The State of Online Sports Betting in the USA Today

March 4, 2021 cg-withdrawals

Could 2021 finally be the year that a real breakthrough is made?

First of all, please be aware that all information contained in this article is subject to change at short notice. 2021 appears to be the year when a significant number of states will finally create laws that will allow online gambling in some form.


Back in 2018, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. That law made it impossible for all states other than Nevada to offer state-approved legal online sports betting – a ludicrous situation that should have been reviewed and revoked much sooner.

Let’s put it this way – Americans clearly enjoy placing bets on their favorite sports teams and players. Statistics show that a record 26 million American adults decided to make a wager on the outcome of the Super Bowl last year. Just think about that number for a second – it represents way over one in ten Americans who are old enough to vote!


And how much did those punters bet? Oh, only a measly $6.8 BILLION…. just think about the tax revenue on a number like that! With that in mind, It’s easy to see why many states are keen to begin offering online sports betting – a quiet revolution is already in action across America, and 2021 could well be the tipping point if a decent portion of the proposed legislation makes it onto the statute books.



The Situation as it Stands Today

There are currently fourteen states with legalized online sports betting in the USA, which is a nice enough number, however, there is clearly a long way to go. Here’s a breakdown of the states which currently allow online sports betting in some form, but as you’ll soon find out, there are huge differences in the way each state has chosen to implement their legislation. There are massive differences in opinions on gambling In different US states, which is probably why no attempts have been made to legislate the issue at the federal level.



US States With Legalized Online Sports Betting in Full


Colorado approved online sports betting in late 2019 but only recently actually Colorado gambling laws began to grant licenses so gaming companies could actually launch their online sportsbooks.


The District of Columbia supposedly has legalized online sports betting, but there is no market as such – only the state government-controlled GamBetDC sportsbook is available, and they are well known for offering poor odds on an even poorer selection of markets. On the other hand, there is a thriving retail sportsbook market with many competing sportsbooks, which are unsurprisingly much more popular than the government-sanctioned monopoly that is GamBetDC.


Indiana has a much more normal setup, which began in October 2019 with the launch of Draftkings, BetRivers and FanDuel. Many more competing books have popped up in the meantime, and the Indiana marketplace is proving extremely popular with punters and bringing in huge tax revenues for the state government.


Iowa began offering legal online sports betting in August 2019. At present, in Iowa, you are required to register at a local licensed casino to receive your online betting license, which is required when registering at local sportsbooks.


Michigan is one state that got things right, and it wasn’t long after they passed a Michigan law (in December 2019) permitting online sports betting that a booming market quickly became established with top names such as BetMGM, William Hill, and the Golden Nugget competing with many more great operators.


Mississippi is another state that initially seemed hungry for a slice of that delicious gambling tax revenue, but this Mississippi law was extremely restrictive and means you have to actually be on casino property to place an online bet… kind of defeats the point doesn’t it?


An attempt by the state legislature to allow legal online sports betting anywhere in the state in 2019 died without the bill even receiving a hearing. The state is well aware that permitting bets from anywhere on a smartphone would generate considerably more tax revenue, and the gaming companies currently working with the casinos are all major brands who likely have already created the necessary software ready for the moment when things eventually change – 2021 could well be the year.


New Hampshire passed legislation allowing up to five companies to offer online sportsbook services within the state, but then effectively accepted a bribe from Draft Kings who offered them 51% of their revenue if they could be granted permission to be the sole operator in the state – a fantastic example of how corrupt America can be at times!


The situation is still preferable to that in Washington DC, however, as Draft Kings are at least a well respected operator (when they are not offering bribes) and offer competitive odds as well as both a professionally designed website and an excellent mobile app.


Nevada is the home of Las Vegas, and has long enjoyed special status when it comes to all things gambling related. They were exempt from the PAPSA law, meaning online sports betting has been possible within this state for a long time. For some reason, you do still need to register in-person at a casino office before you can begin to place online bets.


New Jersey  has become perhaps the most liberal of all US states with regards to online gambling. The state was instrumental in pushing for the scrapping of the PAPSA law, so it’s unsurprising that they began to create a robust online sportsbook industry as soon as possible with names such as Yahoo! Sports, FanDuel and Draftkings, as well as all of the major casino companies from Atlantic City.


Online casino and poker rooms are also legal and extremely popular here. New Jersey’s setup is pretty much analogous to that of the UK and other Western Markets where online gambling is a regular pastime enjoyed by a large percentage of the adult population.


Oregon is another state that chose to legalize a monopoly operated by the state lottery rather than a real online sportsbook market. You’ll need the Oregon-specific Scoreboard mobile app which was released in 2019 in order to place any online bets.


Pennsylvania is another very liberal state when it comes to online gambling. Their first sportsbooks went online in 2018 and the state boasts a thriving marketplace. They also permit online casino gambling and poker rooms too. The state has made $864,577,547 in tax revenues from their legal gambling market since its launch, with sportsbooks in particular now earning the state almost $15 million every month.


Rhode Island decided to legalize online sports betting in March 2019, but all wagers must be placed through Sportsbook Rhode Island, which is actually operated as part of a partnership with the well-known bookmaker William Hill. It’s a poor situation for sure, but at least the site and mobile apps are of high quality and offer decent prices on all of the popular markets.


Tennessee looked like they might go all the way at one point and fully legalize online gambling but lost their nerve somewhere along the way and decided to authorize online sports betting only. They collected over $28 million in tax revenues during just their first weekend, which must surely have raised a few eyebrows in cash-strapped states currently pondering on whether to pass their own online gambling laws.


West Virginia have currently granted online sportsbook licenses to FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, William Hill and Golden Nugget, but may well decide to award more licenses in the future. Online casino gaming and poker are also legal here, but regulations are tough and have caused several operators to choose not to set up shop within the state. It’s unknown if the state has any plans to change their approach to this at any time in the near future.



What Next for Online Sports Betting in the USA?


The huge success in states such as Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia that have approved all forms of online gambling and generated huge tax revenues has not gone unnoticed. Nevertheless, we are far more likely to see a large number of states decide to legalize only online sports betting for the time betting in 2021.


Laws are currently in progress in fifteen more states to allow some form of online gambling, with many of these laws expected to be passed in 2021. American’s have a deep-rooted issue with gambling for some reason that seems very difficult to overcome with some state legislatures. Just as many states currently have legal cannabis as currently have online gambling – that really does show just how badly gambling is viewed in some parts of America.


We may soon have a situation where more Americans can go and purchase legal cannabis than can place a bet using their smartphone on the next NFL game – as someone from outside of the USA, this just seems like madness! Let’s hope that things do change for the better in 2021, and the majority of America finally catches up with the rest of the Western World when it comes to online gambling – it really is about time!

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