Although gambling and sports betting isn’t completely legalized across the United States just yet, it is becoming less and less taboo. We hear Sunday Night Football commentators and NBA analysts talk about which team is the Vegas favorite and what the point spread is. Major media outlets like CBS Sports and ESPN have their dedicated betting sub-domains like ESPN Chalk and SportsLine, so sports betting odds are openly talked about and are easier to find than ever before.
Today, let’s have a quick look at the state of the union when it comes to betting in the United States and learn where you can legally bet, what you can bet on and where you might be able to bet in the very near future.
Current Legal Sports Betting States
So here is the main thing to understand: New Jersey won a Supreme Court decision to legalize sports betting in NJ back in May of 2018. This sets a precedent and now any state that wants to federally legalize sports better can do so.
The United States of America is rapidly becoming sports betting friendly, and it’s about time. Obviously, Las Vegas and the State of Nevada were the first. Nevada has allowed sports betting for decades and is involved in discussions to act as an overseer for other states. Because Nevada already has a long-standing, proven track record, they could help with betting lines and risk management as well as liquidity.
The legal States in alphabetical order:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey*
- New Mexico
- New York*
- Rhode Island*
- West Virginia*
Each one of the above states is already up and running with legalized sports betting to some degree, tribal casinos, etc. States with an asterisc have fully regulated, legal sports betting industries.
States that have passed legislation and are moving towards implementation of state-wide sports betting:
- North Carolina
- Washington D.C. – not a state, but a still an independent district.
States that have introduced bills but have not passed them yet:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Each one of these states has introduced bills that will get the ball rolling for legalizing sports betting.
Only Alaska, Idaho, Nebraska, Wisconson, Wyoming, and Utah have not taken any action to legalize sports betting. Essentially, each one of these states has state laws in place that prohibit betting. So, there would have to be repeals and reform before new legislation could be introduced. For the first five, there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel, as for Utah, it is the only state in the US that we can say with near certainty will never see legalized sports betting. Gambling prohibition is written into the state constitution and the state as the state of Utah has an extremely strong stance against any sort of gambling, including the lottery.
Oregon already had laws in place that allowed some forms of sports betting at tribal resorts and casinos. So, moving to fully open single-game sports betting operations is simple and the Oregon lottery is looking at putting a sports betting product in place. Missouri was already set up will bills for riverboat operations pending a positive Supreme Court decision, so you’d think they would already be in full swing. However, their initial bills before the hearing didn’t move past the committee and now various new bills have been introduced.
So, as you can see, the bulk of the United States is on the way to becoming completely legal. 21 states are already fully operational or have passed the legislation legalizing sports betting. Another 24 states have introduced bills that would legalize sports betting at least to some extent. So all in all, 45 states have taken positive action towards the legalization of sports betting.
Very soon, unless you live in the near-beer land of Utah, you should be able to find legal sports betting outlets in just about any state in the contiguous U.S., with the exception of just a couple uber-conservative states.