While all 50 US States can legally have sports betting, the legislative slog to get a system up and running is becoming more challenging as more states attempt to make it so. As of today, legal sports bets can be made in 13 states, with another half-dozen close behind. But the ins and outs of how the systems will run are open to wide variation.
The legislative process at the state level means many voices will be heard, and many points of view will be — or must be — included to get a bill over all of the legal and political hurdles. To date, only 13 states have successfully begun to take sports wagers, and the rules on how, what, when, and where a bet may be placed vary widely. The numbers are slowly moving up as more states recognize the monetary benefits of legal sports betting.
The First 13 States
You can wager on sports today in these states:
Tennessee (mobile only)
Betting on your phone, tablet, laptop or computer might be the most difficult aspect of state-by-state sports betting to regulate. Even before the federal government got out of the way in 2018, most gamblers could place wagers with offshore sites. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia do not have anti-online gambling legislation. Courts have ruled that placing bets with sites outside of the US is legal. So, sports bettors have been placing bets online for many years. Now, states may establish online or mobile gambling sites within the own borders.
What would seem like more sports-betting options might turn out to be less. Some states are trying to legalize mobile betting, but limit it to the state-approved site or, at least, to geo-located sites within the state. In effect, these states want to outlaw non-US based mobile gambling sites. However, there is no federal law on which to base such restrictions.
The selling point for in-state mobile sites is security. The state will make sure sites are bonded and winnings are paid out. The main detractor to the in-state site is taxes. Just as in a casino, federal and state taxes are withheld from gambling winnings above a certain, state-determined amount.
Nne states have mobile betting
- the Rhode Island mobile program is currently under legal challenge
- Tennessee has only mobile wagering, no land based sites
States with Legislation Approved Awaiting Implementation
Seven states have passed sports-betting legislation, but are working out the details of implementation. Most commonly, the missing pieces of the gaming puzzle involve setting up a state gaming commission, issuing licenses, and/or setting regulations for what can and cannot be wagered on.
The seven states that are almost there
No bets have been placed yet in these states, but several could be up and running before the year is out. Illinois, Colorado, and Connecticut are very close to launching, Montana is far, far away.
States with Apparently No Interest in Sports Betting
Eight states have no bills in process, nor any noticeable spokesperson or organization pushing legal sports betting legislation. This could change as legislators watch valuable tax dollars flow to neighboring states with active sports-betting alternatives.
The eight holdouts are
Remaining States are Actively Exploring Legal Sports Betting
The District of Columbia and the 21 states not mentioned above currently have legislation proposed, in committee, or under study. In the fall 2019 legislative sessions, new or updated bills have been introduced in nine of these states. Estimates are that between 50% and 60% of states will have some form of sports betting options by 2022.