A Big Year For Legal US Sports Betting: A Rundown Of Legalization, Launches In 2021

Posted on December 31, 2021
Written By on December 31, 2021

The past year included a massive expansion of legalized sports betting in the US.

Heading into 2021, 20 states and Washington, D.C., were legal US sports betting markets. Now, at the dawn of 2022, there are sportsbooks in 30 states and DC open for sports bets.

Beyond those newly operating markets, several more are on the horizon in 2022 — both just waiting to launch and those nearing legalization.

States that legalized sports betting in 2021

Most of the states that launched in 2021 just crossed the finish line. Others were able to get the nod of approval, at least temporarily, during the calendar year.

Getting the work done

Voters in Louisiana, Maryland and South Dakota all approved sports betting at the ballot in November 2020. Legislators enacted the wishes of their voters in the spring of 2021.

Retail sports betting in South Dakota launched at casinos in the resort town of Deadwood in September.

Louisiana sports betting started with retail sportsbooks on Oct. 31, 2021, while mobile will likely launch in early 2022. Maryland sports betting began at several retail sportsbooks in December 2021, with online sports betting unlikely to start until late 2022.

Florida legalized, for a bit

In May 2021, lawmakers worked in a special session to pass Florida sports betting legislation as part of a new compact with the Seminole Tribe. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the compact later that month.

Despite several legal challenges, the Hard Rock sportsbook app run by the Seminole Tribe launched Nov. 1, 2021. The Hard Rock app eventually was pulled in early December as court rulings mounted against the Seminole Tribe.

While the Seminole Tribe appeals the rulings, FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook are working to secure signatures needed to put sports betting on the 2022 ballot.

States that launched sports betting

While Ohio regulators are cleared to work toward its launch now and Florida stakeholders work through a complicated situation, ten states did cross the finish line in 2021.

Online sports betting in Virginia and Michigan sportsbook apps launched in January 2021; Michigan already had retail sportsbooks. Additionally, retail sportsbooks opened at tribal casinos to offer North Carolina sports betting, Washington sports betting and Wisconsin sports betting.

Here’s the full list of markets launched sports betting in 2021:

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan (online sports betting joined retail that launched in 2020)
  • North Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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