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Online sports betting sites in the United States
Welcome to the new world of legal sports betting in the United States. The Supreme Court in May struck down PASPA, the federal law banning single-game wagering. Each state now can set its own rules for online sports betting unless Congress passes a new law. That appears unlikely but not impossible at this point.
It will be important to pay attention to the laws in each state. Not all that allow legal sports betting will choose to use online or mobile wagering platforms. Some states require that all bets be placed in a land-based casino or by mobile device while within a casino. Some have rules that allow online and mobile wagering anywhere within state lines.
Just because you download an app that is legal in one state doesn’t mean it will work in another. Smartphone apps will verify your location within a legal betting area before allowing you to wager. You will be rejected from betting if outside the legal borders.
Where can I place a legal online sports bet?
New Jersey sports betting sites
New Jersey sports betting kicked off in June 2018, less than a month after the fall of PASPA. Online sports betting officially went live in New Jersey on August 6, 2018 when DraftKings Sportsbook launched. FanDuel Sportsbook, the other market leader, launched its mobile app three weeks laster.
To date, there are 13 NJ sports betting apps on the market.
Nevada sports betting sites
Legal sports betting in Nevada did not change after the Supreme Court decision. Many Nevada casinos feature online and mobile sports betting platforms allowing you to wager anywhere in the state.
Geolocation technology on your device will ensure that you are located in Nevada before allowing you to bet. Bettors also must first establish an account in-person at a physical casino location before betting online. This includes verification of identification and a minimum cash deposit of between $50-$100 to fund the account.
West Virginia sports betting sites
West Virginia opened its sports betting operation in September. Only two public sportsbooks opened in 2018, and another started up at The Greenbrier, a private resort. West Virginia sports betting added the ability to bet via mobile in December 2018.
Pennsylvania sports betting sites
Pennsylvania sports betting started late in the game considering it had a law on the books in 2017, only launching in November. The Keystone State changed its law last year to allow legal sports betting anywhere within the state. State regulators approved this year a set of rules for sports betting that includes mobile. Retail sports betting is under way, and mobile sports betting is legal and could launch as soon as spring 2019.
Mississippi sports betting sites
Sort of. Mississippi sports betting must be done within a land-based or water-based casino. However, state regulations allow for mobile wagering while on casino property, though only one tribal casino has launched it.
Will any other states adopt legal online sports betting?
Delaware sports betting started in June 2018 with three casinos licensed to accept wagers. State legislators have discussed the possibility of adding online sports betting in the future. It is legal in Delaware but not active.
A tribal group in New Mexico has also begun offering sports betting, though the activity remains illegal elsewhere under state law. Meanwhile, Arkansas voters approved sports betting via a referendum at the ballot box this November.
New York, Rhode Island and Michigan continue work on sports betting legislation that could pass this year or next. More states likely will take up legal sports betting in 2019, with Connecticut at the front of the line. California state legislators are negotiating over sports betting and a ballot initiative could speed the process.
Sports’ leagues stance on legal sports betting
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took a front-facing role in advocating for legal sports betting in the US. His op-ed embracing sports betting spurred discussion on the topic long before the fall of PASPA.
Before and after the Supreme Court decision, NBA officials spent most of 2018 trying to get a cut of sports betting money from various state legislatures. They helped introduce the concept of an integrity fee in state-level legislation, claiming the league would face increased monitoring and enforcement costs in a national sports betting environment.
Silver recently added to that argument by calling NBA games the league’s “intellectual property” for which it deserves compensation.
The NBA does not permit wagering on its games through the Ontario Lottery, where the Toronto Raptors play. The same policy existed when an NBA team played in Vancouver. Provinces that do not host NBA teams offer parlay cards on games for the sport.
The NHL largely let other leagues take the lead on sports betting issues prior to signing a data and marketing agreement with MGM Resorts in November 2018. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also weighed in during the Stanley Cup Final in Las Vegas: the league wants federal legislation (or state-level equivalents) and a slice of sports betting money.
The NHL launched a new franchise in Las Vegas in 2017, which is the first major professional sports team for the country’s gambling hub. The Vegas Golden Knights drew heavy betting interest through their inaugural season.
It has no issues with the activity in Canada. Some teams participate with lotteries that sell NHL parlay cards. The NHL also opposed new sports betting legislation in Canada.
Major League Baseball is sensitive to betting on its games. In the post-PASPA world, though, MLB advocates for sports betting legislation that includes integrity fees paid to the league.
The league also signed a data and marketing deal with MGM Resorts in November 2018. It will provide the company with exclusive rights to advanced data for in-play betting.
With regard to integrity fees, MLB went as far as having top executive Joe Torre lobby Governor Andrew Cuomo directly on New York sports betting legislation. This represents a major shift from the league’s historical attitude toward gambling.
The 1919 Chicago White Sox threw a World Series, a scandal the league wants everybody to forget. Pete Rose betting on his games and the aftermath involved in that scandal is another black eye MLB never wants to see again.
While MLB joined the New Jersey lawsuit, it has no issues with betting on Toronto Blue Jays games in Ontario. The Montreal Expos were also on parlay cards when that team existed.
America’s most powerful sports league remains largely opposed to legal sports betting. The NFL publicly fought sports betting for decades and now wants federal legislation addressing it after PASPA. Interestingly, the NFL is not advocating for integrity fees.
Despite its stance on US sports betting, the NFL allowed the move of the Raiders to Las Vegas from Oakland beginning in 2020.
The NFL is the only major professional sports league with no direct investment into daily fantasy sports, although 28 of its 32 teams are involved in sponsorships.
NFL games are by far the most popular sports betting events in the US, with the Super Bowl generating close to $150 million in bets in Nevada by itself. The NFL plays games in London, where betting shops are on every corner, and the league seems to have no issues with that.
Long the staunchest opponent of legal sports betting, the NCAA finds itself in a tricky position after the repeal of PASPA.
The organization detests sports betting despite the fact that college football and March Madness are two of the largest drivers of handle. The NCAA instituted a de facto ban on national championship contests being held in states with legal sports betting, namely Nevada. But it reversed course after the Supreme Court decision, at least temporarily. That is in part because it already awarded future championships to states that will have sports betting.
The NCAA similarly does not like fantasy sports. It does not permit student-athletes to enter contests. Many conferences do not accept advertising from daily fantasy sites. The NCAA has attempted to convince sites to stop college fantasy sports contests, but DraftKings and FanDuel restarted their college contests post-PASPA.
Professional golf jumped into the sports betting fray by supporting the integrity fee concept along with MLB and the NBA. The tour also wants sports betting operators to pay for official data from its ShotLink system.
The data question also comes up with other leagues, but the PGA Tour claims to have a different case with proprietary data. In-play betting that relies on data can easily be gleaned from TV broadcasts in many sports. The same can be said for golf with scoring, but anything more in-depth (driving distance, length of putts, etc.) could require official data.
How online sports betting became legal
Challenge in New Jersey
New Jersey voters passed a non-binding referendum in November 2011 that instructed the state legislature to legalize sports betting. The legislature quickly passed a bill that would have regulated sports betting at New Jersey racetracks and Atlantic City casinos. Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law.
The major sports leagues challenged New Jersey in court, claiming that the state was not exempted by PASPA; therefore it could not legalize sports betting. A lower court ruling sided with the leagues, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed it. The US Supreme Court at that time refused to hear the case.
New Jersey tried another angle. The state attempted to deregulate and decriminalize sports betting in the same venues as before. The sports leagues returned to court and challenged the new approach to sports betting. The sports leagues prevailed in the lower court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
New Jersey was able to appeal and receive a rehearing in the Third Circuit, which it also lost. The Supreme Court then agreed to hear it and New Jersey won its case in May 2018.
American Gaming Association’s stance
The American Gaming Association is the gaming industry’s lobbying group. It maintains the black market of illegal gambling is too lucrative and thrives in the unregulated environment. The AGA supported the repeal of PASPA and strongly advocates for states to be able to write their own sports betting laws.
How is daily fantasy sports different from sports betting?
Daily fantasy sports is believed to be legal in at least 40 states, according to the companies that promote the product.
There are big differences between daily fantasy sports and sports betting.
In sports betting, a bettor picks a team or multiple teams to win or cover a point spread. In daily fantasy sports, a user chooses athletes and enters a competition that computes a winner based on the statistics accumulated by the players in a sport.
Current status of daily fantasy sports
Daily fantasy sports is generally considered to be legal in about 40 states, with laws on the books in about have of those.
States that restrict DFS
Daily fantasy sports are illegal in Iowa, Montana, Louisiana, Arizona and Washington. Nevada requires a gaming license to operate a daily fantasy sports site.
Opinions from attorneys general have emphasized the legal gray area for DFS in many states. DraftKings, FanDuel and others pulled out of Idaho, Hawaii and Alabama. FanDuel does not serve Texas, but DraftKings does.
FAQ for betting sites
What is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act?
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed Congress in September 2006. It made payment processing of illegal gambling transactions a federal crime. It exempted gaming specifically legalized at the state level, horse racing and some forms of fantasy sports.
Is sports betting legal in Europe?
Online sports betting is legal throughout most of Europe including the UK. This includes betting shops, mobile apps and over the Internet.
Is online sports betting legal in Canada?
Canada lotteries offer parlay cards on a variety of sports, including football, basketball, baseball and hockey. There is a push to expand betting to straight wagers. Online sports betting operates in a legal gray area.
Is online sports betting legal in the US?
Online sports betting is legal in Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia, where it is available on mobile apps and at websites. It soon will be legal in Pennsylvania. A limited option is legal in Mississippi.
What legal online and mobile sports betting is available in Nevada?
Sports Connection / Station Casinos, NV Sports Books / South Point, William Hill, CG Technology, Aliante Casino, Treasure Island and Boyd Gaming all operate mobile betting apps in Nevada. Sports Connection/Station Casinos also offers a website.
Can you deposit with PayPal at legal Nevada sports betting apps?
No, at this time you cannot deposit using PayPal for any Nevada sports betting apps. You will need to deposit in person or using a pre-paid card. There are options to top off your account at some convenience stores with certain Nevada apps.
PayPal is likely to be an option for payment in other states, however.
Is it legal to play on Bovada?
No. Bovada is an unlicensed sports betting site. It is illegal for the company to operate in the US but players likely face no legal consequences.
Are there risks to betting on sports at unlicensed sites?
Offshore sportsbooks may not pay players. If a bettor gets stiffed by an unlicensed betting site, then he or she has no recourse. That does not happen at licensed sites.