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Sports betting is getting legal in the USA

sports betting
Photo Credit: cunaplus/Adobe Stock

You would be forgiven if you had no idea that before 14th May 2018, sports betting was illegal in the USA. The Supreme Court of the USA was the setting as six judges of the court voted to lift the ban on sports betting with only three dissenting on the said date. Since the ruling, states can’t wait to hop on the wings of freedom with legislation to regulate rather than ban sports betting in their jurisdiction. Two federal legislation stood in the path to legal sports betting before the historic Supreme Court judgment. They are, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and the Wire Act of 1961 to prevent organized crime. States have always tried circumventing such laws with clever pieces of legislation, but generally, it hasn’t always worked.

The journey to striking down the legislation stifling sports betting in the USA started with a judicial challenge by the state of New Jersey. New Jersey tried to work around the federal legislation prohibiting sports betting with state laws. Major Sports Leagues challenged the legality of the process, so New Jersey went to the law. The legal process went as far as the Supreme where the PASPA was deemed unconstitutional as it infringes states’ rights. As for the Wire Act, the Obama administration in 2011 had reckoned that it doesn’t apply to online gaming. However, in 2018, the Trump administration interpreted it to prohibit all forms of online gaming, the state of New Hampshire challenged this in court where the interpretation declared invalid. Those important pieces of judicial intervention thus set the tone for the legalization of sports betting in the USA. Find some really good infographics about these different steps in our article The impact of sports betting legalization in the US.

States where sports betting is now legal

Eleven states have made laws legalizing sports betting in their constituency since the historic rulings. Sports betting is now legal and fully operational in the following eleven states

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

There are seven more states that now have laws making sports betting legal, just awaiting an official launch. The seven states are

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee

24 states are waiting in the wings with work ongoing on legislation to make sports betting legal in their jurisdictions. However, there are eight states with no action at legalizing sports betting in their domain presently.

Legal online sports betting platforms in the USA

The budding online sports betting industry in America is gradually bursting into life in the states where they are now legal. Quite a few of them are already in operation and we would chronicle some of them here. Sports betting came on stream in New Jersey when DraftKings Sportsbook launched in August 2018. FanDuel Sportsbook boasts of a mobile app in the state too. Pennsylvania has SugarHouse Sportsbook PA, FanDuel Sportsbook PA, Parx, and BetRivers. Nevada has laws that make physical presence mandatory in its jurisdiction before a subscriber can play online sports bets with platforms on the state’s register. West Virginia has to sort out the legal wrangling that prevents its only mobile app provider, Betlucky, from operating. However, the state still boasts of FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings which came into the fray before the kickoff of the 2019 NFL season.

Rhode Island is partnering with William Hill to provide the state’s mobile betting app technology. Mississippi laws make it compulsory for sports betting to be through land or water-based casinos. Oregon sports betting is available statewide via the Scoreboard app. Tennessee’s laws allow only online sports betting in the state. Delaware has three American casinos permitted by law to accept wagers, though, the possibility of adding online sports betting in the future is quite high.

augusta free press
augusta free press