In this article, we will take a brief look at the history of sports gambling in the United States. We will also list all states and their current status regarding the legality of sports betting.
THE WINDS OF CHANGE
The phrase ‘landmark decision’ is thrown around rather easily these days.
Often it is merely a hyperbolic way to increase the exciting, shock value of any article. In this case, however, it seems more than justified.
New Jersey’s Supreme Court victory on Monday the 14th of May 2018 must surely qualify.
The United States Supreme Court struck down the federal ban that had previously prohibited betting on sports in most states.
Ever since it was signed into effect in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) made sports betting illegal in almost all states across the US.
PREVIOUSLY THE ONLY OPTIONAL ‘FLUTTER’ WAS THE STATE LOTTERY
The ruling to overturn that effectively left the legality of sports gambling to the governments of each individual state. It paved the way for each state to choose to legalize sports betting and regulate its own sports gambling markets and laws.
The sports betting industry is one that is almost incalculably huge in its potential revenue in the USA. Online gambling is almost incalculably vast in its revenue.
The amount that is wagered on legal sports bets during March Madness alone is reported to be in excess of 9 BILLION dollars. With a further 2.5 billion going on illegal betting.
It’s no wonder that so many states decided that it was time they got in on that sweet action.
MANY STATES HAVE ALREADY LEGALIZED SPORTS BETTING OR ARE IN THE PROCESS OF DOING SO AS A DIRECT RESULT
Nevada had previously been the only state in which a bettor could wager on the results of a sports game.
New Jersey changed all that.
The decision to make sports betting legal was not one that all states had to morally wrestle with for long. Within months of the decision, a number of states had already started allowing people to make safe and secure sports wagers and even more states are already following, or are set to follow soon.
The tax revenue potential alone must be making their heads spin. Let’s hope that the vast majority of all that money is invested in the infrastructure and improvement of struggling communities within those states where sports betting is legalized.
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DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR THAT
Each will need to weigh up the pros and cons of retail sports betting vs online sports betting and make its own judgement calls. Some may elect to limit sports betting to casino premises and there will be raging debates around mobile sports betting.
THE WORD REVOLUTION SEEMS APPROPRIATE
It is a total game-changer for the gambling industry in the United States and will change the landscape forever both metaphorically and, perhaps, literally.
Sports betting is clearly incredibly popular already right across the USA, it’s just not legally regulated or sanctioned everywhere. The repeal of PASPA has created a pathway for every state that chooses to dip its toes (and in some cases whole body we suspect) into the multibillion-dollar industry of legal sports betting.
THE STATES OF PLAY
Here at The Jump Hub we have produced a comprehensive list of each state and its current status regarding the sports betting bill.
For reference, any mention of ‘mobile sports betting’ is not related to hand-held devices (that’s what you thought, go on admit it. We did). Rather it refers to a situation where betting is not tied to ‘land-based’ casino premises and is sanctioned via mobile sportsbooks.
The situation is in a constant state of flux as each state struggles with its own bureaucracy and panders to conflicting interests, In the end, however, there is simply way too much money swilling around for this not to happen in almost all states at some point.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER THEN:
ALABAMA: NOT LEGAL
Alabama is one of the few remaining states that doesn’t even have a state lottery. Lawmakers are proposing a bill that will permit one to be introduced and allow statewide mobile wagering.
The state has exceptionally strong gaming aversions, but if they pass a bill in 2022, it would allow voters to approve these gaming options on their ballot papers.
The state has proposed multiple sports betting and other bills (including one to allow commercial casinos), the last one being in 2021.
So far all of them have failed
ALASKA: NOT LEGAL
In 2020, support was shown for a bill to legalize sports betting in Alaska.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to the proceedings and the bill expired in the same year as a result.
To date, no new sports betting bill has been proposed
Sports betting became legal in Arizona on April 15th 2021.
The associated legislation allows for up to 20 operators in Arizona.
The state’s first official sportsbook began operating in July 2021.
There are others in the pipeline but the state continues to prohibit mobile online wagering.
CALIFORNIA: NOT LEGAL
A number of bills have been put forward to the senate, but as yet none have been successful. A third sports betting bill is currently being proposed and rumours abound of an increasing likelihood it will pass.
Colorado legalized betting from May 1, 2020.
Multiple gambling operators are now permitted to operate in the state and residents are able to open online accounts and place bets.
Colorado also expanded the number and type of casino games it is now acceptable to offer. At the same time, the state also eliminated some gambling limits.
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On September 30th, 2021, sports betting officially became legal in Connecticut.
Delaware put the wheels in motion to fully legalize sports betting less than a month after the ruling. The state is looking to add additional locations to its existing number of three casinos. It has also begun operating sportsbooks and mobile betting.
Sports betting in Florida was temporarily approved and became legal.
Lawsuits have scuppered that and it is now it is awaiting another launch attempt.
Lawmakers in Florida approved sports betting in 2021. However, lawsuits in court have delayed the official beginning of betting in the state.
The matter involves countless millions of dollars and their potential distribution. Unsurprisingly, it has become complicated.
Three weeks into it being ‘full-steam-ahead’ a judge threw a wrench in the works. An agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe was deemed to be illegal. As a result, the online sports betting they had instigated was shut down on November 1st, 2021. The ongoing legal battle means that it is yet to return.
Watch this space…
GEORGIA: NOT LEGAL
Georgian lawmakers considered two bills that proposed legalizing sports betting in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Neither bill made it past the house but a new one is expected to be introduced again in 2022.
We will have to wait and see if the third time is a charm
HAWAII: NOT LEGAL
A bill was proposed in January 2019. It would have meant the introduction of regulated sports gambling in the form of a newly-established corporation.
The bill was denied.
IDAHO: NOT LEGAL
To date, no legislation regarding this issue has been proposed in Idaho.
The legislation required to allow sports betting in Illinois has already passed as of March 9, 2020.
Sports bets are now allowed, although in-state collegiate games are off-limits under the new law.
It makes gambling legal in a number of locations both retail sports betting and online.
Retail sports betting on both pro and college sports became legal in Indiana in September 2019. Online betting and mobile betting are also permitted. Indiana sports betting is now prevalent in the state.
Iowa introduced legal sports betting in 2019. Online sportsbooks began taking bets soon thereafter. Sports betting legislation in the state allows for betting on both pro and college sports.
KANSAS: NOT LEGAL
The Kansas legislature has heard no less than five bills that propose legalizing sports betting. The State House did not even consider the bill that was put forward in 2019.
All the subsequent ones have been unsuccessful.
KENTUCKY: NOT LEGAL
Kentucky has seen multiple sports gambling bills come and go. As yet there has been little to get excited about. There may be fresh attempts to introduce legal sports bets later in 2022. For now, it is business (or lack thereof) as usual and Kentucky sports betting is a distant dream.
Although sports wagering is not allowed in the form of mobile betting, sports wagering is legal at retail sportsbooks and casinos in Louisiana. There are rumours that mobile betting might also get the nod this year. Time will tell.
MAINE: NOT LEGAL
Were it not for a veto by the state’s governor, Maine would already have passed a law allowing in-person and mobile betting. This would have applied to both pro and college sports (with the exception of in-state colleges). The battle is not over, however, and sports betting remains a possibility. It’s still on the cards that it could be legalized in 2022. Watch this space.
Following the results of the 2020 election, Maryland legalized sports wagering.
The following year, casinos began allowing in-person sports betting.
MASSACHUSETTS: NOT LEGAL
A number of sports betting legalization bills were introduced in 2019. These included one that would allow residents anywhere in the state to take part in mobile betting.
This was not to be and the sports betting bill that would allow sports bettors to place wagers in-person at two brand-new in-state casinos was not even discussed at the Senate session.
In 2019, regulated sports betting was guaranteed when bills that allow for both sports betting and online gaming were signed into law in the state.
Casinos in the state started legal sports betting the following year in March 2020.
MINNESOTA: NOT LEGAL
Minnesota has two horse-racing tracks and 21 tribal casinos. A bill to introduce legal sports betting was proposed in 2019. It also included the ability for people to engage in online sports betting and mobile betting. The bill did not pass and the situation remains unchanged.
Mississippi enacted a law in 2017 that allowed for legal sports betting.
The first wagers were placed on August 1st, 2018 and history was made.
MISSOURI: NOT LEGAL
Several sports betting bills to introduce legal sportsbooks and allow sports wagers in Missouri have come and gone over the last few years. None of them has been approved as yet but there is still hope. They have stalled at the legislature level but may yet be addressed and passed. Keep your eyes on this one.
Montana became amenable to legal sports wagering in March 2020. State lottery-regulated sportsbooks offering legal sports betting are now available in a number of locations and it is possible to bet on professional sports teams.
Since the 2020 election, in-person betting is now legal in Nebraska. A bill that classified sports betting as ‘authorized games of skill’ made the difference and paved the way for sports wagering and fantasy sports. They also allowed casino games at Nebraska’s existing horse-racing tracks.
In March 1931, Nevada’s state legislature needed to respond to the population flight caused by the decline of its mines. The economy was in shambles (as it was everywhere at the beginning of the Great Depression). Their solution was to legalize gambling and, just for good measure, divorce.
This was a game-changing decision.
Although it attracted more than its fair share of organized crime and other unpleasant side-effects, Nevada flourished. The state raked in huge sums of money in tax revenues and it became the mecca for gambling fans all over the world.
As the undisputed entertainment capital of the USA, Las Vegas is the only place to be. Established in 1905, it is gaudy and never subtle.
If you want to see the best shows and eat your fill at amazing buffets then Vegas is for you. Its casinos and nightclubs are famous all over the world and it cannot be overstated how important Las Vegas has been in normalising legal gambling all over the USA.
The arguments about the moral vacuum it has the potential to create remain valid. But nobody failed to notice the amount of revenue it attracted and continues to do to this day.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: LEGAL
New Hampshire legalized sports betting in early 2020. The government agreed to a six-year contract with an online sportsbook, so mobile wagering is now acceptable throughout the state.
NEW JERSEY: LEGAL
The state of New Jersey advocated and lobbied for a long time to be given the right to introduce legalized sports gambling. The decision of the Supreme Court to execute a federal reversal and allow it was nothing short of momentous.
It is the reason that this list exists. Plain and simple.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that New Jersey did not rest on their laurels.
Once the decision was made they opened the state’s first sportsbooks and began to offer legalized sports wagering almost immediately.
Right or wrong, what happened as a result of New Jersey’s dogged determination to control their own destiny and create vast wealth for the state by legalizing sports gambling marks a historic moment in American history.
NEW MEXICO: LEGAL
The situation in New Mexico is a little confused and fuzzy at the time of writing. Sports betting isn’t explicitly forbidden under the state’s current laws. The Pueblo of Santa Ana tribe has opened a sportsbook at its in-state casino. Time will tell if it will stand without legal opposition or ramifications. For now, sports gambling is legal at five tribal casinos in total.
NEW YORK – LEGAL
New York actually passed a bill in 2013 that made sports gambling legal at the state level.
Even so, it didn’t open its first official sportsbook until July 2019.
Most of the existing gambling in New York was done in upstate casinos.
All that is about to change drastically as sports betting is legal and betting in the state will take off like a rocket.
As of Jan. 8, 2022, online mobile sports betting became legal in New York.
There are four online sports betting sites that will offer mobile betting in the state.
There are also five other sportsbooks that will be licensed in the state but are not available at the time of launch.
NORTH CAROLINA – LEGAL
Gambling in North Carolina is at the sole discretion of the Cherokee tribe and entirely under its control.
The state passed a bill in July 2019 that allows sports gambling (including horse racing) to be part of that empire. Sports betting began in North Carolina on March 18th 2021 and it has not looked back since.
NORTH DAKOTA – NOT LEGAL
A bill to legalize professional and collegiate sports betting appeared in 2019.
Lawmakers refused categorically and North Dakota does not look set to introduce any new gambling laws any time soon.
Sports betting in Ohio officially became legal in 2021. The wheels of government often turn excruciatingly slowly. Residents of Ohio won’t be able to place their first legal sports bets until the start of 2023 at the earliest.
Sports betting in Oklahoma is on the horizon after an agreement between two native tribes and the state government. Its introduction may take a while longer but is now inevitable.
In Oregon, legal sports betting has been in existence for a while. Limited sports betting legality already existed but was not enacted until 2019.
The first legal sports bet was at a casino sportsbook in 2018, just six months after the historic Supreme Court reversal.
Pennsylvania now sanctions online betting and mobile wagering state-wide.
RHODE ISLAND: LEGAL
Rhode Island was quick to open its first sportsbook just six months after the U.S Supreme Court’s decision. It currently offers sports gambling only at two in-state casinos, but online betting is soon to arrive and mobile wagering will also be permitted.
SOUTH CAROLINA: NOT LEGAL
Casino riverboats are the only places in South Carolina where people can gamble.
There were consecutive years of bills that would set the wheels in motion to allow sports gambling. At the time of writing there has been no movement in the situation but optimism remains high.
SOUTH DAKOTA: LEGAL
Technically, South Dakota now allows legalized sports betting. The restriction is that sports bettors must be present at one of four designated casinos in Deadwood. Online and mobile sports betting are not on the cards as yet. If you want to place an online sports bet then South Dakota is not the place to be just yet.
Their time will come.
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The Tennessee state legislature approved a sports betting bill in the spring of 2019 that allowed betting online and via mobile apps as of November the 1st, 2021.
TEXAS: NOT LEGAL
In 2021, Texas proposed a sports betting bill. The bill was not successful and sports betting continues to be prohibited in one of the most enthusiastic sports-loving states in the nation.
UTAH: NOT LEGAL
It’s not happening folks.
Incidentally, polygamy carries the same penalty as a traffic summons.
VERMONT: NOT LEGAL
Vermont still allows very little gambling. There was consideration for a proposed bill to legalize mobile sports wagering was in 2021, but the result was not positive and very little has changed.
Sports betting was legalized in Virginia in 2020 and sportsbook apps went live by the end of the year. Virginia subsequently approved casino gambling in four locations in the 2020 election.
In early 2020, Washington passed legislation that permits sports gambling at tribal casinos in-state. It does not have any provisions for mobile sports betting or online wagering at this point in time.
WASHINGTON D.C: LEGAL
Washington D.C has launched an app and website that facilitate sports wagering. The state lottery runs both of them in accordance with the amendment act of 2018.
WEST VIRGINIA: LEGAL
As an early proponent of change, West Virginia was the fifth state to legalize sports gambling in August 2015.
West Virginia now sanctions in-person gambling and online sports wagering.
An agreement is in place in Wisconsin. It allows for in-person and mobile app betting while at designated gaming locations.
On September the 1st, 2021, legal sports betting went live in Wyoming.
And that’s the state of play as it stands at the time of writing (27th January 2022)
There will undoubtedly be amendments to the situation and about-turns as the story unfolds.
Sports betting legislation and how to regulate sports betting are pretty hot topics all over the country these days.
Whether it be in-person at retail locations and casinos, online, mobile or otherwise, there have been many voices of opposition.
Whatever the reasons are why people raise objections, we understand that it is a contentious issue.
As gambling aficionados, we at The Jump Hub might seem to be biased in our assessments of whether it makes sense that sports betting is legal.
In fact, perhaps because of our intimate relationship with sports betting and its associated issues, we are all too keenly aware of the problems that out-of-control, rabid gambling can create and are happy to listen to debates on the subject.
There are certainly conversations to be had about the merits of in-person sports betting vs online sports betting and mobile wagering. Do physical casino premises keep the issue contained in one location and thereby reduce the potential damage that may be caused? What is that damage exactly? You will hear no arguments from us about the potential gambling has to ruin lives and cause untold misery.
BUT WAS KEEPING IT UNDERGROUND THE ANSWER?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to legalize and regulate the industry and then spend the money that is wasted every year trying to police the situation on rehabilitating and helping those people with problems?
BECAUSE, AS AMERICA KNOWS ALL TOO WELL, PROHIBITION DOESN’T WORK
It’s genuinely encouraging to see that so many states are coming to terms with the existence of gambling in our communities and society in general.
WHAT IS NOW ON TRIAL IS NOT THE ACTIVITY ITSELF
It is how the money made from sports betting is distributed and utilized.
If it is all syphoned away and disappears into so many already over-fat pockets then we all lose.
Communities will suffer and despair and misery will be rife.
IF STATES USE THAT TAX MONEY IN GOOD FAITH THEN THE EXPERIMENT WILL BE A SUCCESS
Shouldn’t the aim be to create a society where responsible gambling is facilitated and problem gambling is handled with empathy?
The milk of human kindness has been watered down pretty viciously of late in the ‘United’ States. How we handle the arrival of legalized gambling will tell us all we need to know about whether there is any hope of its return to full strength.
Since that decision about the fate of gambling in New Jersey, everything in that world has changed in the USA. The tide of gambling will wash over us like a tsunami.
IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN PART IN THE STORY
Where the story takes us next remains to be seen. Let’s hope that it is many years of responsible gambling that entertains and excites us. Not the darker underbelly that we all know lurks just below the surface.