In What States Is Sports Gambling Legal?

The United States has a complicated history with gambling, with different states taking different approaches to the issue. As of 2019, sports gambling is legal in a handful of states, with more likely to follow suit in the near future. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the states where sports gambling is currently legal, and what the prospects are for other states to join them.

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Federal Law

The federal government has never passed a law that specifically addresses sports gambling. However, there are a few federal laws that come into play when sports gambling is taking place. The most relevant law is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. This law makes it illegal to bet on sports in most states.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is a federal law that prohibits state-sponsored sports gambling. The law was enacted in 1992 and, since then, only four states – Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon – have been exempted from the ban.

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA as unconstitutional, opening the door for individual states to legalize and regulate sports betting. Since the ruling, several states have passed laws to allow sports gambling, and many more are considering doing so in the near future.

State Law

As of May 2019, nine states have legalized sports gambling (Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and New York). Most other states are considering legalization. Each state has its own laws governing sports gambling.


The state of Nevada has been the only state in the US with legal sports betting since 1949. The law allowing sports gambling was passed in 1931, but it wasn’t until 1949 that the first sports book opened in Las Vegas. Since then, sports betting has become a strong part of the state’s economy, with billions of dollars wagered each year.

In recent years, there have been calls for other states to legalize sports betting, but so far Nevada remains the only state where it is legal. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that many states already have gaming laws on the books that would need to be amended in order to allow sports betting. Additionally, there is significant opposition to legalization from professional and amateur sports leagues, who argue that it would lead to increased temptation for athletes to engage in point-shaving and other types of corruption.

For now, Nevada remains the only state in America where you can legally bet on sporting events. However, given the amount of money that is wagered on sports illegally each year, it seems unlikely that this will remain the case for much longer.


In May of 2009, the Delaware Legislature passed a bill legalizing sports betting in the state. The following year, three casinos in the state – Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway, and Delaware Park – began offering sports betting.

The law allows bets on professional and collegiate sporting events, but does not allow bets on high school sporting events or any events that take place within the state of Delaware. Bets are also not allowed on Delaware college teams or any team playing a Delaware college team outside of the state.

New Jersey

In 1978, New Jersey became the first state to offer legal betting on sports. The state authorized the creation of casino-operated sportsbooks in Atlantic City, and residents quickly began placing bets on everything from football to basketball.

Today, sports gambling is still legal in New Jersey, and residents can place bets at the state’s casinos or online through licensed operators. The state also offers a variety of legal online lottery games, and residents can purchase tickets for draw games or instant-win scratch-offs.

Sports betting is also legal in neighboring Pennsylvania, which launched its first sportsbooks in November 2019.


In the United States, sports gambling is only legal in Nevada. There are a handful of other states that have tried to legalize sports gambling, but as of right now, only Nevada has been successful. This could change in the future, but for right now, if you want to gamble on sports, you’ll have to do it in Nevada.

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