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One of the fastest-growing global sports betting industries is in the US. For outsiders, this may come as a surprise because gambling is so freely available in many other Western countries. However, for some time now, the US laws on sports betting have been quite restrictive in most states.

Federal and state laws have prevented gambling companies from opening within certain states without proper due process designed to negotiate how to fairly protect player consumer rights, prevent money laundering, and disallow predatory advertising. Furthermore, another key topic in these negotiations is the small matter of creating federal as well as state tax revenues.

How does sports betting become legal in a US state?

In plain English, for sports betting to become legal/approved in a US state, congressional votes must rule in favor of gambling bills presented by state officials in support of sports betting. This usually takes several rounds of voting. One of the main challenges for those in support of pushing through a gambling bill is to convince those who are still undecided whether to vote ‘for or against’. The main selling point here is proving a regulatory authority can be set up to control the industry and bring in tax revenues. As a result of this back-and-forth process, passing these bills has been a slow procedure in many states.

Online gambling has posed a more demanding challenge mainly because of the technological challenges of regulating virtual gambling businesses that exist in the online space. Yet, today’s technology has advanced considerably with states like Nevada paving the way. Its successful implementation of online sports betting has provided other states with modern tech solutions that can regulate online betting.

Consequently, new tech has paved the way for the rise of online sports betting across multiple states as per this legal online gambling states overview here which will help you gauge just how large the US sports betting industry has grown.

2018 to 2020 Saw the Largest Number of State Legalize Sports Betting

Nevada has the longest history of allowing legal sports betting. Most bets were placed in casinos or small licensed (and sometimes unlicensed) retail stores. In 2014, online sports betting came online in the state. Shortly after, 2018, 2019, and 2020 saw multiple states legalize sports betting, some retail, others online, and many of these states now allow online sports betting via mobile apps.

  • 1931 – Nevada
  • 2009 – Indiana, New Hampshire
  • 2018 – Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey
  • 2019 – Arkansas, Tennessee, New York, Iowa, Oregon
  • 2020 – Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Colorado
  • 2022 – New York

There are still more states actively seeking to pass bills in congress with some more successful than others. Georgia recently faced bad news congress voted against the bill. However, we will see sports betting coming to Maine and Massachusetts while there are more states still waiting for approval. There is also a possibility of Florida allowing sports betting, but there is still some debate with plenty of powerful/influential figures refusing to accept a recent vote in favor of brining sports betting to the state

States Currently Operating Legal Online Sports Betting Apps

Online sports betting is a different matter altogether. However, that has not stopped the impressive growth of online sports betting websites gaining licenses to operate in certain states allowing them to make deals with financial firms such as PayPal, Neteller, and other online payment services helping casinos make regular deposits and withdrawals.

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Washington, D.C.
  • West Virginia

Pari-mutuel Betting is Legal Across 40+ US States

US states will often divide their sports betting into smaller categories. Some relate to restrictions on college sports betting, there is also DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports), and the main spots separated from traditional sports betting, are horse and dog racing – something that is generally not separate in other countries such as the UK and many European gambling companies.

As far as lenience goes across US states when it comes to Pari-mutuel Betting, there has rarely been any issue getting state congress to allow betting on-track racing.

Here’s the current list of 40 states where Pari-mutuel Betting is Legal

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

What does the Future Hold for US Sports Betting?

There are still plenty of states still pushing to bring online and retail sports betting to their citizens. It is a far cry from that famous ‘Black Friday’ shut down of all online gambling sites in the USA. 

It makes perfect sense when you consider the huge federal and state tax revenues that can be earned, while for US citizens, having a legal domestic online gamblines site allows them to gamble in US Dollars thus avoiding foreign exchange rates, which many players just accepted when unregulated online gambling was an epidemic in the US. 

Now, for states not yet convinced, online gambling should be made legal to overcome certain valid concerns, which as all points argued/presented in congress to persuade those on the fence to vote for new gambling bills to come into action.

You would think tax dollars would be a good enough reason, but for some congressmen, tax revenue is not a good enough reason to legalize sports betting, while others worry about the negative effects of gambling. Yet, with the way sports betting is quickly spreading across the US, it is hard to see those state congressmen currently resisting (voting against) sports betting hold out much longer. However, the process is speeding up at a recording space, and we expect to see several more states bring online and/or retail sports betting online over the course of 2022/23.