Online Sports Betting

Last updated: Nov. 23, 2021

Legal online sports betting is available in several states, and efforts are underway to make it a reality in a number of others. For states that have already come online, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Illinois, competition has been intense as the industry’s top sportsbooks continue battling for market share.

Virginia sports betting: There are currently no retail sportsbooks in Virginia, but legal online betting launched in January 2021. People in the state can register remotely for each of the eight current options, a list that includes DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars.

Getting started is typically quick and simple, with a straightforward registration process that you can complete online or via mobile device in most locales. Let’s explore the key details that you need to know, starting with where you can legally and safely bet on sports in the US.

Legal US sports betting apps December 2021

RANK
OPERATOR
BONUS
INFO
ACTION
1
UP TO $1,050 FREE
New User Bonus. T&Cs Apply.
Special for NFL, NBA, CFB, CBB & UFC 269
Bet $1 & Win $100
$50 Free Bet on Deposit
Up to $1,000 Deposit Bonus
To Claim: Click Bet Now
3
$1,001
First Bet Match
Up To $1,001 First Bet Match
Opt In for a Free NBA Jersey
Weekly Betting Promos
Use Promo Code: LEGALRF
4
$250 Bonus
100% Match On First Deposit
100% Up to $250 Deposit Bonus
ONLY 1x Play Through!
Use Exclusive Bonus Code: PLAY250 
6
$500
Risk Free Bet
Exclusive Offer
$500 Risk Free Bet
Use Promo Code: BETBONUS

Is online sports betting legal in the US?

Yes, in some places. Online sports betting has been legalized in a number of states to date, and the list is expected to continue growing in the coming years. In 2018, the Supreme Court placed the matter of legalizing sports betting into the hands of the individual states to decide on. While sports betting has since been legalized in a number of states, legislation hasn’t been passed on a federal level.

Best sports betting apps in the US

Below, you’ll see details on all of the top online sports betting apps available for legal betting in the US. App availability will vary by state as some have more than 20 options, while others may have as few as one or two.

Online sports betting in Virginia launched in January 2021. You cannot bet on in-state college teams, but there’s an exception for tournaments in which other schools are participating. The top sportsbooks in NJ include BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars.

The list of mobile sports betting options continues to grow. Here are some of the top options available in multiple states.

DraftKings app

The daily fantasy sports giant was among the many operators awaiting the Supreme Court ruling in 2018. The company was the first online and mobile option available in NJ. DraftKings has since expanded to a number of other states, with plans for further expansion in the works. The DraftKings Sportsbook app is known for having a slick platform and live betting feature.

Review: DraftKings Sportsbook

FanDuel app

FanDuel Sportsbook first made its debut in New Jersey in 2018. It has since grown to become the most popular option for sports bettors in a number of legal states. The FanDuel app is among the smoothest and most user-friendly options in the industry with top highlights including its innovative same-game parlay feature.

Review: FanDuel Sportsbook

FOX Bet app

Launched as a tag-team effort from media giant FOX Sports and The Stars Group, the platform receives great visibility throughout FOX Sports programming and has a steady stream of promotions tied in with network personalities. FOX Bet is somewhat geared toward newer bettors and is working toward launching in additional states.

Review: FOX Bet Sportsbook

BetMGM app

BetMGM has evolved into a market leader in a number of legal states. A strong marketing push has helped the company gain traction, as have several strategic marketing arrangements. Top highlights at BetMGM include a very deep bench of sports available for betting.

Review: BetMGM Sportsbook

PointsBet app

Australia-based PointsBet debuted in NJ in 2019 and has since opened its doors in other states. The site is geared toward sports bettors and features a unique betting option known as PointsBetting. The company captured a good deal of attention with its recent deal with NBC Sports and continues to aggressively pursue market share.

Review: PointsBet Sportsbook

Caesars app

The presence of Caesars Sportsbook has grown tremendously in the wake of the closing of the acquisition of William Hill’s US assets. Now available in nine states with more on the way, there’s a ton of experience behind the scenes. The result is a very solid mobile experience for sports bettors and competitive odds and lines.

Review: Caesars Sportsbook

BetRivers app

BetRivers comes our way from Rush Street Gaming, which is also the parent company of sister site PlaySugarhouse. The company also has a retail casino presence in several states. BetRivers has come to be known for having a solid offering and good loyalty program.

Review: BetRivers Sportsbook

Where can I place a legal online sports bet?

The list of legal online sports betting states continues to grow. Currently, it’s up to 21 states and Washington, DC, but the official launch is still pending in some spots.

Arizona sports betting

Arizona legalized sports betting in April 2021 after months of maneuvering in the state legislature and public statements of support from Gov. Doug Ducey. The subsequent launch in September 2021 featured the arrival of both retail and online sportsbooks in the Grand Canyon State. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars were among the first sportsbook operators to open for business in Arizona.

Read more: Arizona sports betting apps

Colorado sports betting

Legal sports betting was approved by voters in Colorado in 2019. The official online and mobile rollout took place on May 1, 2020, with DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers and BetMGM all going live on the same day. Several other operators have since gone live in the state.

Read more: Colorado sports betting apps

Connecticut sports betting

Legal online sports betting is available in Connecticut. The launch took place in October 2021 with DraftKings, FanDuel, and PlaySugarhouse available for bettors right away. The new gaming compact with the state’s tribes allows for retail betting and online sportsbooks in the state. The Gaming Division of the Department of Consumer Protection oversees the new market once it launches.

Read more: Connecticut sports betting

Florida sports betting

In April 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping 30-year compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that set the framework of sports betting in Florida. It was approved by the state Legislature in May and signed shortly thereafter. The first online sportsbook (Hard Rock Sportsbook) launched in November 2021, but legal hurdles remain for the industry.

Read more: Florida sports betting

Illinois sports betting

Legislation was also passed in Illinois in 2019 with the official launch taking place in March 2020. Initially, only retail betting was allowed, with in-person registration required for online and mobile players. That provision was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic but has since been reinstated. DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, and BetRivers are among the available options.

Read more: Illinois sports betting apps

Indiana sports betting sites

Sports betting was legalized in Indiana in 2019. The rollout happened quickly, with retail options opening up in September of that year, followed by online and mobile launch in October. DraftKings and BetRivers were the first online sports betting sites available, followed by FanDuel a month later. The list of available options continues to grow.

Read more: Indiana sports betting apps

Iowa sports betting

Iowa was also among the states that both legalized and went live with sports betting in 2019. Legislation was passed in May, with the retail and mobile launch coming in August. As of January 2021, online and mobile users can register on a sportsbook app from anywhere in the state since the in-person requirement ended on Dec. 31, 2020. DraftKings, PointsBet and Caesars are among the operators that are live in Iowa.

Read more: Iowa sports betting apps

Michigan sports betting

Sports betting was signed into law in December 2019 in Michigan. Retail sportsbooks opened up in March 2020 and mobile sportsbook apps became legal for sports betting in Michigan in January 2021. There are close to a dozen mobile sportsbook options available in Michigan.

Read more: Michigan sports betting apps

Nevada sports betting

Nevada’s days as the only option for legal US sports betting are over. Not much has changed for the state since the SCOTUS ruling. While more known for in-person wagering at casinos throughout Las Vegas such as Westgate and Caesars, the state also has online and mobile options available from operators like BetMGM.

Read more: Nevada sports betting apps

New Hampshire sports betting

Sports betting officially debuted in New Hampshire in December 2019 after being approved by the state Legislature earlier in the year. The approval covered both retail and mobile, but the situation is unique in NH. DraftKings is the exclusive provider of online and mobile wagering in the state and also the operator of the lone retail shops.

Read more: New Hampshire betting app

New Jersey sports betting

The Garden State was one of the first to act after the landmark Supreme Court ruling. Retail sports betting rolled out in June 2018. DraftKings was the first online option in August, followed by PlaySugarhouse and FanDuel. There are now nearly two dozen NJ sports betting apps on the market.

Read more: NJ sports betting apps

Pennsylvania sports betting

Pennsylvania was among the states that moved quickly in the wake of the PASPA ruling. Retail sportsbooks opened for business in November 2018. The official launch of online sportsbooks took place in May 2019. SugarHouse was the first mobile sportsbook to go live, and it was soon joined by sister property BetRivers and others including DraftKings and FanDuel.

Read more: Pennsylvania sports betting apps

Tennessee sports betting

Tennessee approved sports betting in April 2019. It’s a unique situation as there are not expected to be any retail sportsbooks in the state. Sports bettors are now able to place mobile wagers as of November 2020 with only a handful of online sportsbooks available to choose from.

Read more: TN sports betting apps

Virginia sports betting

Sports betting was legalized in Virginia in April 2020 and officially launched its first sportsbook in January 2021. According to state law, there will be a minimum of four and as many as 12 mobile sportsbook options available.

Read more: VA sports betting apps

Washington, DC, sports betting

The city council gave its approval to sports betting in 2018, but the bill wasn’t signed into law until the following January. GambetDC, an offering run by the lottery and powered by Intralot, is the sole online and mobile option for bettors in the District since its launch in 2020. The Caesars Sportsbook app is only available in a geofenced area around Capital One Arena.

Read more: DC Sports Betting

West Virginia sports betting

West Virginia also sprang into action following the Supreme Court ruling. Retail sportsbooks opened up in September 2018. BetLucky was available for a short time as a mobile option, but it shut down the following year due to a technology dispute. DraftKings and FanDuel went live in WV soon thereafter and have since been joined by other operators.

Read more: WV sports betting apps

Wyoming sports betting

Wyoming became the first state to legalize mobile sports betting in April 2021, launching its first sportsbook app a few months later in September 2021. The market features an online-only model that is anticipated to attract multiple well-known sportsbook operators to the state.

Read more: Wyoming sports betting apps

Upcoming legal online sports betting states

Louisiana sports betting

Voters decided in November 2020 to approve Louisiana sports betting, but not in every parish. When the state launches online sports betting, 55 of the 64 parishes will allow online betting apps. The official launch date has not been set, but the hope is that legal online sports betting will be up and running during the NFL season in 2021.

Read more: Louisiana sports betting

Maryland sports betting

Just like in Louisiana, Maryland voters passed a referendum in November 2020, authorizing sports betting in the state. The state Legislature followed through and officially legalized retail and online betting in 2021. The application process for operators is underway and is expected to be very competitive. Legal online sports betting is expected to launch towards the end of 2021 or in early 2022.

Read more: Maryland sports betting

New York sports betting

New York began its legal sports betting status in 2019 with retail shops at its commercial and tribal casinos. In April 2021, Gov. Andrew Cuomo added an online sports betting piece to the state budget, which passed both houses. Once launched, there will be at least four different sportsbook apps in New York, but the exact operators have yet to be determined.

Read more: NY sports betting

States with limitations

There’s another group of states which also have online sports betting, albeit with very limited options for users. While many of the legal markets have opted for a competitive multi-operator approach, others have settled on a single option or two to control the marketplace. Here are the details on those states.

  • Rhode Island: Online sports betting is controlled by the Rhode Island lottery and powered by a William Hill/IGT platform.
  • Oregon: The Oregon Lottery is in charge of all sports betting in the state with the Scoreboard app the lone mobile option.
  • New Hampshire: Sports betting is overseen by the New Hampshire Lottery, which has partnered up with DraftKings for mobile betting.
  • Delaware: While sports betting is legal in Delaware, all wagering must take place at one of the state’s three casinos.
  • Mississippi: Retail sports betting is the only legal option for now, while efforts to expand to online haven’t advanced.
  • Montana: In order to legally place bets in Montana, users have to be located within the geofenced footprint of an approved retail outlet.
  • South Dakota: Betting is currently limited to in-person wagering at casinos located in the town of Deadwood.

Events to bet on

One of the convenient things about sports betting is that there are plenty of choices to consider. You can shop around for your favorite places to play, and focus on one or more bets that work for your approach, for example. The same applies to what you’re wagering on. From the most popular games and leagues to those that fly under the radar, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a look at some of the most popular sports to bet on.

  • NFL betting: The NFL is the most popular sport for betting in the US. Betting on the Super Bowl is the biggest annual single-day event for sportsbooks, and they go all-out with hundreds of prop bets for bettors to consider.
  • NBA: The NBA has firmly settled in as the second-most popular choice at sportsbooks in terms of overall volume. During the postseason and NBA Finals, each contest draws even more interest and wagers.
  • MLB: The days of MLB being the most popular sport in America are in the past, but it still has a tremendous following. Interest will be high around Opening Day, and again during the MLB playoffs and World Series.
  • NHL: While the NHL trails the big three in terms of overall attention, this is still a sport with an incredibly loyal and passionate following. Once the Stanley Cup playoffs roll around, there’s a surge that continues until a champion is crowned.
  • College basketball: Many seasoned handicappers shift their attention here after football season has wrapped up. Regular-season college basketball is popular, but the sport really takes over the spotlight with one of the year’s signature betting events – March Madness gets even the most casual fans off the sidelines.
  • College football: For the fall and winter months, it’s football that controls the conversation in the world of American sports. While college football isn’t quite on the level of the NFL in terms of overall popularity, there are games on the docket where the volume is comparable to its pro counterpart. That’s especially true for bowl season and the College Football Playoff.

How to bet on sports online

While signing up to play in legal states isn’t tricky, what to do from there can lead to plenty of questions. The good news is that the learning curve for betting on sports is beatable. We have a number of dedicated resource pages that provide detailed information on all of the basics.

  • Sports betting odds: Sports betting and numbers go hand-in-hand. One of the most important areas for those new to the game to understand is the odds. After you gain a little seasoning, you’ll be able to understand the most likely outcome, the potential return for winning bets, and which side the public is backing just by studying the odds.
  • Moneyline: This is a basic bet and a great starting point for beginners as a result. When betting on the moneyline, you simply have to choose which side you think will win. There will be odds on both sides: negative numbers for favorites and positive for underdogs.
  • Parlays: A parlay is a bet for which you combine two or more outcomes on a single slip. There’s an opportunity for great returns, but you must be right on all selections to have a winning ticket so your odds are longer. On a monthly basis, one of the biggest sources of hold for sportsbooks comes via parlay wagers.
  • Spread: In a nutshell, the point spread attempts to level the playing field between two teams. It’s like a margin of victory that you must account for in your wagers. Point spread betting takes place on many sports, but it might go by different names such as run line betting for MLB or puck line betting in the NHL.
  • Totals: This bet is also commonly referred to as an over/under and is a wager on the total combined score of a game. Oddsmakers will set a benchmark number, and bettors then wager on whether the actual score will be over or under that amount. The odds on both sides can move in response to betting action.
  • Props: A prop bet can revolve around team or player performance during a game, or on the contest as a whole. A prop is basically a side bet on something that might or might not happen. Prop bets on player performance share a lot in common with fantasy sports. They’ve become a natural starting point for many new bettors as a result.
  • Teaser: The teaser bet lets you move the point spread on two or more games. You can shift the lines in your favor, making the bet easier to win but also lowering your potential payout.

Legal vs. offshore betting

The best options available for US sports bettors come via the sites that have been approved for operations in the respective states. Gaining acceptance and approval is not easy, and those who have joined the list of approved operators have invested heavily to do so.

While there remains an active black market for sports betting via illegal offshore sites, there’s no reason to take the risk. Here are some of the main points to understand.

  • The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006 to crack down on offshore operators. The law is aimed at the companies to prevent them from doing business in the US, but many still operate due to what they claim is a legal gray area.
  • Offshore operators are not operating under the same rules and regulations that legal US betting sites are. There is no guarantee that your funds, data or information will be safely kept.
  • Legal sports betting sites have clear terms and conditions, house rules for players to follow, a wide range of normal funding options and customer service options that can be reached easily. That’s not the case with offshore sites.

Things you can’t legally bet on in the US

Each of the individual states sets its own rules and regulations for sports betting. While there’s not complete uniformity among all of the markets, what is or isn’t allowed is one area of common ground. You won’t be able to bet on the following at legal US online sportsbooks.

  • High schools sports
  • Sports involving athletes under 18 years of age
  • US elections – local, state, presidential, etc.
  • Weather events
  • Reality TV outcomes
  • Oscars and other award shows

For the last item on the list, Oscar betting has been offered in a few markets to date, but sports betting is technically supposed to revolve around actual sporting events in the legal markets. The line gets a little blurry for the Super Bowl, as off the field props such as the result of the coin flip are permitted.

Another area to pay close attention to is how wagering on college sports is handled. While it’s permitted in all of the legal states, there are some restrictions in place. For example, bettors in New Jersey aren’t allowed to wager on in-state programs or events, but neighboring Pennsylvania has no such restrictions in place.

Other states, such as Colorado, allow pregame wagering on college football and basketball, but player props on those games are prohibited. For a detailed look at what is or isn’t permitted in the individual markets, our complete state guides have additional insight.

Why can’t you bet on the election or weather?

While there is often chatter about the betting odds for major political events such as the US presidential election, it remains illegal to bet on the outcome of that. There may be plenty of history attached to betting on who will be the next president, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal.

Legal and regulated operators offer odds and markets on sporting events. You won’t find options to bet on the weather or reality TV at the big shops, and there’s a simple reason for that: They’re not allowed to.

How online sports betting in USA became legal

Challenge in New Jersey

New Jersey voters passed a non-binding referendum in November 2011 that instructed the state legislature to legalize sports betting.  The legislature quickly passed a bill that would have regulated sports betting at New Jersey racetracks and Atlantic City casinos. Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill into law.

The major sports leagues challenged New Jersey in court, claiming that the state was not exempted by PASPA; therefore, it could not legalize sports betting. A lower court ruling sided with the leagues, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed it. The US Supreme Court at that time refused to hear the case.

New Jersey tried another angle. The state attempted to deregulate and decriminalize sports betting in the same venues as before. The sports leagues returned to court and challenged the new approach to sports betting.  The sports leagues prevailed in the lower court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

New Jersey was able to appeal and receive a rehearing in the Third Circuit, which it also lost. The Supreme Court then agreed to hear it and New Jersey won its case in May 2018.

American Gaming Association’s stance

The American Gaming Association is the gaming industry’s lobbying group. It maintains the black market of illegal gambling is too lucrative and thrives in an unregulated environment.  The AGA supported the repeal of PASPA and strongly advocates for states to be able to write their own sports betting laws.

Daily fantasy sports vs. sports betting

Daily fantasy sports is believed to be legal in at least 40 states, according to the companies that promote the product.

There are big differences between daily fantasy sports and sports betting.

In sports betting, a bettor picks a team or multiple teams to win or cover a point spread. In daily fantasy sports, a user chooses athletes and enters a competition that computes a winner based on the statistics accumulated by the players in a sport.

FAQ for betting sites

Is it legal to bet on sports online?

Yes, but it depends on where you are located. Legal sports betting can be done online in many of the states mentioned above. You do not have to be a resident of a state to bet there, but you do need to be physically located within the state to place a legal online sports bet.

Is sports betting legal in Europe?

Online sports betting is legal throughout most of Europe including the UK. This includes betting shops, mobile apps, and over the Internet. Some of the best online betting sites in Europe are now operating in the US.

What is the safest betting site?

The safest options for sports betting online come via the legal and regulated operators. DraftKings and FanDuel are two examples of operators that have received approval to open for business in a number of states. Legal and regulated sites have to go through a lengthy application process, follow specific rules and regulations, and verify that customer funds are safe. That’s not the case with the unregulated options that may be available.

Why do some online sportsbooks accept cryptocurrency?

At legal online sportsbooks, cryptocurrencies aren’t on the list of approved funding options. The lone exception to the rule is in Wyoming, a state which recently legalized online sports betting and has noted that cryptos are permitted for payment. Moving forward, we could see this become an option in other legal states. For now, cryptocurrency options are most commonly found on illegal and unregulated sites.

Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?

Yes, profits obtained from sports betting or any other type of gambling are considered taxable income in the US. If you win above a certain level, operators may even provide you with a 1099-G that states your level of winnings, and the form will be filed with the IRS, as well. Complete tracking of the deposits and withdrawals you have made for gambling purposes is a good habit to get into. For specific questions in regard to your personal situation, we encourage you to consult with a tax advisor.

Is Bovada a legal US sportsbook?

No. Bovada is an unlicensed sports betting site. It is illegal for the company to operate in the US but players likely face no legal consequences.

Privacy Policy