Best Sports Betting Sites in the US for December 2023
With so many options for bettors in today’s online sports betting market, picking an app can seem overwhelming. That’s why we put together a list of the best sports betting sites in the US, each one ranked and reviewed by betting experts at LSR.
Legal online sports betting is now available in 26 states plus Washington, DC., and residents of North Carolina can look forward to likely being next. In many states, competition for customers is intense as the top sports betting sites attempt to offer the best sportsbook promos and bonuses for new users.
Taking advantage of those promos and getting started at an online sportsbook is quick and simple. In most locales, you can register online via mobile or on a sportsbook’s website. This page will highlight everything you need to know about online sports betting, how to get started, and the best sports betting promotions and bonuses.
Best sports betting sites: US options for December 2023
Top 10 sports betting sites USA
Online sportsbook availability will vary by state. Some have more than 20 options, while others may have as few as one or two. In some states, new betting sites continue to launch.
Online sports betting in Virginia launched in January 2021. The state prohibits betting on in-state college teams and events. Top sportsbooks in Virginia include BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars.
The list of online sports betting options continues to grow. Here are the best betting sites in the US today:
- Caesars Sportsbook
- Bet365 Sportsbook
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- BetRivers Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- Unibet Sportsbook
- Betway Sportsbook
- Fanatics Sportsbook
Caesars Sportsbook has expanded its online presence since it acquired William Hill’s US assets. Now one of the top online sportsbooks on the market, the Caesars app combines a simple and solid sports betting experience with competitive odds and a steady stream of boosts and promos. From same-game parlays to live betting, there isn’t much you can’t do on the app. You should also be able to find whatever sport or event you want to wager on, as Caesars boasts one of the deepest catalogs of available betting options among its peers.
But, the top draw to the Caesars Sportsbook app might be the Caesars Rewards program. The program allows bettors to accumulate points they can redeem for betting promos, bonuses, and even perks such as discounted or free nights at Caesars hotels around the world.
- App Store rating: 4.6 (iOS), 4.4 (Android)
- Key takeaway: Gets back to basics with a simple but effective app
- Best feature: Prop betting
- Available in: AZ, CO, IN, IL, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA & WV
with the Caesars Sportsbook promo code LSR1000
One of the world’s largest sportsbooks and sports betting sites, bet365 has begun an expansion into the US and is now available in six states, with more likely on the way. Daily odds boosts and super boosts are one of the hallmarks of the bet365 app and are prominently displayed for users to take advantage of. The app is beginner-friendly and easy to navigate but also offers a personalized display to spice up the experience for users of all levels. Live-betting options are plenty; users can even live-stream some events from the app.
With so many exciting features, it’s easy to see why bet365 proliferates across North America. However, Android users have consistently left poor app reviews, with customer service and app navigation being particular areas of concern.
- App Store rating: 4.6 (iOS), 2.1 (Android)
- Key takeaway: Competitive odds and an easy-to-use app
- Best feature: Personalized display
- Available in: CO, IA, KY, LA, NJ, OH & VA
with the bet365 bonus code LSRVA
BetMGM Sportsbook has become a leading option in many states where sports betting is legal. BetMGM is known for its deep menu of sports available for betting and some of the best promotions and bonuses for users. Right now, you can get up to $1,500 back in bonus bets if you don’t win when you sign up at BetMGM and use the promo code PLAYLSR.
The “Edit my bet” feature may be the most popular function on the app as it allows users to add, remove, or swap selections on an already active bet slip. Users can also increase their stake to improve odds or take a cash-out option to cut their losses. The app can take some getting used to and isn’t known for offering the most competitive odds, but the sleek interface, rewards program, and menu of betting options still make this app a top choice for many bettors.
- App Store rating: 4.8 (iOS), 4.6 (Android)
- Key takeaway: The number of bets makes up for what the app lacks
- Best feature: “Edit my bet”
- Available in: AZ, CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MS, NJ, OH, NV, NY, PA, TN, VA, WV & WY – Note: Offer not available in DC, MS, NV or NY
with the BetMGM bonus code PLAYLSR.
BetRivers is another book that features a large menu of sports and betting options. Bettors will find valuable stats and tips within the game listings in the main betting lobby and a large selection of alternate lines and props. BetRivers also has a rewards program, iRush Rewards, that bettors can use to gain points toward VIP gifts, event tickets, BetRivers branded merch, and other special offers.
Despite low reviews from iPhone users, BetRivers is known for speedy cash-out approvals and a generally smooth experience dealing with customer service. And while BetRivers delivers consistently competitive odds for its deep menu of sports, the UX on the app and desktop is a bit chaotic.
- App Store rating: 2.7 (iOS), 3.9 (Android)
- Key takeaway: A good app for the beginner who likes a touch of casino gambling, too
- Best feature: iRush Rewards
- Available in: AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, LA, MD, MI, OH, NJ, NY, PA, VA & WV
with the BetRivers bonus code LSRRIV.
A nationwide leader in the sports betting industry, FanDuel Sportsbook has become ubiquitous in almost every legal state. A smooth, user-friendly app goes a long way when recruiting new users, as does offering competitive odds, enticing promotions, and a deep catalog of sports to wager on. FanDuel checks all of those boxes and more. Top-notch customer service and quick deposits and withdrawals are also a calling card of this app.
The same-game parlay feature is one of the more popular aspects of the FanDuel app, and the large selection of player props makes using it even easier. While FanDuel consistently changes its sports betting promotions to entice new bettors, it could offer recurring promos to existing users better. The selection of odds boosts also tends to lag behind other top competitors.
- App Store rating: 4.8 (iOS), 4.7 (Android)
- Key takeaway: Easy-to-use app that delivers on most key betting features
- Best feature: Same-game parlays
- Available in: AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV & WY
No FanDuel promo code necessary.
The DraftKings Sportsbook app is one of the most popular in the US, as virtually everything you need in a sports betting site is just a click or swipe away. First, DraftKings’ app is one of the best for pure aesthetics. The dark-mode color scheme and user-friendly design make this app not only pleasing to look at but also highly functional.
It doesn’t take long to sign up, and customer service is easy to access through live chat or email, but the in-app betting features set DraftKings apart from many other apps. DraftKings is known for its selection of live-betting options complete with real-time updates so you can monitor in-game situations. Bettors can also take advantage of the betting pools feature, which allows users to compete in small groups with friends.
DraftKings also has some of the best new-user promotions in the industry. While the app could improve its daily odds-boost offerings and promos for existing players, this sleek, easy-to-use app is top-of-class in many states for a reason.
- App Store rating: 4.8 (iOS), 4.7 (Android)
- Key takeaway: A good app for live betting
- Best feature: Betting pools
- Available in: AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV & WY
No DraftKings promo code necessary.
The Unibet app has a solid selection of live-betting options and a good menu of props and sports. You can also live stream thousands of events on the Unibet app and take advantage of a competitive welcome bonus when you sign up.
Unibet doesn’t have the same depth of betting options as some of the options listed above, but it does offer competitive odds and every type of bet you could want for major sports. Unibet’s weekly parlay boosts are also a popular feature, as the app will provide a larger boost as you add more legs to the parlay.
Overall, Unibet may not stand out with the flash and menu of options provided by some competitors. Still, it’s a solid app – especially for the bettor who likes live betting on major North American sports.
- App Store rating: 3.2 (iOS), 3.9 (Android)
- Key takeaway: Solid app with good live options
- Best feature: Live streaming
Betway is a newer name in US sports betting circles but is a well-known brand in several overseas markets. There’s plenty of experience behind the scenes, and that shows up in a clean and efficient sportsbook with regularly competitive odds and lines, along with a great betting selection. Betway might be new to the scene but generally ranks highly among sports betting sites.
The menu of options available at Betway stands out, particularly for bettors who like to wager on niche sports or international competitions in sports like cricket or handball. While some apps reserve their promos primarily for new users, Betway does a good job featuring promotions for existing bettors, such as daily odds boosts and event-specific parlay boosts. Betway also provides a rewards program for users and offers a popular early cash-out option.
- App Store rating: 4.7 (iOS), 4.4 (Android)
- Key takeaway: Competitive odds
- Best feature: Live-betting options
Fanatics is available in a few states, but that will likely grow with the company’s purchase of PointsBet. The sportsbook itself is fairly simple, as it has recently launched a beta version of its app. However, bettors can still expect all the typical bets they would find on more established platforms. “FanCash” is the reward program, offering between 1% back on straight bets and 5% on same-game parlays.
- App store rating: 3.7 (iOS), 3.8 (Android)
- Key takeaway: Rapid expansion is likely with the PointsBet acquisition
- Best feature: Rewards program
How we rank the best sports betting sites
Choosing the best betting sites takes many factors into account. First, each legal sportsbook’s menu of available bets is a major influence on its ranking. The more options available to bettors, the better. Having competitive odds can also make a sportsbook stand out from its competitors.
The customer service reputation of the sports betting site is also essential. Bettors want fast-paying sportsbooks, easy deposits, and smooth communication with customer support. Users also always look at available bonuses, loyalty programs, and odds boosts.
We also take into account the performance of each sports betting site from a user experience perspective and consider any distinct features that an app may provide. For example, DraftKings offers betting pools that allow customers to wager alongside friends and family.
Live betting options, live streaming availability, app intuitiveness, usability, and personalization are essential factors in deciding the best betting sites.
New sports betting sites for December 2023
The landscape of legal sports betting in the US is changing rapidly. Every month, new online sports betting sites pop up across the country and it can be difficult to keep track of what is happening in each state. The chart below will help you identify the new sports betting sites in every state while providing the latest promo or bonus code available now in each sportsbook.
|Sportsbook||New States||Latest Welcome Bonus||Latest Promo Code|
|Bet365 Sportsbook||LA, CO, IA, KY, OH, VA||Bet $5 and get $150 in bonus bets|
|Betfred Sports||AZ, IA, OH, VA||Up to $105||LSRBONUS|
|BetMGM Sportsbook||KS, KY, MA, MD, OH||Up to $1,500 in bonus bets as a refund if your first bet doesn’t win.||PLAYLSR|
|BetRivers Sportsbook||KY, MA, MD, OH||Second-chance bet up to $500||LSRRIV|
|Betway Sportsbook||AZ, OH, VA||First bet reset up to $250 back in bonus bets if your first bet loses||No code necessary; click to claim|
|Caesars Sportsbook||KS, KY, MA, ME MD, OH||$1,000 first bet on Caesars||LSR1000|
|DraftKings Sportsbook||KS, KY, MA, MD, OH, ME||Get up to $1,200 in bonuses||No code necessary; click to claim|
|FanDuel Sportsbook||KS, KY, MA, MD, OH||Bet $5 on any money line, get $150 in bonus bets if your team wins.||No code necessary; click to claim|
|Pinnacle Sportsbook||ON||N/A||Use affiliate code LSR|
|Tipico Sportsbook||OH||N/A||No code necessary; click to claim|
|Tonybet Sportsbook||ON||N/A||No code necessary; click to claim|
Top 3 new sports betting sites for 2023
As the US sports betting industry evolves, new sportsbooks continue to pop up nationwide. A new state launch, such as Kentucky or North Carolina, can bring some familiar sportsbooks to new groups of people. In other instances, businesses change brands as companies dissolve, invest, and divest. Below is a list of three of the newest sportsbooks in the US.
1. Hard Rock Bet
Hard Rock Bet is the new name and rebrand of the old Hard Rock Sportsbook. The book is owned and operated by the Florida-based Seminole Tribe and is currently live in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Hard Rock is likely better known for its casino and restaurant businesses, but the app offers a sleek, aesthetically pleasing interface and a top-of-the-industry loyalty program for sports bettors.
2. ESPN Bet
When PENN Entertainment announced that it was selling the Barstool brand back to outspoken founder Dave Portnoy, it also announced a new deal with media titan ESPN, owned by Disney, to rebrand Barstool Sportsbook as ESPN Bet.
After a couple of months of preparation work with state gaming regulators, ESPN Bet launched in 17 states on Nov. 14, 2023. The familiar sports giant used two of its well-known media personalities as the initial faces of the brand, and early reviews were mixed after some users experienced trouble with the app. Still, ESPN figures to be a significant player in legal states nationwide as one of the most recognizable sports entities in the US.
ESPN Bet is live in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
3. Fanatics Sportsbook
Like ESPN Bet, Fanatics found its way into states with legal sports betting by taking over an existing brand. The apparel giant purchased PointsBet’s US assets in June 2023 and began slowly rebranding PointsBet to Fanatics Sportsbook over the following months. Now live in Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, Fanatics plans to continue expanding across the country.
PointsBet is still available in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. These states are likely to make the change from PointsBet over to Fanatics in the coming weeks or months.
learn more about payment methods
Is online sports betting legal in the US?
Yes, in some places. To date, 26 states, plus Washington, DC, have legalized online sports betting, and the list will likely continue growing in the coming years. In 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting and placed the decision of whether to allow the activity into the hands of individual states. While sports betting has since become legal in many states, there hasn’t been any federal legislation.
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 24 states plus Washington, DC, but the official launch is still pending in some jurisdictions. Florida, meanwhile, saw the launch of legal online sports betting in November 2021, had it discontinued pending a lawsuit, and now could return at some point in 2023.
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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. The list of available options continues to grow.
Read more: Indiana sports betting sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 1 of legal online betting in the state.
Read more: Kentucky sports betting sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
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 sites
Other legal online sports betting states
States with limitations
Another group of 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.
- Arkansas: Online sports betting is legal in Arkansas, but it is available through three apps: Betly, Oaklawn Sports, and BetSaracen.
- Delaware: While sports betting is legal in Delaware, all wagering must occur at one of the state’s three casinos.
- Florida: Sports betting is legal again after a federal panel of judges overturned a lower court ruling prohibiting online sports betting in Florida. Bettors can place wagers with Hard Rock Bet.
- Mississippi: Retail sports betting is the priority in the state, with just one online sportsbook (BetMGM) that you can access only while on casino property.
- Montana: To legally place bets in Montana, users must be within the geofenced footprint of an approved retail outlet.
- New Hampshire: Sports betting is overseen by the New Hampshire Lottery, which has partnered with DraftKings for online betting.
- North Carolina: Sports betting is legal at three sportsbooks in the state, and legislation has been passed to allow online betting. North Carolina should launch in early 2024.
- Oregon: The Oregon Lottery is in charge of all sports betting in the state and partnered with DraftKings as the lone online option.
- Rhode Island: The Rhode Island Lottery controls online sports betting in the state, with a platform from William Hill/IGT.
- South Dakota: State law limits betting to in-person wagering at casinos in Deadwood.
- Vermont: Vermont sports betting is legal but likely won’t launch until early 2024.
- Washington: Sports betting is legal only on tribal lands. While online betting is also legal, it must take place at tribal casinos.
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 odds at legal sportsbooks:
- NFL odds: The NFL is the most popular sport for betting in the US. There are a large number of NFL betting sites to choose from. Betting on Super Bowl odds is the biggest annual single-day event for sportsbooks, and they go all-out with hundreds of prop bets.
- NBA odds: 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 additional interest and wagers.
- MLB odds: The days of MLB being the most popular sport in America are in the past, but it still has a large following. Interest will be high around opening day and again during the MLB playoffs and World Series.
- NHL odds: While the NHL trails the big three in attention, this is still a sport with a loyal and passionate following. Once the playoffs roll around, a surge continues with Stanley Cup odds until a champion is crowned.
- College basketball odds: Many seasoned handicappers shift their attention here after football season has wrapped up. Regular-season college basketball is popular, but the sport takes over the spotlight with one of the year’s signature betting events — March Madness can get even the most casual fans off the sidelines.
- College football odds: For the fall and winter months, football controls the conversation in American sports. While college football isn’t quite on the level of the NFL in terms of overall popularity, there are games where the betting is comparable to its pro counterpart. That’s especially true for bowl season and the College Football Playoff.
- Boxing odds: Some popular wagers are on highly anticipated boxing matches. Many sportsbooks offer match lines and player props for upcoming fights. The betting market can differ based on the sports betting site, but popular fights on PPV are usually available on any platform.
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, several dedicated resource pages provide detailed information on the basics.
- Sports betting odds: Sports betting and numbers go hand-in-hand. One of the most critical areas for those new to the game to understand is the odds. After you gain a little seasoning, you’ll understand the most likely outcome, the potential return for winning bets, and which side the public might be backing just by studying the odds.
- Moneyline: This is a basic bet and a good starting point for beginners. When betting on the moneyline, you must choose which side you think will win. There will be odds on both sides: negative numbers for favorites and positive for underdogs.
- Parlay: 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 correct all your 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: The point spread essentially 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 occurs in many sports, but it might go by different names, such as run line betting for baseball or puck line betting for hockey.
- Total: This bet — aka an over/under — is a wager on the total combined score of a game. Oddsmakers will set a line, and bettors can wager on whether the score will be over or under that line. The odds on both sides can move in response to betting action.
- Props: A prop bet is a wager on a smaller aspect within a game, such as team or player performance or on the contest as a whole. A prop is a side bet on something that might or might not happen. Prop bets on player performance share much in common with fantasy sports and can serve as a natural starting point for many new bettors.
- 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 and lowering your potential payout.
Legal vs. offshore betting
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:
- The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006 to crack down on offshore betting sites. 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 sportsbooks do not operate under the same rules and regulations as legal US betting sites. There is no guarantee, for example, that your funds, data, or information will be safe.
- Legal sports betting sites have clear terms and conditions, house rules for players to follow, a range of normal banking options, and customer service that is easy to reach. That’s not the case with offshore sites.
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:
- High schools sports
- Sports involving athletes younger than 18
- Elections — local, state, presidential, etc.
- Weather events
- Reality TV outcomes
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 became legal in the US
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.
FAQ for betting sites
Is it legal to bet on sports online?
Yes, but 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 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.