US Sports Betting Timeline: From PASPA To Today

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act stopped the legalization of sports betting in much of the United States upon its passage in 1992.

It stayed that way for more than 25 years. But that law came off the books in May 2018, when the US Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional.

Here’s a brief look at the history of the sports betting ban, the federal court cases against it, and what has happened

The history of US sports betting since PASPA


1992: Congress Passes PASPA

Bill Bradley PASPA

Congress enacts the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which bans all single-game wagering in the United States, outside of Nevada. It grandfathers limited forms of wagering in other states. New Jersey had a brief window in which it could have legalized wagering, but it failed to do so. The bill was sponsored by former NBA player, Sen. Bill Bradley


2011: NJ Passes Sports Betting

NJ voters enact a referendum allowing sports betting at the state’s racetracks and Atlantic City casinos.


2012: NCAA, Pro Leagues Sue To Stop NJ Sports Betting

The NCAA and four pro sports leagues — NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball — sue New Jersey to stop it from offering sports betting under the 2011 referendum. Sports betting is not allowed to proceed in the state.


February 2013: NJ Loses For The First Time

A judge in the US District Court for NJ granted an injunction to keep NJ from having sports betting. Michael Shipp at the time wrote there was “an undisputed direct link between legalized gambling and harm to the Leagues.” The leagues would spend the next five years arguing that a repeal of PASPA would harm them.

September 2013: Strike Two For NJ

New Jersey appealed to the Third Circuit after its loss in a lower federal court. Oral arguments took place over the summer, and a three-judge panel again found for the leagues, 2-1. The US Supreme Court declined to take up the case. NJ sports betting remained in no man’s land.


September 2014: Back To The Drawing Board

New Jersey alters its sports betting law based on direction from the Third Circuit in its decision. The new law is signed by Gov. Chris Christie.

October 2014: Back To Court

The NCAA and the pro sports leagues instantly file in federal court again to block NJ from implementing its new sports betting law.

November 2014: NJ Loses In District Court Again

The same District Court judge that found against New Jersey in the first iteration of the case again hands the state another loss in what has become a string of them.


November 2015: A Second Defeat In Third Circuit

De ja vu continues for New Jersey, as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals again rejects New Jersey’s case. NJ will go on to be granted a second appeal in the same court, however, with all of the circuit’s available judges weighing in.


August 2016: Stop Us If You’ve Heard This Before…

New Jersey loses for the third time at the federal appeals level, as the Third Circuit sides with the leagues once more in an “en banc” hearing. The last possible recourse in the case is the US Supreme Court.


June 2017: Supreme Court Takes The Case

New Jersey appealed the Third Circuit decision to the US Supreme Court in October 2016. But unlike the first time NJ tried, SCOTUS agreed to hear the case this time. The Supreme Court often overrules lower court hearings when it takes a case, so many were hopeful this time NJ sports betting might actually happen.

December 2017: Supreme Court Hears Christie vs. NCAA

The biggest moment in the history of the NJ sports betting case comes down to one hour of oral arguments in Washington, DC. The state of New Jersey and the pro sports leagues each have their final chance to tell the nine SCOTUS justices why PASPA should be struck down or upheld.


March 2018: West Virginia Sports Betting Legalized

West Virginia gets ready to go even before the Supreme Court decisions comes in. The state became the first of the year to pass a new law legalizing sports wagering.


The biggest moment in the history of US sports betting comes when the US Supreme Court rules for New Jersey and strikes down PASPA. Not only will New Jersey be able to have sports betting, but any other state outside of Nevada that wants to can legalize wagering too. And a lot of states will take that step in the coming weeks and years.

June 2018: Delaware Becomes First State Outside Of Nevada With Single Game Wagers

New Jersey won the case. But Delaware won the race to sports betting. The First State also became the first state with single-game wagering outside of Nevada, beating NJ by a few weeks Delaware only launches with retail sports betting. The state was also won one of the few states originally grandfathered in by PASPA, with parlay wagering allowed on NFL games. Delaware didn’t pass a new law to move forward, relying on existing law and regulations.

June 2018: NJ Passes A New Sports Betting Law

Just a month after winning in the Supreme Court, NJ actually passes a new sports betting law. The existing law allowed for what amounted to unregulated sports betting throughout the state. The new law clears up where and how sports wagering can occur, including details about online sports betting apps.

June 2018: NJ Sports Betting Begins

The first bets are taken in NJ in Monmouth Park and at Borgata in Atlantic City. It’s the culmination of years of court battles for New Jersey in its quest to legalize wagering in the state.

June 2018: RI Sports Betting Becomes Legal

The wave of sports betting interest continues in the Northeast, as Rhode Island enacts a new sports betting law. The state only gets into physical sportsbooks for now but would legalize online betting in 2019.

August 2018: DraftKings Is First App Outside Of Nevada

DraftKings Sportsbook app

The first legal online sports bet outside of Nevada was taken in New Jersey at the start of August, as DraftKings beat everyone else to market.

August 2018: Mississippi Sports Betting Arrives

Mississippi had legalized wagering in the previous year, changing its existing law to allow for it should PASPA be struck down. When it was, it opened up the floodgates, as more than two dozen sportsbooks would open in the state over the coming months.

August 2018: WV Sports Betting Launches

It didn’t take too long for West Virginia to go from law to the first sports bets being booked. While the retail rollout has gone well, online betting has not gone as smoothly in the state.

October 2018: Out Of Nowhere, New Mexico Sports Betting

Santa Ana casino sports betting

New Mexico never actually legalized sports betting specifically, but tribal casinos could start to offer it under their existing compacts. The first one of those went live at Santa Ana Star Casino.

November 2018: Arkansas Votes Approve Casinos, Sports Betting

Arkansas got into the sports betting mix late in the year, as voters approved casinos. At the same time sports betting was legalized at those casinos, with sportsbooks on the way in 2019.

November 2018: PA Sports Betting Goes Live

Pennsylvania was another state that had already legalized sports betting pending a change in federal law. The first one went live in the middle of the state, at Hollywood Casino.


January 2019: Washington DC Sports Betting Is Coming

The city’s mayor approved sports betting, but it would fully take effect later in the spring when Congress allowed the measure to become law.

May 2019: Montana Joins The Party

The first state to legalize sports gambling during the 2019 legislative sessions was Montana. The plan there will be to have retail and mobile wagering via the lottery. It would start a run of several new states in May.

May 2019: Indiana Sportsbooks Are On The Way

Indiana joined Montana as the next state to legalize wagering in 2019. The Indiana sports betting law allows for mobile wagering as well as the state’s gaming facilities.

May 2019: Iowa Sports Betting Approved

Iowa was the third state to legalize wagering in a busy month. Again, casinos and sportsbooks apps will be a part of the mix in Iowa, but mobile registration will have to take place in person until early 2021.

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