For US citizens new to online sports betting, understanding what options are available to you, and the surrounding legality can be confusing.
In May 2018 the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that had previously banned sports betting in most states. Because of that decision, each state now has the right to legalize sports betting, both at casinos and online. When a state legalizes sports betting, operators are regulated by a state entity, usually the lottery or gaming commission.
What States Have Legal Sports Betting?
As of March 2021, the following states have some form of legal sports betting: Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia, and Virginia. Some states only offer sports betting at physical sportsbooks, meaning casinos, racetracks, and gambling boats. Other states offer sports betting both online and at physical sportsbooks.
Each state has its own unique legislation regarding sports betting. Some states offer 20 different sportsbooks to choose from while other states only offer 1. Some states require you to signup in-person before betting online, although most states do not. Click on a state name to be directed to a page explaining the legislation and betting options available for that state.
What States Have Online Sports Betting?As of March 2021, the following states offer mobile betting: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia. In these states, you can bet on sports from your mobile device or laptop. In Nevada, you must go to a casino first to register your account before being able to bet. Mississippi has mobile betting, but only on casino grounds, which defeats the point of having mobile betting.
Is Offshore Betting Legal?
No, offshore sportsbooks like Bovada are not legal. Offshore sportsbooks are not legal because they are not overseen by a US regulatory body.
Despite being illegal, over the last 20+ years US citizens have placed millions of bets with offshore sportsbooks, like Bovada, without any interference from the state or federal government. The American Gaming Association estimates that over $150 billion is illegally wagered each year. Although offshore sportsbooks are not technically legal, some are loosely regulated by a foreign country.
Advantages of Betting with a US Regulated Sportsbook
The biggest advantage of using a US regulated sportsbook or casino is the regulation that comes with it. You know that you are gambling in a safe, legalized, and US regulated environment.
The ability to bet from a mobile app is an advantage many Americans can enjoy over offshore sportsbooks, which are unable to provide mobile apps because they are illegal.
Disadvantages of Betting with an Offshore Sportsbook
Offshore sportsbooks are not legal, not regulated by a US governing body, and often not regulated at all. Bottom line, your money isn't safe or secure.
Perhaps the second biggest disadvantage of offshore betting is the banking methods and fees that come with depositing and withdrawing. They typically limit withdrawal methods to checks, bank wires, or cryptocurrencies. Although deposit fees are rare, almost all offshore sportsbooks require withdrawal fees and withdrawal minimums if you are withdrawing your money via a non-cryptocurrency method. Fees for withdrawing money via a check are expensive and can often eclipse a staggering $50.
Another disadvantage of offshore betting is the lack of a dedicated mobile app. While offshore sites allow you to bet from a mobile device on their website, none of the sites have an app.
For Moneyline.com’s annual best online sportsbooks review, we collected more than 36,000 data points over five months from 20 sportsbooks that serve 11 states where full-scale mobile betting is legalized. Hundreds of hours were spent testing and scoring each sportsbook (mobile and online/desktop) in seven core categories: sports and bets offered, odds, live betting, mobile betting, education, ease of use, and bonuses and promotions. The results determined each sportsbook’s overall rating.
Data from more than 1,700 bets (including moneyline, spread and total bets) was used to generate each sportsbook’s comparative odds ranking. Leagues and bet types collected include NCAA football moneyline bets, NCAA basketball moneyline bets, NFL moneyline, spread and total bets, NBA spread, moneyline and total bets, NHL moneyline, puckline and total bets, and soccer 3-way result (moneyline) bets. When collecting odds, we made sure to collect the same games at the same time for each sportsbook, ensuring data accuracy.
About Moneyline.com’s chief sportsbook researcher, Joey Shadeck: I’ve been a hobby sports bettor for more than six years, placing hundreds of bets on my favorite sports (football, basketball, MMA) and teams (Packers, Spartans, and whoever is playing the Lions). Beyond sports betting, I’m known for saying “Wanna bet on it?” in almost any situation and that is how I found out I can eat 42 chicken nuggets in less than 20 minutes.
As of February 2021, 22 different states have legalized sports betting to some capacity. Of those 22 states, the following 11 have legalized full-scale mobile betting: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada (must register in-person), New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.