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Legal Sports Report

Here’s Where Sports Betting Is Legal As The 2019 NFL Season Kicks Off

NFL

The calendar might try to tell you that it’s early September, but it looks an awful lot like Christmas for NFL bettors in the US.

NCAA and professional football have arrived, kicking off the annual busy season for sportsbooks. And in 2019, there are more of them writing tickets in the US than ever before, many for NFL betting.

About 21.5% of the country’s gambling population now has access to legal sports betting in their home state.

US sports betting, at a glance

Sportsbooks operate in accordance with the law in 13 US states, up from just five a year ago. Here are the states with online and mobile US sports betting:

* requires in-person registration

The states with in-person sports betting:

Which sites are regulated in your state?

It’s not just remote registration that’s pushed New Jersey ahead of Nevada. Well-conceived provisions for multiple skins have drawn more than 15 NJ sports betting apps to the market, some of which are world-class products.

Here are the US sports betting operators active (or soon to be active) for NFL football across multiple states:

Nevada, of course, was the only state with single-game sports betting for several decades preceding the nationwide expansion that began in 2018.

Look how the map has changed in the 16 months since the fall of PASPA:

Thanks, SCOTUS.

Which states started legal sports betting in 2019?

Last year’s growth brought Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey and West Virginia into the fold, and the early-adopting quintet has since expanded into a full orchestra. Eight more players joined the stage in time for the 2019-20 NFL season:

  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island

Betting options vary from state to state, ranging from just one sportsbook in Arkansas to a couple dozen in the denser markets of the East and Midwest. There are some state-specific restrictions to be aware of too, including local collegiate betting bans in New Jersey and New York.

And, as you know, not every state allows betting everywhere.

Which states allow online sports betting?

Lawmakers generally showed a better awareness of the importance of online/mobile betting in 2019, with most of the youngest laws including full provisions. Still, barely half of the states with legal industries accept bets remotely today.

In-person registration represents one of the few sour points in some of those regulatory structures. While bettors in those asterisked states can wager anywhere within their borders, initial account setup requires a visit to the casino that corresponds to a given app.

Perhaps 2020 will be the year lawmakers begin to understand the benefits of remote registration. The ability of bettors to create accounts without leaving their couch is a big reason the New Jersey market has already stolen Nevada’s crown.

Which states will have legal sports betting next?

The list of green states still has some room to grow this year. Five other states have laws in place pending launch, including one of the biggest sports markets in the country.

  • Illinois
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee

Each is working on its timeline, with Montana apparently the closest to the launchpad. As for mighty Illinois, the first of the year looks like the most optimistic scenario at the moment.

The District of Columbia is also plodding toward launch under a controversial law passed in late 2018. Whether that happens before the Super Bowl looks like a pick’em at best, especially considering the recent call for a third-party investigation into the sole-sourced Intralot contract.

Elsewhere …

Puerto Rico legalized sports betting earlier this year, too, including the country’s first “islandwide mobile” provisions in its law. While sometimes overlooked in the conversation, the territory’s population of more than 3 million residents makes its prospective market about the same size as Iowa’s.

Maine and Colorado are additionally in contention to pass sports betting bills in 2019 after some good work earlier in the year. The one in Maine is just waiting for a decision from the governor, while the proposed referendum in Colorado is subject to voter approval this November.

Lawmakers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio also intend to continue their work on sports betting legislation this fall.

US sports betting resources

Here are a few pages worth bookmarking if you’re interested in monitoring the legislation, regulation and operation of US sports betting:

If you’re a bettor looking for content focused on the actual activity of wagering, you might also enjoy our sister site The Lines.

Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.
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