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Which US States Have Legalized Sports Betting?

Date Posted: September 10, 2018

Last May 14, the United States Supreme Court lifted the 1992 federal law that tackled the prohibition of sports gambling in the US. Four months after, Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia passed their bills and legalized sports betting within their state.

These five states anticipated the US Supreme Court’s decision and acted quickly on passing the bill for sports betting. After establishing sportsbooks in several platforms, these states have garnered over a million in wager revenue.


For decades, Nevada was the only state that legally accepted sports betting in the US. The state has fully established and successful casinos way before the other states started accepting wagers. But according to a market research by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, it is predicted that New Jersey will overtake Nevada in sports gambling by 2021. The report said:

“We believe a combination of factors could push the nascent New Jersey sports betting market past the more mature Nevada market by as soon as 2021.”

The research company also stated that the factors that can lead to New Jersey overtaking Nevada in terms of sports betting are: “a shift in major card-issuing bank attitudes toward processing sports betting transactions, ‘very high’ rates of black market recapture, and cross-selling synergies between online sports betting and online casino gaming.” And by 2021, it is foreseen that New Jersey will make US$442 million while Nevada will make only US$410 million.


After Nevada’s legalization, Delaware came next and started accepting sports wagers last June. Delaware’s Governor John Carney even placed a US$10 bet on the baseball team Philadelphia Phillies to win against the Chicago Cubs in support of the newly lifted ruling.

Now reaching their second month since inception, Delaware’s three sportsbooks: Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway and Casino have already had an estimated of US$23 million in sports wagers. Unfortunately, these wagers are only from physical sportsbooks as mobile sports betting is not legal yet in Delaware.

New Jersey

Back in 2011, the federal government was against the idea of New Jersey operating sports betting legally even though the state’s voters have already approved. This led New Jersey to suing the federal government in regards to the sports betting ban within the state. Thanks to New Jersey’s lawsuit, the Supreme Court ruling was declared unconstitutional last May. New Jersey quickly filed its bills, and just in July, its sports betting market started operation.

Unlike Delaware and Mississippi, New Jersey allows mobile sports betting. It has companies like DraftKings and FanDuel developing sports betting apps that are legal only when bets are placed within the state.

| Related: Resorts Casino Hotel Now Offers On-Property and Mobile Sportsbook


Last August 1, the Gold Strike and the Beau Rivage were the ones that spearheaded sports betting in in Mississippi. Eighteen other casinos have followed their footsteps, and after a month of sports betting operations, Mississippi casinos have received a total of almost US$10 million from sports wagers.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission made it clear that all sports wagers shall be placed on in-person sportsbooks. Mobile sports betting may not be legal yet, but the local government of Mississippi is still putting it under consideration. Meanwhile, the state also takes bets on professional and college games from instate school like Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

West Virginia

As the fifth state to regulate legal sports betting, West Virginia started accepting sports wagers on August 30. During its opening weekend, the state had made taxable revenue of more than US$320,000. But reports say that all of West Virginia’s five casinos are expected to bring about US$5.5 million in sports wagering by the end of the first year of opening sports betting in-state.

On the other hand, in-person sports betting is available only at the Charles Town Races and Hollywood Casino. Although possible expansion of the betting markets is still in the works, mobile sports betting is now on offer.

Out of the 50 states in America, why is it that so far, only five have allowed sports betting within their states? Jennifer Roberts, associate director of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, mentioned that some states want to take things slower and to wait for what will happen in other states. She said:

“I think most people thought it would be, you know, probably like 20 states coming out with legislation and it would be passed immediately in several states. But I think that some jurisdictions are taking it a little slower.”

Roberts also thinks that within 10 years, around 30 states will legalize sports betting, not to mention that there are some states now working on getting sports betting legalized as well.

Pennsylvania, for one, has already passed its bill. It will get sports betting into action by the end of this year or by early 2019. New York and Rhode Island have also passed their bills seeking to allow sports betting in-state. Other jurisdictions such as Michigan, California, and Illinois have made their bill proposals as well. Meanwhile, states such as Washington DC, Alabama, and Colorado have not made any moves yet on getting into sports betting.

|Related: Legalized US Sports Betting to Use a Federal Framework Soon?