Legal Sports Report evaluates online sports betting options in the US, and in this comprehensive guide, we look at legal sportsbooks using a variety of metrics, including payout speeds, user experience, betting options, and customer service. 

LSR also provides information about each top sportsbook, including app ratings, key features, and the states where the sportsbook is available.

Rank
Sportsbook
Bonus
Features
Play
1
$1,000 FIRST BET
On Caesars
Up to $1,000 Bonus Bet if Your Bet Loses
Stream NFL Games In-App for Free
21+ Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
Use Promo Code: LSR1000
2
UP TO $1,000
In Bonus Bets
First Bet Safety Net up to $1,000, or 
Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets
Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler 21+
Use Bonus Code: LSRNJ
3
up to $1,500
In Bonus Bets if Your First Bet Doesn’t Win*
*Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Add’l terms
21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER 
Use Bonus Code: PLAYLSR
5
Bet $5
Get $150
Win or Lose
Bet $5 Get $150 in Bonus Bets Win or Lose
Available on Desktop, Android & iOS
To Claim: Click Play Now
6
UP TO $250 BACK
In Bonus Bets
First Bet Reset up to $250 Back in Bonus Bets if Your First Bet Loses
Get Betway Boosts & Enhanced Odds
To Claim: Click Play Now

Contents


Yes, sports betting is legal in parts of the US, but not all of it. To date, you can bet online legally and safely in 30 states plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. The latest state to join that list was North Carolina on March 11. There’s also a group of eight states that have legalized sports betting in some form, albeit with some limitations. Further down this page, you’ll find complete details on states and current status.

Top 10 sportsbooks in the US

Online sportsbook availability varies by state. Some states have more than 20 options, others may have as few as one or two, and some do not allow sports betting at all.

The list of online sports betting options continues to grow. Here are the best betting sites in the US today:

  1. Caesars Sportsbook
  2. Bet365 Sportsbook
  3. BetMGM Sportsbook
  4. BetRivers Sportsbook
  5. FanDuel Sportsbook
  6. DraftKings Sportsbook
  7. ESPN Bet Sportsbook
  8. Fanatics Sportsbook
  9. Hard Rock Bet Sportsbook
  10. Betway Sportsbook

Caesars Sportsbook app

Caesars Sportsbook has rapidly expanded and now stands as one of the nation’s top sportsbooks. The Caesars Rewards program is one of the best programs across all sportsbooks, with points that can be redeemed for free $5 bets or saved over time for things like show tickets and experiences at a Caesars resort. Caesars also provides more odds boosts than many competitors. The daily promos are on par with competitors like DraftKings and FanDuel. Most Caesars promos are tied to parlays, and the app often bombards you with pre-packaged parlays upon login. Still, the user interface is clean and intuitive, making it one of the best user experiences of any sportsbook.

Caesars Sportsbook standout feature — welcome bonus

The Caesars Sportsbook welcome bonus for new users gives you a refund if your first bet loses when you sign up with the promo code LSR1000. This means that if your first bet at the sportsbook is unsuccessful, Caesars will refund the amount of the wager to your account in the form of a single bonus bet. The refund is good for any first bet amount up to $1,000. You can then use that bonus bet to place another wager at Caesars. If that second bet wins, the winnings are yours to do with as you wish. This is one of the simplest welcome bonuses of any online sportsbook, and also among those with the highest functional limit.

Caesars standout betting options

In addition to the usual major sports, Caesars offers an extensive array of international soccer options, including competative UEFA Euro odds, with tons of Euro betting options. They also future bets on the 2024 Olympic Games. The boxing section is also one of the more complete offerings of the sport at any online sportsbook, with odds available weeks and sometimes months ahead of time. For sports like golf, Caesars prominently features a leaderboard updated in real time, as well as “quick pick” parlay options highlighted during events like college basketball tournaments.

Caesars customer service

Caesars has a live chat function under the support section on its website. You can also reach out via phone at 855-474-0606.

The chatbot at Caesars is very convenient, but sometimes “didn’t understand” queries that it should when we tested it. Caesars is also our highest-rated app for fastest paying sportsbooks.

DraftKings Sportsbook app

DraftKings Sportsbook is one of the most popular online sportsbooks in the US, alongside rival FanDuel. DraftKings was one of the nation’s first sportsbooks and has stayed at the forefront of innovation since, with robust in-game betting options and same-game parlays that are easy to navigate. The look and feel of the DraftKings app and desktop site is an excellent blend of smooth navigation with a wealth of options. The odds are consistently some of the most competitive anywhere, and DraftKings also offers more promos that aren’t tied to parlays than any other sportsbook.

DraftKings Sportsbook standout feature — futures markets, early odds release

DraftKings is always one of the first to post odds on upcoming events. Especially with major sports like the NFL, DraftKings will typically post point spreads and moneylines months in advance as soon as the schedule is available. Other sportsbooks like FanDuel and BetMGM have rarely looked past the first few weeks of the season at the outset. DraftKings also has a robust futures market, with multiple ways to bet on broad future outcomes long before play has even begun in a variety of sports.

DraftKings standout betting options

DraftKings offers odds on all the major sports, plus obscure ones like cricket, snooker, rugby, and handball. One place DraftKings really stands out is UFC wagering options. As UFC’s gambling partner, DraftKings has moneyline odds on every fight, including the prelims. DraftKings also has a vast array of prop bets for UFC fights that are difficult to find at other sportsbooks.

DraftKings customer service

The DraftKings help center has a 24/7 chat feature to answer questions anytime. There are also extensive links for emailed questions, tax documents and more, all on the help center page.

DraftKings outscored all of its rivals in extensive customer service testing we did in Ohio.

FanDuel Sportsbook app

FanDuel Sportsbook has become well-known and highly visible in almost every state where it is currently operating. The look of the app is clean and uncluttered, with sections up top highlighting promos, boosts, and live sports in progress. The recurring promos and boosts for existing users aren’t as numerous on FanDuel as on some competitors, but the brand has always had a jump on its competitors in the realm of same-game parlays. FanDuel also offers welcome deals that aren’t tied to gambling, such as discounts on streaming services like Max as part of its sign-up offers.

FanDuel Sportsbook standout feature — parlay and same-game parlay options

FanDuel makes it easy to find parlay options with the “parlay hub” tab. Clicking that brings you to a page where you can choose among different parlays and same-game parlays for multiple sports. There’s also a subsection on the parlay hub for the events that will start next, allowing you to sort by upcoming competitions.

FanDuel standout betting options

FanDuel does well to include women’s sports with prominence along with the traditional major sports. FanDuel also offers creative markets like NHL-wide home and away goals, or daily specials on the number of goals scored in each period of every game league-wide.

FanDuel customer service

FanDuel’s 24/7 chat bot yields better answers than its competitors, though we have also had delays with it too. You can find that feature along with a customer support email address, FAQ section, and social media links each feature on the contact page.

BetMGM Sportsbook app

BetMGM Sportsbook was founded in 2018 and launched its mobile sportsbook app in 2020. In terms of overall availability, it’s just behind options like FanDuel and DraftKings. The website design can sometimes be a little clunky, with some features occasionally covered up by others, but the app is smoother to use. The odds for most sports are competitive with other top sportsbooks, and BetMGM does a creative job of packaging boosts and promotions in eye-catching ways to set them apart from each other.

BetMGM Sportsbook standout feature — edit my bet

BetMGM’s “edit my bet” feature allows you to alter parlays that are already in progress. When the cash-out option appears, you can add or remove legs of a parlay, or even increase the stakes. This kind of functionality isn’t available on most other sportsbook apps, and it has the advantage of helping you feel like you still have options and decisions to make even after action on your parlays has begun.

BetMGM standout betting options

BetMGM has all the major sports and a good variety of individual games in sports like college basketball, where BetMGM lets you choose from a range of winning point margins. The sportsbook also offers international options that many other sportsbooks miss, such as Gaelic games, as well as niche sports like curling and cross-country skiing.

BetMGM customer service

BetMGM has live chat help available 24/7 on its contact page. There’s also an option for less pressing inquiries and a list of phone numbers depending on the state and the nature of the issue.

We have had poor experiences with live customer service agents on chats occasionally, though the help functions are easy to navigate.

Bet365 Sportsbook app

One of the world’s largest sportsbooks and sports betting sites, bet365 has focused on expanding in the US and is now available in more than half a dozen states. The app highlights daily odds boosts and super boosts, making those a large part of its appeal to users. The platform is simple and easy to use, even for beginners, with a wide array of sports that reflect the book’s international appeal. There are also plenty of live betting options, with the ability to stream some sports via the app.

Bet365 Sportsbook standout feature — large soccer selection

As a sportsbook that launched in the UK, bet365 can be an especially appealing book for betting action on international events like soccer. Virtually every soccer league and tournament is covered on bet365, from the Champions League to the Africa Cup, with odds on qualifying matches all the way through the final rounds. Bet365 is also a leader when it comes to options for betting on the Copa America. The sportsbook also offers frequent soccer parlay boosts, as well as early payout options.

Bet365 standout betting options

While the overseas flair is evident in offerings on sports like cricket, rugby, snooker, and table tennis to complement the major American leagues, bet365 also has one of the widest selections of motorsports available for betting. This includes major options like Formula One, where bet365 offers boosts even for qualifiers. It also includes NASCAR, as well as motorcycle races, rally cars, and supercars.

Bet365 customer service

Bet365 has a 24/7 live chat feature on the sportsbook. You can also reach out via email or by phone at 888-823-8365.

While slow to respond to email queries, we find the toll-free helpline to be very effective.

BetRivers Sportsbook app

BetRivers is a sportsbook with a smaller overall market at 4.4%, but they have a robust menu of sports and betting options. The app does a good job of highlighting offers and promos, but the layout can also feel busy and a bit overwhelming. The scrolling list of winners in the sidebar feels like it’s meant to create a sense of a successful community of bettors, but it’s mostly distracting. On the plus side, the BetRivers menu offers both a prop central and a house specials section that can be useful for highlighting interesting betting options.

BetRivers Sportsbook standout feature — strong rewards program

The BetRivers iRush Rewards program is one of the better programs out there for incentivizing and maintaining customer loyalty. Every real money wager at BetRivers earns points toward things like special offers and profit multipliers, plus exclusive events and gifts. Rewards points can also be used with the BetRivers Online Casino, which is available only in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia.

BetRivers standout betting options

In addition to the usual offerings, BetRivers is also one of the few sportsbooks to offer esports odds. Bettors can wager on leagues for Call of Duty and League of Legends, with both moneyline and handicap odds. BetRivers also offers a ton of tennis betting options, with odds on everything from tournament and match winners to individual points and serves.

BetRivers customer service

BetRivers has a live chat feature, though at last check, it was not available 24/7. You can also reach out via email, though BetRivers replies to those in the order it receives them, so responses take longer during especially busy times.

ESPN Bet Sportsbook app

ESPN Bet is a recent entrant in the online sports betting market, debuting in November 2023 after years of rumors and reports that its arrival was imminent. It finally came to fruition via a deal with Penn Entertainment, and now ESPN Bet is live in 17 states and appears likely to enter new markets in the future. The brand name is obviously well-known in the sports world, and the app leans into that with features like the “in the news,” with special bets tied to newsworthy topics in the sports world. ESPN Bet also prioritizes live events, helping the app feel abuzz with sports action as it’s happening.

ESPN Bet Sportsbook standout feature — welcome bonuses and daily promos

As one of the newest players in the space, ESPN Bet highlights a wide range of offers for new and existing users that incorporate the well-known broadcast brand. That includes specials named after on-air talent, as well “primetime” boosts during NFL season. Overall, it’s currently one of the more aggressive sportsbooks in terms of available bonuses.

ESPN Bet standout betting options

ESPN Bet does a good job breaking the major sports down into separate tabs for special events, such as March Madness, the MLB Seoul Series, or specific pro tennis tournaments. The book also offers some esports options unavailable on most other sportsbooks, such as ESL Pro League.

ESPN Bet customer service

ESPN Bet offers customer support via email and also via a 24/7 live chat system on the sportsbook itself. You can also reach out via Twitter @ESPNBetsupport, though response times there are delayed.

Fanatics Sportsbook app

Fanatics Sportsbook is a betting venture from the sports apparel and merchandise company. It began taking steps to join the sports betting landscape in 2022, ultimately acquiring the US operations of PointsBet to accelerate its growth. Now available in 11 states with more on the way, Fanatics is still working on improving the platform’s usability. One major difference between Fanatics and most competitors is that it is only available via its app — not as a website.

Fanatics Sportsbook standout feature — Fancash promos for earning rewards

One benefit of Fanatics being the rare sportsbook that’s also a well-known apparel company is that it can offer rewards in multiple ways. The FanCash program lets bettors earn points with every real money wager they make at the sportsbook. Customers can then redeem these points either as bonus bets or as merchandise and apparel through the extensive Fanatics store. The system is actually quite generous compared with many other rewards programs, and there are more options for how to use it.

Fanatics standout betting options

Fanatics offers all the major sports, plus some more obscure offerings, including a range of motorsports, as well as tennis, golf, and Australian rules football. Overall, Fanatics doesn’t offer quite as many options as the top sportsbooks, but is expected to close that gap somewhat over time.

Fanatics customer service

Fanatics offers customer service via a 24/7 live chat on its site. You can also reach a representative by phone at 855-438-9701.

Hard Rock Bet Sportsbook app

Hard Rock Bet Sportsbook is now available in seven states after first breaking into the online betting scene in New Jersey in 2019. The sportsbook is currently the only option available in Florida, and it leans into that with boosts highlighting Florida teams. The Wild Card Rewards program affords bettors the chance to earn points based on their play, but those rewards take a long time with lots of wagers in order to build to any significant level. Hard Rock Bet also makes building same-game parlays harder than it needs to be, since it doesn’t show the odds on each individual bet as you’re adding it.

Hard Rock Bet Sportsbook standout feature — highlighting sports that are live or about to start

The layout of the Hard Rock Bet app and website will look familiar to bettors who’ve used other sportsbooks. One thing it does well is focusing on sports that are underway or about to start, drawing attention to up-to-the-minute action. Hard Rock Bet also offers “happy hour boosts” from 4-7 p.m., with the sportsbook boosting specific games or picks for bettors to choose from.

Hard Rock Bet standout betting options

Hard Rock Bet has all the usual major leagues and sports, but some of the offerings differ by state. In Florida, the sportsbook is aggressive about offering boosts on in-state teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Florida Panthers, and Miami Marlins. The sportsbook also has some of the lesser-known niche sports and international events.

Hard Rock Bet customer service

Hard Rock Bet offers customer service 24/7 via email and online live chat. You can also reach representatives via phone, though there are separate numbers depending on the state, which you can find on the help section of the site.

Betway Sportsbook app

Betway Sportsbook is one of several overseas companies that continue to expand in the US, albeit not as rapidly as some. The sportsbook is currently available in eight states, but it does have some limitations with same-game parlays. While the book offers regular daily promotions, welcome bonuses on Betway have often been less enticing than those of many competitors. The big negative is the user experience on the app and website. The layout can feel tricky to navigate, and it sometimes takes lots of clicking around to find what you’re looking for.

Betway Sportsbook standout feature — variety of sports, especially among overseason options

In addition to all the major sports leagues that American bettors are used to, Betway offers a wider array of options on sports like MMA. While many top sportsbooks offer betting lines only on the UFC, Betway is one of the few to regularly provide odds on international promotions like KSW, Cage Warriors, ONE Championship, and others.

Betway standout betting options

In addition to offering more variety on sports like MMA, Betway is also one of the few sportsbooks to provide an “action sports” section. That includes motorsports like Formula DRIFT as well as World Surf League events. Betway also offers a robust tennis section, with options to bet on things like the total number of sets, games, as well as match double opportunities.

Betway customer service

Betway offers 24/7 live chat with a customer service representative on the site. You can also get help via email or by clicking the “contact us” link and filling out a ticket.

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 30 states plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, but the official launch is still pending in some places. Our legislative tracker provides more details about the status of each state.

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 state. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars, were among the first books to open for business in Arizona.

Read more: Arizona sports betting

Colorado sports betting

Voters approved legal sports betting 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. More books have since gone live in the state.

Read more: Colorado sports betting

Connecticut sports betting

Legal online sports betting is available in Connecticut. The launch occurred in October 2021, with DraftKings, FanDuel, and PlaySugarhouse now available for bettors. The new gambling compact with the state’s tribes allows retail betting and online sportsbooks. The Gaming Division of the Department of Consumer Protection oversees betting in the state.

Read more: Connecticut sports betting

Illinois sports betting

Illinois passed sports betting legislation in 2019, with the official launch in March 2020. Initially, the state required in-person registration for online and mobile bettors. That provision expired on March 5, 2022. Illinois sports bettors can download sportsbook apps, create accounts, and bet from anywhere within the state. DraftKings, BetMGM, PointsBet, BetRivers, and FanDuel are some of the top betting options in Illinois.

Read more: Illinois sports betting

Indiana sports betting

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

Read more: Indiana sports betting

Iowa sports betting

Iowa was also among the states that both legalized and went live with sports betting in 2019. It passed legislation in May, with the retail and mobile launch 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 live books in Iowa.

Read more: Iowa sports betting

Kansas sports betting

Kansas legalized sports betting in the spring of 2022, and it went live on Sept. 1 with six sports betting sites available. Gov. Laura Kelly signed the legislation into law in May, which went into effect on July 1. The law tethers online sportsbooks to commercial casinos in the state, with carveouts for pro sports teams who partner with a casino and the Kansas Speedway. Each casino license is permitted three online skins.

Read more: Kansas sports betting

Kentucky sports betting

Kentucky made sports betting legal on the last day of its 2023 legislative session. It opened up the market with in-person betting on Sept. 7, 2023, and online sports betting on Sept. 28. Eight online books have received licenses in Kentucky, with seven launching on day one of legal online betting in the state.

Read more: Kentucky sports betting

Louisiana sports betting

Online sports betting launched in Louisiana in January 2022 and is legal in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes. There are now eight online books available in the state, including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and BetRivers.

Read more: Louisiana sports betting

Maine sports betting

The most recent state to launch online betting, Maine’s process to legalization was a long one. Online sports betting launched on Nov. 3, 2023 with Caesars and DraftKings the only two betting apps available.

Read more: Maine sports betting

Maryland sports betting

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. Maryland officially launched legal online sports betting on Nov. 23, 2022.

Read more: Maryland sports betting

Massachusetts sports betting

Massachusetts legislators struck a last-second deal in the 2022 session to bring legal sports betting to the state. Online sportsbooks launched on March 10, 2023, with six to start with and as many as 15 permitted in the state.

Read more: Massachusetts sports betting

Michigan sports betting

Michigan signed sports betting into law in December 2019. Retail sportsbooks opened up in March 2020, and online followed in January 2021. There are around a dozen online sportsbook options available in the state.

Read more: Michigan sports betting

Nevada sports betting

Nevada’s days as the only legal US sports betting option are over. Not much has changed for the state since the US Supreme Court 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 from books like BetMGM.

Read more: Nevada sports betting

New Hampshire sports betting

Legal sports betting officially debuted in New Hampshire in December 2019 after the state Legislature approved it earlier in the year. The approval covered both retail and online books. DraftKings is the exclusive provider of online and mobile wagering in the state and also the operator of retail betting locations.

Read more: New Hampshire sports betting

New Jersey sports betting

The Garden State was among 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 BetRivers and FanDuel. There are now nearly two dozen NJ sports betting apps on the market.

Read more: NJ sports betting

New York sports betting

Legal sports betting arrived in New York in 2019 via retail wagering at commercial and tribal casinos. In April 2021, Gov. Andrew Cuomo added an online sports betting piece to the state budget, which passed both houses. Online sports betting went live in the state in January 2022 with Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetRivers. BetMGM and PointsBet joined shortly after.

Read more: NY sports betting

North Carolina sports betting

Gov. Roy Cooper signed NC sports betting legislation into law in June 2023, and online sports betting launched on March 11, 2024. Eight sports betting apps went live on launch day. Retail betting has been available in the state since 2019.

Read more: NC sports betting

Ohio sports betting

It was a long march for the Ohio Legislature, but lawmakers passed a sports betting bill in December 2021. Gov. Mike DeWine signed it into law shortly thereafter. Online sportsbooks launched in Ohio on Jan. 1, 2023. As many as 25 online sportsbooks can be available in the state at maturity.

Read more: Ohio sports betting

Pennsylvania sports betting

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

Read more: Pennsylvania sports betting

Tennessee sports betting

Tennessee approved sports betting in April 2019. There are no retail sportsbooks in the state, only online and mobile. Legal online betting was launched in the state in November 2020.

Read more: Tennessee sports betting

Vermont sports betting

Online sports betting launched in Vermont on Jan. 11, 2024. Sports betting is available exclusively online in the state via DraftKings, FanDuel or Fanatics.

Read more: Vermont sports betting

Virginia sports betting

Virginia legalized sports betting in April 2020, and the first sportsbook launched in January 2021. According to state law, there can be a minimum of four and as many as 12 online sportsbooks available.

Read more: Virginia sports betting

Washington, DC, sports betting

The city council approved sports betting in 2018, but the bill didn’t become law until January. GambetDC, an offering run by the lottery and powered by Intralot, has been 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 in the state 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 after, and others joined them.

Read more: WV sports betting

Wyoming sports betting

Wyoming legalized online sports betting in April 2021, with the first sportsbook launching a few months later in September 2021. The market features an online-only model.

Read more: Wyoming sports betting

Upcoming legal online sports betting states

States with limitations

Multiple other states also allow online sports betting, albeit with limited options for users. While many of the legal markets have opted for a competitive multi-sportsbook approach, others have settled on a single option or two to control the marketplace. Here are the details on those states.

Events to bet on

One of the convenient things about sports betting is that there are plenty of choices. For example, you can shop around for your favorite places to wager and focus on one or more bets that work for your approach. The same applies to what you’re wagering on. There are various choices, from the most popular games and leagues to less well-known options. Here’s a look at some of the most popular options at legal sportsbooks:

How to bet on sports online

While signing up to bet on sports in legal states isn’t tricky, what to do from there can be more difficult. However, we have several dedicated resource pages that provide detailed information on the basics.

The best options available for US sports bettors come via the sites that state regulators have approved for operation. Gaining acceptance and approval is not easy, and those who have joined the approved sportsbooks list have invested heavily.

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:

Things you can’t legally bet on in the US

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

Betting on the Oscars has been available in a few states, but sports betting is technically supposed to involve actual sporting events. The line gets a little blurry for the Super Bowl as off-the-field props may be available, such as the result of the coin flip.

Another area to pay close attention to is wagering on college sports. While college betting is legal everywhere sports betting is legal, some states impose restrictions. For example, bettors in New Jersey cannot wager on in-state schools or events, but neighboring Pennsylvania has no such prohibition.

Other states, such as Iowa, allow wagering on college sports teams but not prop bets on college athletes. For a detailed look at what is or isn’t legal, our state guides have additional insight.

Why can’t you bet on elections or the 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 that in the US. There may be plenty of history to betting on who will be the next president, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal.

Legal and regulated sportsbooks offer odds and wagers on sporting events. You won’t find options to legally bet on the weather or reality TV.

How online sports betting in the 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. Lawmakers quickly passed a bill that would have regulated sports betting at New Jersey racetracks and Atlantic City casinos. Gov. Chris Christie then signed the bill into law.

The major sports leagues challenged New Jersey in court, claiming that the state was not exempt from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Therefore, the leagues argued, New Jersey 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 leagues again prevailed in the lower court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

New Jersey appealed and received a rehearing in the Third Circuit, which it also lost. The Supreme Court agreed to hear it, and New Jersey won its case in May 2018.

American Gaming Association’s stance

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

Daily fantasy sports vs. sports betting

Daily fantasy sports contests are legal — or at least not explicitly illegal — in at least 40 states, according to the companies that promote the product.

However, there are some 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.

For many years, DFS revolved around salary cap games that were made popular by industry giants FanDuel and DraftKings. In recent times, a new style of play has emerged on sites such as PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy.  

Users can now play pick’em games in an over/under format on various sites, as well as contests that bear a strong resemblance to player prop and parlay betting. Since the games seem to share a lot in common with online sports betting, the debate over the legality of such games continues in many markets. 

FAQ for sports betting

Is it legal to bet on sports online?

It depends on where you are located. Legal sports betting is available 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 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 retail betting locations, sportsbook apps, and online sportsbooks. Some of Europe’s best online betting sites also operate in some US states.

What is the safest betting site?

The safest options for sports betting online are legal and regulated sites. DraftKings and FanDuel, for example, have received approval to operate online sportsbooks in many states. Legal and regulated sites must 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?

Cryptocurrencies aren’t on the list of approved banking options in legal online sportsbooks. The lone exception is Wyoming, a state that recently legalized online sports betting and has noted that cryptos are permitted for payment. While we might see this become an option elsewhere at some point, for now, cryptocurrency options are most commonly available on illegal and unregulated sports betting sites.

Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?

Yes, profits from sports betting or any other type of gambling count as taxable income in the US. If you win above a certain level, sportsbooks 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 regarding your personal situation, we encourage you to consult with a tax adviser.

How legit is Bovada?

Bovada is an unlicensed sports betting site that is not legal in the US. Bettors who use Bovada and other unregulated sportsbooks face risks of identity theft and financial mismanagement. Because these sportsbooks operate outside the legal bounds of the US, bettors have no legal recourse if an illegal book decides not to pay out winnings. With so many legal sportsbooks in the US, there is little reason to use a sportsbook such as Bovada, BetOnline or BetUS.