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States With Sports Betting

In the United States, sports betting is a highly regulated activity. Unlike the other forms of legal gambling, individual U.S. states were not given the option of deciding whether they wanted to offer sports betting or not. Instead, a few federal laws have been put into place in order to regulate gambling on sports throughout the US. Because of this, there are only a few states with legal land-based sports betting options; we’ll get more into those a little bit later on. But, why does it seem like almost everybody is betting on sports or talking about wagering if it is so highly regulated and only limited to a few places?

That is a great question and we know that it can be quite confusing when trying to figure this out on your own. Luckily, GamblingStates.com is here to give you everything one would need to know about states with sports betting, and how those not currently in those states place bets. This guide to U.S. sports betting will paint an accurate picture of the sports betting landscape in the United States and prepare readers to be able to safely wager on sports within the boundaries of what is legally and socially acceptable.

States With Land-Based Sports Betting

Because of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (more below), there are only four states with land-based sports betting. Of those four, only two are currently operating as states with legal sports betting. Nevada and Delaware are currently the only states in the US that can offer sports betting to residents at land-based, state-licensed locations, however Oregon and Montana are both allowed if either state so chooses to regulate sports wagering. Check out our brief guide to betting in each state below, and get a better picture of what is, and what isn’t allowed.

Sports Betting In Nevada

Nevada has been a state with legal gambling since the 1930’s. Lawmakers fully legalized sports betting in the late 40’s, and since then, Nevada has pretty much been the only place in the US with legal, regulated sports betting. In Nevada, only casinos and stand-alone betting shops can host sportsbooks. Bars and taverns cannot offer sports betting action. These land-based sportsbooks do have corresponding online sites that players can use, however, so there’s no stopping you from walking into a bar and using the casino’s sports betting app.

What Cities In Nevada Have Sportsbooks?

Sports betting is legal throughout the state, so technically any city in Nevada could offer sports betting. The three cities with a large number of sportsbooks, however, are Las Vegas, Reno, and Henderson, with a few in Spotlight and other remote areas. Las Vegas has an excess of over 60 sports betting operations inside their casinos and is far and away the largest sports betting city in Nevada. Reno has a handful owned by casino corporations that are also based in Vegas.

Wager Types Available At Nevada Sportsbooks

Nevada is the only state that is allowed to offer single-game wagering in the US at land-based, state-licensed facilities. Because of this, the wager types available at Nevada sportsbooks are practically limitless. You have your choice of simple straight bets, like moneylines, spreads, and totals. But then you also have the choice of pleasers or teasers, round robins, and parlays. Propositions, futures, and specials are also available for nearly every event. Game specific wagers, like first five innings for baseball or first period for hockey are all available as well. The variety of wager types available depend on the popularity of the game and the sport, but generally, Nevada will be able to offer a number of different wager types to choose from.

Sports Betting In Delaware

Delaware is the only other state with legal land-based sports betting at this time. In 1976, Delaware legalized NFL parlays of three or more teams through the lottery. It lasted for a year before it was discontinued. By the time PASPA rolled around, Delaware still had the law on the books and was thus grandfathered into the law. It wasn’t until 2009 that the state revived its sports betting. Now, racetracks and casinos can offer variations of parlays during the NFL season only.

What Cities In Delaware Have Sportsbooks?

There are three cities in Delaware that have sportsbooks available. They are located at the three racetracks in the state. Dover Downs in Dover, Harrington Raceway & Casino in Harrington, and Delaware Park Racetrack in Wilmington.

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
1131 N Dupont Hwy, Dover, DE 19901

Harrington Raceway & Casino
18500 S Dupont Hwy, Harrington, DE 19952

Delaware Park Racetrack
777 Delaware Park Blvd, Wilmington, DE 19804

Wager Types Available At Delaware Sportsbooks

Delaware sports betting is limited to just three or more team parlay cards during the NFL season. Parlays can consist of bets made on point spreads, totals, and moneylines to determine a winning card, and can contain anywhere from 3 to 12 contingencies. Delaware’s parlay cards are offered at the three racetrack casinos in the state.

Sports Betting Laws In The United States

As we touched on above in the opener, the major laws that restrict land-based sports betting in the U.S. come from the federal courts. Below, we are going to talk a little more about those laws briefly, starting with the law that has the biggest impact on land-based sports wagering. Before we get started, it should be known that each state currently regulating sports gambling has its own laws that determine what types of wagers are permitted, the age to bet on sports, and more. If you don’t find what you are looking for here, then please check our guides for individual U.S. states for further assistance.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992

PASPA, otherwise known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, is a federal law that prevents states from regulating sports betting. The law was passed in 1992, at which time there were four states that had already legalized gambling on sports in one form or another. PASPA was altered to grandfather those states in (Nevada, Delaware, Montana & Oregon) and allow what they had already legalized, but nothing more. This federal law is what prevents states from being able to create legislation that would legalize sports betting, and has been the subject of several lawsuits alleging the law is unconstitutional.

The Federal Wire Act of 1961

An antiquated law passed in the early 1960’s, the Federal Wire Act was put in place to inhibit the bookmaking abilities of organized crime families in the U.S. Essentially, the Wire Act made the electronic transmission of any information related to making a wager across state lines illegal, but only for the businesses and bookmaking operations accepting the wager. At the time of its passage, the only forms of electronic communication were telegraph or telephone, but as technology has advanced with the advent of the internet, using a computer or similar devices have also been included by the U.S. Department of Justice. It should be noted, however, the Wire Act does nothing to prevent regulated offshore betting sites from taking wagers from US residents.

Which States Have No Sports Betting?
Every state except Nevada and Delaware technically have no sports betting. PASPA prevents states from legalizing sportsbooks, making it impossible to expand land-based sports betting in the country. PASPA only prevents states from legalizing sports betting, though; it does not prevent residents of states from using online, offshore sportsbooks.

Can I Bet On Sports In International Waters?
Once in international waters, you will no longer be bound to the laws of the United States. That doesn’t mean you can do whatever you like, however the laws that regulate and restrict sports betting in the U.S. (mainly PASPA) do not apply. In theory, you could place a sports wager with a bookmaker, say for instance on a casino cruise, if you can find one that offers sports betting.

What is RAWA?
RAWA stands for Restoration of America’s Wire Act and is a bill which aims to extend the power of the Wire Act to apply to numerous forms of online gambling, and not just sports wagering. In December 2011, the U.S. DoJ ruled the Wire Act of 1961 would only apply to sports wagering, however if RAWA were to pass, forms of online gaming including online poker and even state-legalized casino gaming would become illegal in the eyes of the United States. Opponents argue RAWA strips power from the states, much like PASPA for sports betting, and violates the 10th Amendment.

What Will Happen If The Supreme Court Decides In Favor Of New Jersey’s Sports Betting Case?
If SCOTUS decides in favor of New Jersey, they will be able to regulate sports betting in the casinos. More than that though, it would open the door for other states to challenge PASPA and implement their own legal sports betting. SCOTUS’s decision will either close the door on expanded sports betting throughout the US or kick it wide open.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Bet On Sports?
In both states that currently have regulated land-based sports betting, Nevada and Delaware, the age to legally place a wager is set at 21 years old. Penalties for underage wagering include but are not limited to: forfeiture of wager, state issued fines, and/or temporary or permanent ban from the property which houses the sportsbook. Online sports betting sites that accept U.S. residents vary between 18 and 21 years old; in states with gambling, sports betting sites typically default to the general gaming age as determined by the player’s home state.

Do I Have To Pay Taxes On Sports Betting Winnings?
You should always keep track of your wins and losses, no matter the form of gambling, and pay the appropriate taxes on any profit. With that being said, unlike large amounts of money won in a casino on a slot machine or similar game, a bookmaker will not take any taxes from your winnings before paying you. This leaves it on the player to keep their own records and handle their own taxes, however any money won with an offshore bookmaker will NOT be reported to the IRS.

Online Sports Betting In The United States

So, if sports betting is currently restricted to just two states in the United States, how is it that Americans wager over $150 billion per year on sports?

Luckily for those living in the U.S. outside of Nevada, there are other options which will allow them to wager on whatever they want without much, if any, restriction. Online, offshore sports betting sites are available all around the country and are oftentimes much more convenient than land-based sportsbooks even if you live in the states where it’s available. Online sports betting is quickly becoming the favored way for American bettors to wager on their favorite players, games, and teams.

In reality, betting on sports online is actually completely legal when you use an online, offshore sportsbook. This is because federal law cannot prohibit the use of overseas business, nor can it dictate what those business owners do. Because of this, most offshore sports betting websites are available in every state, and even in the states that have expressly forbidden online gambling, because they know that residents in those states will not get in any trouble for using their services.

There are currently eight states that have laws that prohibit the use of online gambling sites, including online sports wagering forums. These states are Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. We do not condone nor do we endorse breaking the law. That being said, none of these states have ever prosecuted players for using online gambling sites. So it is up to you if you’d like to risk it. All other states can be considered states with legal gambling when it comes to online sports betting.