United States: not so united on sports betting


In much the same way that online gambling in the US varies from one state to the next – with comparison sites such as https://www.captaingambling.com/ offering a detailed overview of where and how one can seek entertainment – so does the context of sports betting differ wildly in separate states. 

Until 2018, the situation of sports betting in the US was pretty clear – a federal ban under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibited sports betting, with the exception of four states that had previously allowed sports betting within their borders, namely Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. 

But May 2018 changed everything. Having already heard oral arguments in late 2017, on May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the ban in full by a vote of six to three – thus allowing other states to offer legal sports betting on college and professional sports. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” Justice Samuel Alito said

Since then, the sports betting landscape in the United States has changed dramatically. Nevada is a mature market, Delaware offers single-game betting on a number of sports at three casinos, and New Jersey passed the sports betting bill in June, 2018. Mississippi, West Virginia all allow sports betting, as does New Mexico under a gaming compact. In Pennsylvania, the Hollywood Casino booked the first legal sports bets in November, 2018, while Rhode Island, Arkansas, New York, Iowa, Oregon, Indiana and New Hampshire have all booked their first legal sports bets in the past years. 

This year, another four states have welcomed legal sports betting: Illinois, Michigan, Montana and Colorado. 

As for the other states, it is a mixed bag. Washington DC has legalised sports betting, but the first bet hasn’t been booked yet. The same goes for Tennessee, North Carolina, Washington, Virginia and Oklahoma. 

States like Maine, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, California, Ohio, North and South Dakota, Arizona, Hawaii, Texas, Georgia, Vermont, Alabama, Florida, Alaska, Wyoming and Nebraska are all in the process of legalising sports betting, although all at different stages. The same cannot be said for Idaho and Wisconsin, who have not yet publicly announced any bills for sports betting legalisation. As for Utah, it is unlikely that this state will consider legalising sports betting any time soon, as anti-gambling is written into the state’s constitution. 

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