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Betting on football is the biggest part of the growing US sports gambling market. That’s due largely to tremendous interest in betting on the NFL, but also because of the games that take over Saturdays in the fall for sports fans: college football.
Read on for more information about betting on college football legally in the US and the market for it in the states.
College football betting used to be legal only in Nevada. But now, it’s legal in a variety of states around the country.
Here’s the current list of states where you can bet on sports, in general, (or will be able to in the near future), and wager specifically on college football:
|State||Is sports betting legal?||Is online sports betting legal?|
|Delaware||Yes||Yes, launch undetermined|
|Mississippi||Yes||Yes, on-property only|
|Montana||Yes, pending launch||Yes, pending launch|
|New Mexico||Yes, at multiple tribal casinos||No|
|North Carolina||Yes, pending launch||No|
|Tennessee||Yes, pending launch||Yes, pending launch|
|Washington DC||Yes, pending launch||Yes, pending launch|
A number of states have considered either a ban on collegiate sports entirely or a ban on betting on events involving schools in that state.
New Jersey is the only state where a ban on in-state collegiate events and in-state colleges exists. Nevada used to have a ban on betting on in-state schools — UNLV and the University of Nevada — but that ban has since been rescinded.
Here is a quick look at college football betting in some key states:
If you want to bet on college football in Nevada, you’re in luck, because there is no shortage of options. More than 100 sportsbooks are available; many in the population centers of Las Vegas and Reno.
Almost every sportsbook also offers a betting app where you can wager.
There is also a bowl game in the state every year: the Las Vegas Bowl. It pits teams from the Mountain West Conference and the Pac-12 Conference.
College football betting is undoubtedly a big part of the pie in New Jersey, because of the massive interest in college football generally.
But that is not because of interest in the in-state teams. Rutgers sometimes makes a bowl game but is usually not a player on the national scale.
Some of the online sportsbook options in New Jersey include:
There are a lot of colleges in PA, so that should mean lots of interest in betting on them legally.
However, one college stands alone in fandom in the state: Penn State. It’s a huge state school that draws fans from across the state, even if they didn’t attend.
Penn State is often in the upper echelon of the Big Ten and ranked nationally, although it has never made the College Football Playoff. It has won the national title, but it hasn’t in decades.
Other schools, like Pitt, Temple and Villanova, also draw rooting and betting interest in the state.
Here are the options for online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania:
Every other sport pales in comparison to West Virginia football in the Mountaineer State. And that’s especially true for betting on WVU football.
In fact, WV football is so big that it’s likely to be the single biggest driver of betting handle and revenue in the state.
Marshall University is also significant in West Virginia, and the team usually fields a competitive and sometimes very good football team that will draw betting interest.
Right now, there are two options for betting on college football online in WV:
Iowa is one of those states where betting on college football should be massive, especially as online betting gains traction.
The two-state schools, Iowa and Iowa State, are often excellent programs. And Nebraska, another program with a rabid fanbase, is just over the border, as well.
Indiana is another state with a lot of interest in betting on college football, mainly because it is the home to Notre Dame. The private school is routinely in the national championship hunt and is a favorite to watch nationwide. Its home state makes betting on Notre Dame football big business.
Indiana and Purdue also field football teams and should draw a lot of betting interest from Indianans.
Oregon will not have college sports betting on the app from the state lottery. However, you will be able to bet on college sports at any tribal casino that opens up a sportsbook in the state.
The group that oversees college athletics has been staunchly against betting on college sports for all of its existence; however, it has at least relaxed its stance in recent years.
The NCAA is still advocating for a federal ban on betting on collegiate events, or in state-level laws whenever possible. That’s despite the fact that there are billions of dollars already wagered on collegiate sports on the black market via local bookmakers and offshore sportsbooks that serve the US illegally.
Short of that, the NCAA and its member schools think the ban on in-state games for any state legalizing sports betting is also preferable.
The NCAA was the lead plaintiff in the federal court case that led to the end of the federal sports wagering ban. It joined the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL as plaintiffs in the case against New Jersey, which was attempting to prove that the ban was unconstitutional.
While some of the professional leagues evolved their stance on legal and regulated betting before and in the wake of that decision, the NCAA has not.
It’s difficult to come up with exact numbers for how much Americans bet on college football.
Our best data comes from Nevada, where we know betting on football, in general, is king of all sports. The state does not break down wagering by pro and college football. But anecdotally, the breakdown between the two is about 50-50.
While betting on the NFL is more popular, in general, there are more games at the collegiate level. There are more than 100 teams in the top echelon of college football — the Football Bowl Subdivision — with most of those playing on any given Saturday. That gives bettors more games they might be interested in betting on.
That dynamic could be different in other states, in that college betting could be more popular. The college teams in Nevada are not terribly good or popular in any given season, so interest in betting them is often muted.
But college football is hugely popular in many of the states that are legalizing sports betting. That’s especially true in the Midwest and the South, where there often isn’t a hometown pro football team to cheer for and bet on.
That includes the likes of West Virginia, Iowa, Indiana and Mississippi, where all have seen brisk college football betting as gambling became legal in each of those states.
As far as the illegal, offshore market go, again, good estimates are difficult to come by. The universe for all betting is tens of billions to $150 billion, depending on who is making the estimate. Certainly, billions are being wagered via illegally operating sportsbooks and bookmakers every week on college football.
The college football season ebbs and flows, and betting on it will do so as well. Here’s a look at how the calendar goes every year:
Not every sportsbook that will allow you to place bets on college football is operating legally in the US.
A variety of offshore sportsbooks serve the US market, including most of the states that have legalized sports betting. But those online sportsbooks are located outside of the US and operate in violation of state and federal laws.
How do you tell the difference? Well, the offshore sportsbooks that are commonly found by sports bettors are:
None of these sportsbooks serve the US market legally.
The easiest way to tell if a sportsbook is legal and regulated in your state, there will usually be a logo of the state’s gaming board along with a link to its licensing. If a sportsbook says it is licensed by a country and not a state in the US, is not operating where you live legally.
The moral: Choose carefully when deciding where to place your bets on college football.
If you want to bet on college football, there are a variety of ways to do so.
If you’re relatively new to betting on sports, in general, you can read more about sports betting terms. But the most common means of betting on football include: