Grand Canyon state by giving exclusivity to its Native American tribes. The bill includes a ban on sports betting in Pinal and Maricopa counties.
  • While there are key details to be resolved, Arizona officials are still considering a path for state tribes to make sports bets. Online betting may be a tougher endeavor, though. 

Connecticut

  • At the beginning of 2019, the General Assembly received several bills proposing the legalization of sports betting.
  • One bill proposed to give the tribes the right to offer sports gambling in their casinos. The Connecticut Lottery and Sportech, operating 16 pari-mutuel wagering venues throughout Connecticut, would also be given the right to offer live sports betting under the bill.
  • Connecticut lawmakers need to work out a deal that appeases all the state’s powerful gaming interests, including the tribes. Until stakeholders can reach an agreement, sports betting remains illegal.

Georgia

  • Polls in Georgia indicate that voters approve of legalized sports betting. Executives from the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, and Atlanta Hawks also showed their support of sports betting in late 2019. 
  • Georgia doesn’t have casino gaming of any kind, and this complicates the legalization process. Also, conservative Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp could be a veto threat to sports gambling.
  • Popular support is on the sports betting supporters’ ’side, but it’s hard to say if that’s enough to sway anti-gambling viewpoints in the statehouse. 
  • A last-minute legalization bill failed in the latter part of the 2020 legislative session. Still, legal betting could get another shot in the next session.

Kansas

  • With both the House and Senate introducing bills to approve sports gambling in 2020, Kansas sports fans would soon start to enjoy legal betting in the Sunflower State. 
  • Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely struck down that year’s session, and lawmakers will have to introduce another bill in 2021.
  • The 2020 progress is an encouraging sign, though. The idea of sports betting seemed to have gained support. Still, key regulatory issues need to be resolved before online betting becomes politically palatable in Kansas.

Kentucky

  • Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is an advocate of legal sports betting. Unfortunately, Republican leadership in the state tanked the bill despite popular bipartisan support. 
  • A sports betting bill was introduced to the legislative committee in the Kentucky House in early 2020 but quickly hit a snag. Apparently, conservative, anti-gambling sentiment runs deep in the Bluegrass State and remains a monumental political barrier.
  • The state requires that bills get at least 60% support for them to pass. Until Republicans get on board, the legalization of sports betting in KY is highly unlikely. In that environment, statewide mobile wagering is even more difficult.

Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and both parties in the Democrat-controlled General Court are strong proponents of sports betting. Yet, the bill hasn’t passed. 
  • There are several important issues state officials have not agreed upon. These issues include which entities they would allow to take bets and whether legal betting should cover bets placed on in-state college teams. Some legislators favor a fully competitive market, while others have their preferences.
  • Only after these issues are resolved will legal online and retail wagering come to Massachusetts in the next two years.

Missouri

  • Missouri legalized betting on horse races in 1984 but only at racetracks. Since there aren’t any racetracks in Missouri, there’s no legal betting on horses. So currently, the Show-Me State doesn’t have any legal sports betting options. 
  • Missouri lawmakers pre-filled three bills that would allow the state’s first-ever legal retail and online sportsbooks to operate in 2021. These bills show that lawmakers support multiple mobile betting options with business-friendly state taxes.
  • Had the coronavirus pandemic not hit in 2020, the bills that floated through the legislature would not have been dropped as the session ended early.
  • Missouri feels the mounting pressure brought by the states that are up and running with legal sports betting, like Arkansas, Iowa, and Illinois. Sports betting fans among Missourians expect to see some action in 2021 for both online and in-person wagering.

Ohio

  • Ohio has been anticipating legal sports betting for quite some time. With both sides of Congress in approval of the betting bill, it may not be long before the bill is passed.  
  • The State Senate had several meetings about the bill that would legalize sports gambling legalization. Still, it has failed to act on it. The bill came up in several hearings in 2020, and, each time, nothing got accomplished.
  • Not even Sen. Ecklund expected this bad of a delay. It appears that the chaos of the 2020 legislative season was just too much for these lawmakers.
  • Still, the State Senate wants to rectify a proposal that will combine what it wants with what the State House wants. Until this happens, sports betting fans will have to wait to make their first bets in Ohio.
  • If Ohio lawmakers and sportsbooks want to get in on the NCAA and NFL betting during the fall and winter, regulators should push harder to get things up and operating by the start of the NFL season.

Vermont

  • Currently, the General Assembly has two pending bills that would legalize sports betting: one in the House and one in the Senate. Still, Vermont lawmakers have not signed or passed any sports betting bills into law. 
  • There’s still hope for sports bettors in VT, though. It appears that the state’s lawmakers are only taking a cautious approach. They just want to carefully examine the results and tax revenue generated from other states that have already successfully launched sportsbooks.
  • Due to lawmakers’ inaction, VT residents will have to wait another year for in-state sportsbooks to join offshore sports betting sites as legal options.
  • Vermont is one of the remaining states without casinos. As New England’s sports betting market continues to grow, VT may be feeling pressured to accept bets, at least online.

2 States Where Action Is Possible in 2021 

Florida

  • Some Florida politicians have supported legal sports betting. But several legal and logistical obstacles have derailed any legislative attempts.
  • A 2018 constitutional amendment prohibiting lawmakers from passing betting legislation without a voter referendum would not necessarily stop the legislature from authorizing sports betting. Still, it could be a major legal stumbling block.
  • The interests of Florida’s Seminole tribe are another concern. Because the Seminoles own the state’s largest casinos, any new gaming concept would have to merit their approval. 
  • The Seminoles have supported the right to open sportsbooks in other states, so they may also do so in Florida. But any authorization would have to be on their terms, which may not include online betting.
  • For now, the state continues a multi-year standoff over slot machine tax payments and exclusivity rights. These issues will need to be settled before sports betting authorization can take place.

Texas

  • Even after some back and forth of bills, nothing has gotten close to passing at the Senate level. Up until now, offshore sports betting sites are the only way to get into betting action while in Texas. 
  • The year 2021 still seems like a long shot to get Texas involved in the sports gambling business. But the pressures of the 2021 session, where the legislature meets regularly in odd-numbered years, could move Texas past its long-standing gambling opposition.
  • There have been bills to decriminalize sports betting, but this hardly benefits anyone in the state. In 2019, Texas tried to legalize sports betting, but just within a few months after it was introduced, it was struck down.
  • The Lone Star state has to act quickly if they want to legalize sports betting and allow operators to come in. 

2 States Where Tribal Action Is Possible

North Dakota

  • Legal sports betting in North Dakota has not yet been made possible at the state level. But the state has considered authorizing sports betting through domestic means. If pending legislation is passed, ND bettors would be able to bet on sports through domestic and international online sportsbooks.
  • Federal or state laws allow overseas sportsbooks operating legally outside the United States to do their business. This means ND bettors can freely place their bets through these offshore sportsbooks without violating U.S .gambling laws. 
  • There’s been no organized political movement to legalize sports gambling in ND. But state tribes are considering opening sportsbooks, which they insist would be permitted under existing law. This would likely mean ND could be one of the rare states that take bets without legislation.

Wyoming

  • Wyoming is one of the states without laws against offshore sports betting. Still, Wyoming lawmakers seem to have no interest in embracing state-regulated sports betting entertainment. 
  • The state has not made any move to legalize state-regulated sports betting in Wyoming, rendering domestic sports betting illegal at the state level.
  • It’s hard to say when or if the Equality State will respond to the clamor that’s sweeping across the state to expand the sports gambling market.
  • There’s absolutely no legislation being introduced that’s even remotely relevant to sports betting or any type of gambling. This frosty position concerning state-based sportsbooks won’t be giving a warm welcome to sportsbooks anytime soon.

2023, Beyond & Never 

4 States With No Movement 

Alaska

  • No legal sports betting options are available in Alaska. The United States’ 49th state may actually be the 49th to legalize sports betting, if at all. 
  • Gambling in the Last Frontier is limited to fantasy sports, dog sledding, and bingo. Dogsledding and bingo are only available when run by a charitable organization. 

Hawaii

  • There’s no major gambling entity of any kind in Hawaii. It appears that sports betting will not be coming to the state any time soon, if ever.
  • Hawaii strictly prohibits gambling, including racetracks, fantasy sports, and all types of sports betting.

Idaho

  • Idaho does not have any state laws that would allow state-regulated sports betting. Current state laws are strongly against gambling, except for horse racing. 
  • The Gem State doesn’t even allow fantasy sports. Clearly, there’s little political appetite for legal sports betting in the state.

Utah

  • There’s no sports gambling or betting of any form in Utah. The state’s deep connection to the Mormon faith means any type of gambling or betting is unlikely to be welcomed in Utah anytime soon. Utah is among the five states in the United States without a state lottery.

4 States With Possible Tribal Action

California

  • Legal sports betting may be a reality in California, but most likely not until 2023 and only at tribal casinos. 
  • The filing of papers for an initiative backed by 18 tribes headed by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians came in four months after CA Sen. Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray introduced a bill that would include a sports betting measure. 
  • The 2022 ballot measure would allow sportsbooks on tribal grounds. Betting could begin as early as 2023 if approved, but only in person, not online. 
  • Several industry stakeholders are still hoping for statewide online betting that could be the country’s most lucrative market. But despite the billions of dollars at stake, it seems the tribal casino-only option is the most likely reality for a legal betting market.

Minnesota

  • MN lawmakers have considered sports betting bills in the past, but the state has not determined how legal gaming would work and which entities (among the Minnesota Native American tribes) would be allowed to take bets.
  • Minnesota has legal gambling at tribal casinos. But the state needs to persuade the Native American tribal leaders to change their minds and allow online and retail sportsbooks.

Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma gaming is ruled by Native American entities, and most seem uninterested in sports betting until other key issues with the state government have been ironed out. 
  • Two tribes worked out sports betting deals in 2020, but those were later revoked. A court ruling that revived an old compact with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation gives tribes the advantage in negotiations with the government. 

Wisconsin

  • There has been little sports betting momentum in Wisconsin’s tribal stakeholders or the state legislature. Any type of sports betting would most likely come through the state’s Native American casinos.

4 States Under Consideration by Legislature (But They’re Longshots) 

Alabama

  • Alabama is among the states that have yet to allow sports betting, which isn’t a surprise as the Cotton State always had a strict stance on any form of gambling, especially on sports. 
  • Alabama prohibits state lottery and horse racing. The state has only one Native American tribe, the Poarch Band of Creek, who have been given permission to own and operate casinos within state lines.
  • The legislature had a sports betting bill underway in March before COVID-19 ended the session prematurely. The bill would have included in-person and online sports betting, but it’s a challenge to pass this bill in a state that strongly opposes gaming.

Nebraska

  • In November, voters approved three constitutional amendments that would legalize games of chance at the state’s licensed horse tracks. That doesn’t necessarily mean sports betting will be allowed at these facilities, though.
  • The most recent bill introduced in early 2020 would legalize sports betting, fantasy sports, and poker, tagged as skill-based games. The bill was already a long shot at passing, and the pandemic isn’t helping the process.

South Carolina

  • Sports betting is very much legal and available to all South Carolina citizens since online sports betting is not explicitly prohibited in the state. This means that online sportsbooks can legally operate and offer sports betting and odds to both South Carolina residents and tourists.
  • Several bills were introduced in recent years in South Carolina, but none made any progress. Legalization appears to be a long shot to happen any time soon, especially with strong gambling aversion from leading state political figures.

Maine

  • Gov. Janet Mills shot down Maine’s potential to be the most competitive market in New England when she vetoed a bill that would legalize sports betting.
  • Mills was unconvinced at the time that Mainers wanted expanded gambling. She also believed the proposal lacked protections for problem gambling. 
  • Sports betting proponents are hoping to work with Mills on a new sports betting bill in 2021.

Pathways to Legalizing Sports Betting

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the federal ban on legal sports betting, about 75% of U.S. states have legalized sports betting or started the process.

U.S. states have two ways to make any policy or proposal legal. It could either be through a statewide referendum (which happens as a November vote) or a law passed by the state legislature. 

A referendum is a direct vote on specific issues or proposals. 

In U.S. politics, initiatives and referendums are electoral devices through which voters may express their wishes or sentiments concerning government policy or proposed legislation. People can vote to either approve or reject the proposed policy or legislation.

A U.S. state legislature is the legislative body of any of the 50 states. In 27 states, the legislature is called the Legislature or the State Legislature. In some states, it’s called the General Assembly, General Court, or Legislative Assembly.

On May 14, 2018, SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) issued the much-anticipated decision that threw out the federal law that kept the states from authorizing sports betting. 

Many states quickly legalized sports betting after the decision overturned PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992). The lure of increased state tax revenues from sports betting was the driving force of these policy changes.

Bills usually take three years to pass from the time they’re introduced.

Government affairs officials say that a bill may or may not get out in the first year. In the second year, the same people that sponsored the bill try again. Then in the third year, it passes. 

For example, if some states don’t pass a bill in 2021, there’s still a chance it will pass the year after.

The Impact of Sports Betting Legalization

Horse racing has been around since the 1800s. But it was the inception of professional baseball in 1876 that put traditional sports betting at the forefront.

Fast forward to the 1920s, often referred to as the Golden Era of sports. Back then, college football and basketball became popular sports betting options. 

Interestingly, during the Great Depression, football pool cards became a source of quick, easy cash and were in high demand. Sports betting was widespread, but up until this point, it was actually illegal.

The 2018 Supreme Court ruling that legalized sports betting sparked debate on whether this action brought the gaming industry more benefits than harm.

Let’s look at how legalization affected the American bettors’ behavior and the sports betting industry’s revenue.

Behavioral Effects of Legalized Betting on American Consumers

In 2019, the AGA conducted a survey on sports betting consumer behavior. Results show sports bettors’ increasing preference for legal sportsbooks, choosing them over illegal operators when betting. 

About 48% of current sports bettors in states where sports betting was newly legalized reported that the regulation increased their betting frequency. 

The bettors also said that securely placing bets is the most critical factor for them considering future sports bets.

Past-year bettors in states with legal sports betting in 2019 noted:

  • 12% increase in online and mobile betting spending with legal operators
  • 25% decrease in spending with illegal bookies
  • 3% increase in spending with offshore operators

The figures were based on interviews with over 3,000 American adults over 21 years old of various subgroups. The poll results highlighted the need for states to allow legal options to draw customers away from unregulated and unsafe operators.

Among the key factors that influence conversion from the illegal to the legal market were:

  • 25% – assurance and confidence that bets will be paid out 
  • 20% – awareness of legal alternatives
  • 19% – preference for using regulated sportsbooks

If it wasn’t for bettors’ confusion between legal and illegal gambling operators, migration from the unregulated sports betting market would likely have been more significant. 

Although 74% of American sports bettors say it’s important to bet only through legal entities, 52% of past-year bettors said they engaged in illegal sports betting activities in 2019. 

Surprisingly, 55% of those interviewed said they placed most of their bets with illegal operators, saying they thought they were betting legally. The results strengthened the need to educate sports bettors on how to bet legally and why. 

Economic Impact of Legalized Sports Betting

With a global client base of over 1,500 financial institutions, government organizations, and international corporations, Oxford Economics analyzed the potential economic impacts of legalized sports betting in the U.S.

Their findings noted that the direct effects, including the jobs and incomes at sports betting operations, are mainly due to the spending shift from illegal to legal markets. The change resulted in a net gain to the legal, measured economy.

The results of their study can be summed up in this table: 

Sports betting operations are expected to benefit $11.0 billion of total labor income:

  • $4.0 billion will be from direct labor income, including wages, salaries, tips, and benefits. 
  • $7.0 billion will be from indirect labor income.

Employment in sports betting operations is expected to total 86,819 jobs. 

An estimated total employment impact of 216,671 indirect and induced jobs will be supported.

Sports betting is expected to contribute a massive $22.4 billion to U.S. GDP. 

GDP (gross domestic product) is the total monetary value of finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific period.

Fiscal impacts are projected to reach $8.4 billion. Fiscal effects include state, local, and federal tax impacts, broken down as:

  • $5.5 billion of direct fiscal impacts consisting of gaming taxes estimated at $2.6 billion and personal income tax payments by bettors worth around $1.4 billion
  • $2.8 billion of indirect fiscal impacts

Tax impacts of $8.4 billion are also the combined total of state and local share at $3.4 billion and federal share at $4.9 billion.

For more information on Oxford Economics’ study on legalized sports betting’s economic impact, click here.

Major Leagues’ Potential Gains from Legal Sports Betting

The AGA commissioned Nielsen Sports to look into how much the following major leagues can potentially earn from legalized sports betting:

  • The NFL (National Football League)
  • The NBA (National Basketball Association)
  • The MLB (Major League Baseball) 
  • The NHL (National Hockey League)  

Nielsen Sports is a premier provider of sports measurement and analytics, with a network of analysts stretching across the globe.

Nielsen’s findings show that the four major sports leagues will earn a collective $4.2 billion from widely available legal sports betting. This data proves that working together with the gaming industry will pay handsome dividends for all sports stakeholders. 

Legal sports betting will also rake in enormous opportunities for state and local economies due to the tax revenue from jobs created. 

The Nielsen study evaluated the revenue streams that legal sports betting could generate for the four professional leagues.

The revenues included spending from betting operators on advertising, data, and sponsorship. The projection also considered revenue generated by the increased consumption of the leagues’ media and products.

Revenue projections for the NFL and NHL show that those leagues and teams stand to profit $573 million and $65 million, respectively.

Nielsen’s research also shows that legal sports betting can generate additional revenues of $154 million for MLB and $160 million for the NBA due to spending by betting operators and data providers.

Legal Sports Betting Revenue

The table below shows the information on each state with regards to:

  • Sportsbook revenue – the gross revenue collectively generated by legal sportsbooks
  • State taxes – taxes collected in each jurisdiction.
  • Total handle – the amount of legal sports bets (in dollars) made in each state since May 2018
  • The hold percentage across all sportsbooks in the state – the percentage of bets kept by licensed sportsbooks

 

State Legal Sports Betting Started Sportsbooks’ Revenue State Taxes Collected Total Handle Hold %
Arkansas July 2019 $7,030,440 $940,114 $51,334,516 13.70%
Colorado May 2020 $109,432,082 $4,492,643 $1,779,207,287 6.15%
Delaware June 2018 $75,400,372 $28,824,041 $367,918,079 20.49%
District of Columbia May 2020 $17,686,712 $1,768,696 $111,576,977 15.85%
Illinois March 2020 $173,440,090 $26,016,014 $2,464,409,071 7.04%
Indiana Sept 2019 $226,297,631 $21,498,274 $2,826,768,609 8.01%
Iowa Aug 2019 $93,418,595 $6,356,831 $1,242,044,934 7.52%
Michigan Mar 2020 $45,068,292 $1,102,728 $607,182,431 7.42%
Mississippi Aug 2018 $117,089,891 $14,058,257 $1,005,604,124 11.64%
Montana Mar 2020 $4,276,650 $4,276,925 $31,526,492 13.57%
Nevada 1975 $867,325,000 $58,577,047 $13,824,112,901 6.27%
New Hampshire Dec 2019 $29,667,331 $13,676,111 $403,701,747 7.35%
New Jersey June 2018 $920,868,219 $113,038,481 $13,548,844,423 6.80%
New York June 2019 $23,275,283 $2,345,489 $315,975,730* 7.37%*
Oregon Aug 2019 $30,928,466 $30,928,466 $352,109,651 8.78%
Pennsylvania Nov 2018 $326,683,225 $111,072,300 $6,213,461,914 7.51%/5.26%
Rhode Island Nov 2018 $48,178,107 $25,025,049 $555,425,716 8.67%
Tennessee Nov 2020 $60,376,000 $12,343,918 $699,393,000 8.63%
Virginia Jan 2021 $3,586,077 $39,710 $58,896,564 6.09%
West Virginia Aug 2018 $61,925,542 $5,249,157 $770,753,771 8.03%

 

Note that state taxes indicate only taxes that the state actually receives, excluding municipal taxes and administrative charges. 

The data date back to May 2018, when the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 federal ban on sports betting outside Nevada.

Sports Betting Bills

Even before the Supreme Court decision in 2018, there has already been interest in the legalization of sports betting in the U.S.

Several bills are on file around the country, with new laws on the books. Below is a table that summarizes the legislation by state, from 2016 to 2018. 

2018 Legislation

State Bills Summary
California ACA 18 Constitutional amendment would legalize sports betting.
Connecticut H 5307, S 540 Bills would legalize sports betting and offer lottery draw games.
District of Columbia B 22-944 Called the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, this law would legalize sports betting.
Illinois H 4214, H 5186

S 7, S 2478, S 3125

S 3432

SB3432 would create the Illinois Sports Wagering Act.
Indiana S 405, H 1325 Bills would authorize sports betting at riverboats, racinos, and satellite facilities.
Iowa H 2448 An Act relating to the conduct of sports betting, including applicable penalties.
Kansas H 2533, H 2752

H 2792, H 2793

S 455

Bills would create the Kansas Sports Wagering Act. 
Kentucky BR 155, H 536 Bills would legalize sports betting.
Louisiana H 245, S 266  HB245 would authorize additional games and sports betting at eligible live horse racing facilities.
Maryland S 836, HB 1346

HB 1014

HB 1014 would allow the State Lottery and Gaming Commission to hand out sports wagering licenses. 

The bill also suggests that sports betting be added to the November ballot as a referendum.

Massachusetts S 2273 Bill would regulate online gaming, daily fantasy sports, and online sports betting.
Michigan H 4060, H 4261

H 4926*

Bills would allow sports betting. The first via a referendum. The second would allow parlaying. The third would allow online gambling.

*Passed in Dec. 2018 but vetoed by the governor.

Mississippi H 1113, H 1154 HB1113 would prohibit wagering on athletic events. H 1154 would study tax rates for sports betting.
Missouri H 2320, H 2406

H 2535, S 767

S 1009, S 1013

SB 1009 and S 1013 would authorize sports betting and change the definition of “gambling game” to include sports wagering.
New Jersey A 3911, A 4111*, 

S 2602

*Passed June 2018. 

S 2602 would allow betting at casinos and racetracks on specific professional and collegiate sports or athletic events.

New York A 11144, S 1282

S 7900,

A 5438, A 10322

A 11225

Bills would broaden the legalization of sports betting. The last two would establish a task force on mobile sports betting.
Ohio H 714, S 316 Bills express intent to legalize sports betting.
Oklahoma H 3375, S 1175 Bills would allow sports betting as part of a tribal gaming package; terms linked to “sports pools” removed by amendment.
Rhode Island S 2045, H 8320

H 7200*

*Passed June 2018, this is the state budget proposal.                    
South Carolina H 3102 A joint resolution that would legalize specific gambling and gaming activities.
West Virginia H 2751, S 106

S 415*, H 4396

*Passed March 2018. Bills would legalize sports betting.
U.S. H 783, H 4530 H 783 is the Sports Gaming Opportunity Act of 2017. H4530 is the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement (GAME) Act of 2017.

2017 Legislation

 

California ACA 18 The constitutional amendment would legalize sports betting in the state.
Connecticut H 6948* *Passed in July 2017. Bill would allow state regulators to prepare for legal sports betting should the state and federal laws allow it.  
Hawaii H 927 Bill would form a commission that will study the legalization and regulation of gambling, including sports betting, in Hawaii.
Kentucky B 155 Bill would lay out a framework for legalized sports betting at the state’s racetracks and off-track betting facilities.
Maryland H 989 Bill would seek to create a task force that will examine the MD’s sports gaming implementation to monitor federal law.
Michigan H 4060, H 4261

H 4926

Bills would legalize sports betting. The first is through a referendum, the second would allow parlaying, and the third would allow online betting.
Mississippi H 967* *Passed in March 2017. Bill would allow the state to regulate sports betting, particularly fantasy sports.
New Jersey S 3375 Bill would legalize sports betting pools, also through an addendum to the existing tribal compacts.
New York S 1282

A 5438

Bills would broaden the legalization of sports betting. They would authorize gambling on professional sporting events. 
Pennsylvania H 519

H 271*

Bills would legalize sports betting. The first is a standalone bill, and the second is part of the omnibus gambling expansion package.

*Passed in Oct. 2017, H271 would extensively revise gaming provisions.

South Carolina H 3102 The joint resolution that would legalize sports betting and gambling.
West Virginia H 2751 Bill would legalize sports betting.
U.S. H 783 Also called the Sports Gaming Opportunity Act of 2017, the bill would allow individual states to legalize sports betting.

 

2016 Legislation

 

California A 1441 Bill would amend sections of the Penal Code relating to gambling.
Delaware S 183 Bill would expand the existing Delaware Code relating to lotteries.
New York S 940 Bill would legalize sports betting.
Pennsylvania HR 619 Bill would authorize, license and regulate casino gaming to legalize sports betting through PA’s licensed facilities.

The History Behind U.S. Sports Betting

January 1991

House Bill 74, also known as the PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), was introduced in the House of Representatives. 

Its companion bill, SB 474, was introduced the following February and was supported by former NBA player Sen. Bill Bradley, the NCAA, and major professional sports leagues.

June 1992

The Senate voted 88-5 in favor of passing PASPA. The House of Representatives followed with a voice vote and sent the bill to President George H.W. Bush. Voice votes are usually done after bills receive overwhelming support in the Senate.

October 1992

The U.S. President George Bush signed the PASPA into law.

PASPA said it was unlawful for a state or its state legislature to authorize or license sportsbooks. Oregon, Montana, and Delaware had some forms of sports gambling grandfathered under PASPA, so they were allowed to continue.

February 1993

Mosaic, which later became Netscape, was made available to the public. Soon after, underground bookmaking activities gravitated to the internet. The offshore sports betting industry that was illegally serving U.S. bettors grew.

December 1993

With PASPA in place, Nevada’s regulated sports betting market takes $2 billion in bets for the year.

January 1994

Arizona hosted Oregon in a Pac-10 college basketball game. It later turned out to be the first of four games fixed for Sun Devils’ star guard Stevin Smith for gambling purposes.

August 1996

President Bill Clinton created a commission to study the economic and social impacts of gaming in the U.S. 

The commission introduced the National Gambling Impact Study in 1999. It was also in 1999 when the first online sportsbook to accept bets from U.S. customers opened for business.

February 2001

UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) hosted BYU (Brigham Young University) in college basketball. It was the first UNLV game that Nevada sportsbooks were allowed to accept bets on, ending a four-decade ban on wagering on the state schools.

April 2001

Senator John McCain introduced ASIA (Amateur Sports Integrity Act), a bill that would ban betting on college sports. The bill faced stiff lobbying opposition from the gaming industry and didn’t make it out of committee.

October 2006

The UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was created, targeting online gambling operations. Supported by all the sports leagues, UIGEA included an exemption for fantasy sports.

May 2009

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed legislation allowing sports betting on college and professional sports.

November 2015

The board of directors for the AGA voted to abolish PASPA. Five months later, the AGA created a task force dedicated to sports betting, as the gaming industry stood united behind the movement.

May 2018

The Supreme Court struck down PASPA, legalizing sports betting in all states in the USA.

FAQs

  • Can you place bets on online sports from anywhere in the USA?

Whether or not you’ve registered in person or remotely, mobile sports bets are accepted from most states where sports betting is legal. 

The state can strictly enforce this policy through geofencing technology. Your phone’s location function has to be turned on to place a wager, and the mobile app detects where you’re located.

At present, you can bet on sports online in 11 states, which include Colorado. For a complete list and more details, go to the 11 States Allowing Full Mobile Betting With Multiple Options section of this article

In compliance with regulatory requirements, SportsBetting.com requires our online sports bettors to confirm they’re in a permitted jurisdiction within the state of Colorado. We verify our players’ location using GeoComply.

For more information on using your phone to verify your location, click here.

  • What are sports betting kiosks?

Kiosks are self-service stations, much like ATMs or self-checkouts at grocery stores. Kiosks are designed to make depositing bets and withdrawing winnings more convenient to bettors. In most cases, you can withdraw through the same source that you used for a deposit.

Depositing and withdrawing money from legal online sportsbooks like SportsBetting.com is also simple and hassle-free. 

Using your phone or computer, you can deposit your bets through Visa, Mastercard, Skrill, and ACH (electronic bank-to-bank payment).

When withdrawing your winnings, you can choose the amount you want to withdraw and the payment method you prefer to receive your funds.

If you need help with your account, you can contact our support team 24/7 via live chat or call us at +1 (720) 713-3522.

  • What’s the difference between in-person and remote registration?

Some states that allow mobile sports betting require bettors to show up in person at a retail facility (generally a casino or sportsbook) to show their ID and create a sports betting account.

In other states like Colorado, you can just use your ID and other verification methods online to register and create an account at any state-licensed sportsbook. 

Because SportsBetting.com is live in Colorado, you can register with us online anytime. This saves you a trip, gas money, and time. 

To register online, simply go to Sportsbetting.com and click “Join Now.”

  • Online books vs. retail books: which offers more bets?

It really depends on your choice of a sportsbook. However, it’s easier to make live (in-game) bets using digital technology vs. having to wait in line to ask a teller what bets they offer.

SportsBetting.com offers a huge selection of sports markets that you can bet on any platform. We also provide live bets for those who like the thrill of placing bets throughout a sporting event. 

  • What markets or bet formats are available at U.S. sportsbooks?

Bet types vary from sportsbook to sportsbook. You can make these bets at almost every sportsbook in states where sports betting is legal:

  • Point spreads
  • Moneylines 
  • Under/Overs or totals
  • Props 
  • Futures

At SportsBetting.com, you can also find live, in-game betting options or platforms. You can bet on the following professional sports and leagues:

  • NBA (National Basketball Association)
  • MLB (Major League Baseball)
  • NHL (National Hockey League)
  • NFL (National Football League)/Superbowl
  • UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Europa League 
  • UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship)
  • Boxing
  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Rugby 
  • Motor sports
  • Cricket

Want to know about the different bet types you can make at SportsBetting.com? Click here.

6. How are the odds and prices at online sportsbooks?

Odds and prices at legal online sportsbooks vary from one shop to another. Generally, their prices are competitive with or even better than illegal shops without regulatory responsibilities. For instance, typical spread bets at legal books are -110 on both sides for an NFL game.

Check out our odds boost here. Our boosted odds promotions can give you a better potential payout for the same amount of risk on certain bets.

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