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Legal sports betting is now available in nearly half of all US states, largely thanks to a pivotal 2018 decision from the US Supreme Court.
SCOTUS that year struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), paving the way for the expansion of state-regulated betting beyond the borders of Nevada. Once the undisputed capital of the sports gambling world, Las Vegas may eventually yield its title to larger cities like Philadelphia, Chicago and New York.
The decision by the US to legalize sports betting has also put pressure on other countries to follow suit. Specifically, legal sports betting in Canada is advancing quickly as a direct result of cross-border competition between casinos.
So far, 24 US states and the District of Columbia have either passed sports betting legislation or begun regulating the activity under existing laws.
Half of the states with legal sports betting also allow online wagering via the web and mobile devices.
* Requires in-person registration
The most recent addition to the list is Michigan, which launched mobile betting on Jan. 22, 2021, following a gradual roll-out of retail betting the preceding year. Virginia beat it out of the gates by a single day, with its first sportsbook starting to take bets on Jan. 21. Several more states could join the club in the near future, with Connecticut sportsbooks seeming almost certain to be legalized this year and to roll out sometime in 2022.
Sports betting apps and websites generate upwards of 85% of the total handle in jurisdictions that allow remote account registration. That percentage is substantially smaller across the group of states in which in-person signup is a prerequisite to mobile betting.
See the full breakdown of US sports betting revenue on Legal Sports Report.
Below are some of the most popular sports betting apps available in the US. Click through to see reviews for each, including current bonuses and promotions available to new bettors.
Most US sports betting apps are available for both iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and Android.
Of course, not every app is available in every state with legal sports betting. Access to a given jurisdiction typically requires obtaining a land-based gambling license or partnering with a property that already has one.
These market-access deals are the primary vehicle for expansion, with most smaller casinos choosing to outsource their sports gambling operations.
Here are answers to some common questions about legal US sports betting.
Yes. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal PASPA in 2018, there is no longer any federal law that prohibits wagering on sports. Legal sports betting has subsequently expanded into more than 20 US states, with nearly every other contemplating legislation.
Policymakers are responsible for determining the minimum age for legal sports betting in each state, ranging from 18 in some to 21 in most. Check with your local gaming regulator for the rules where you are.
About half of states with regulated sports betting also allow mobile wagering. See the upper section of this page for the full list of states with legal online sports betting.
Sports betting is taxed at the federal, state, and in some cases local level.
State taxes vary across the map, ranging from 6.75% in some up to a whopping 34% in Pennsylvania. Laws in some places also direct a share of revenue to local jurisdictions, such as the 2% that goes to PA counties with casinos. In some others, like New Jersey, retail and online betting are taxed at separate rates.
States in which the lottery operates sports betting typically employ a more lopsided revenue-sharing structure. The lotto keeps about half of all revenue in this group of states — Delaware, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island — leaving the other half to be shared across the entire supply chain.
Uncle Sam also gets his cut of the proceeds, of course. Congress long ago installed a federal excise tax on sports betting amounting to 0.25% of the total amount wagered, and it remains on the books today.
Bettors are additionally responsible for paying standard income tax on their sports betting profits.
No. Federal law prohibits gambling sites based in foreign countries from serving US customers, though a lack of enforcement has allowed these offshore sportsbooks to flourish.
Legality aside, operators like Bovada and MyBookie are not licensed or regulated by any reputable gaming authority.
The NCAA and some of its member universities argue that collegiate betting carries too many integrity risks to be widely available, and the response from lawmakers has been mixed.
New York and New Jersey, for instance, chose to exclude betting on in-state college teams or events. Iowa does allow bets on in-state teams, but not on props involving individual players. In Oregon, all college sports are off the board.
That said, most states with legal sports betting broadly allow action on most college sports.
Most sports betting laws in the US neither explicitly include nor exclude competitive activities that don’t meet the traditional definition of a “sport,” such as esports and strategy games like chess.
Nevada was the first state to allow any form of esports betting, approving events on a case-by-case basis.
New Jersey regulators additionally allowed sportsbooks to take wagers on the League of Legends World Championship in 2019, while lawmakers in the state have for two consecutive years considered a bill that would expressly authorize such markets.
Indiana, on the other hand, does not allow any esports betting whatsoever. West Virginia has a partial ban that only allows wagers on esports events in which all participants are adults.
In most other states, the issue remains legislatively unsettled.
While there is no federal law governing US election betting, it is unlikely any state will allow trading on political markets in the near term. That is, of course, ignoring the few minutes in 2020 during which officials in West Virginia believed such wagers were legal.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission does not permit election markets, in part because such speculation is prohibited under state law in many jurisdictions — including WV. Political wagering additionally raises concerns about the manipulation of the democratic process and is generally incompatible with public policy.
There are two exceptions; the Iowa Electronic Markets and the website PredictIt both operate as educational endeavors under No Action letters from the CFTC.
The concept of the integrity fee was one of the first points of contention to emerge following the fall of PASPA.
Beginning shortly thereafter, professional leagues (led by the NBA and MLB) began lobbying lawmakers for direct inclusion in their sports betting legislation. The industry, they argued, could not exist without their proprietary games.
The leagues’ request for compensation initially took the form of an integrity fee amounting to 1% of all wagers, an ask that was later reduced to .25%. Such a fee is not only legally unfounded but also untenable for an industry that operates on such tight margins.
Lawmakers in every relevant state rejected the notion of direct payments to leagues, so lobbyists instead pivoted toward monetizing official data by legislative mandate.
Official league data refers to the set of statistics complied directly by a sports governing body or, more commonly, one or more authorized third-party collectors. The two biggest — Genius Sports and Sportradar — are responsible for distributing this data on behalf all major sports leagues.
In the eyes of the courts, most sports data is legally in the public domain and can not be copyrighted.
Regardless, data has become the subject of significant chatter amid the expansion of regulated sports betting in the US as leagues lobby for mandates that would prohibit bookmakers from using unofficial sources. So far, only three states have imposed any sort of limited data mandate — Illinois, Michigan, and Tennessee.