What States Can You Legally Sports Bet?

Wondering what states you can legally bet on sports in? Here’s a quick rundown of the current landscape.

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Federal Laws

The federal government has not yet passed any legal sports betting laws. This means that, for the time being, states are free to create their own laws and regulations regarding sports betting. There are a few federal laws that do come into play, however. Let’s take a look at these laws and how they might affect sports betting in your state.

The Federal Wire Act

The Federal Wire Act was enacted in 1961 as a law to prevent members of organized crime from using telephone lines to place sports bets across state lines. The law was written specifically with sports betting in mind, and it outlaws the use of wire communications for the purpose of placing, receiving or accepting wagers on sporting events.

The Federal Wire Act does not make sports betting illegal, but it does make it illegal to use wire communications to place bets on sporting events. This means that if you want to bet on sports, you will need to do so in person at a legal sportsbook or through an online sportsbook that is licensed by a state gaming commission.

The Federal Wire Act does not apply to horse racing bets, but it does apply to all other types of sports betting. This includes bets on basketball, football, baseball, hockey, and any other sport where you can place a bet.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act made it illegal for financial institutions to process transactions related to online gambling. This had a significant impact on the ability of US residents to gamble online, as many payment processors pulled out of the market.

In 2011, the Department of Justice issued a memo clarifying that the act did not make online gambling illegal, but rather only made it illegal for financial institutions to process payments related to online gambling. This opened the door for individual states to pass their own laws regulating online gambling within their borders.

To date, only a handful of states have passed laws specifically regulating online gambling, but many more are considering doing so in the near future. It is currently legal to gamble online in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, and Pennsylvania is set to join them in 2018. Mississippi and West Virginia have also passed laws that will allow for online gambling within their borders, but these laws have not yet gone into effect.

State Laws

There are four states in the US where sports betting is legal – Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Each state has its own laws and regulations around sports betting, so it’s important to know what the rules are before you start placing bets. In this article, we’ll go over the state laws for sports betting in each of the four legal states.


The Nevada Legislature passed a bill in 1949 that allowed sports betting at Nevada casinos. The first sportsbooks in Nevada were opened in 1951. The state has had a monopoly on legal sports betting ever since.

New Jersey

In May 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a 1992 law that had effectively banned commercial sports betting in most states. As a result, states are now free to enact their own laws regulating sports betting.

New Jersey was one of the first states to take advantage of the new law, and it now offers legal sports betting at casinos, racetracks, and online. Bettors in New Jersey must be at least 21 years old, and bets can be placed on a wide variety of sports, including basketball, football, baseball, hockey, golf, and more.


The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act was signed into law on January 17, 2004 by then-Governor Ed Rendell. The Act authorized the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to issue licenses for slot machine gambling at 14 locations throughout the state. Pennsylvania became the second state to legalize and regulate slot machine gambling.

The first licenses were issued on December 20, 2006 to 3 racetrack casinos: Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack, Philadelphia Park Racetrack and Casino, and Presque Isle Downs Racetrack and Casino.

The fourth racetrack casino, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, opened on November 14, 2007. Table games were added to all casinos in 2010.

In 2017, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation authorizing the expansion of casino gambling in Pennsylvania by allowing for the construction of up to 10 new mini-casinos. The first mini-casino – Hollywood Casino York – opened in October 2018.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, sports betting is only allowed at the state’s two casinos, Twin River Casino and Tiverton Casino. The state lottery oversees sports betting in Rhode Island. Rhode Island was the second state to launch legal sports betting in 2019.

Other Considerations

Before we get into the list of states where sports betting is currently legal, there are a few other things to consider. Federal law prohibits sports betting across the United States, with a few exceptions. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) is the federal law that prohibits states from authorizing or licensing sports betting. There are a few notable exceptions to this law.

Tribal Casinos

Tribal casinos are also allowed to offer sports betting under the law. The majority of tribal casinos are located in California, Oklahoma, and Florida. There are also a number of tribal casinos located in other states with a smaller Native American population, such as Connecticut, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon.

Offshore Sportsbooks

Sports betting is currently only legal in Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options for people who want to bet on sports in other states. If you’re not in a state where sports betting is legal, you can bet with an offshore sportsbook.

Offshore sportsbooks are not subject to US laws and regulations, which means they can offer their services to Americans. However, it’s important to be aware that these sportsbooks are not regulated by the US government, so there is no guarantee that your money is safe. If you decide to bet with an offshore sportsbook, make sure you do your research to find a reputable book.

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