Michael Tradford
Last Update:
December 1, 2021
This author was thoroughly tested and approved by the experts at before joining the editorial board to ensure a high content quality.
Author Bio:
Michael was Marketing Director in Atlantic City and worked in the casino industry for several years before shifting over to numerous newspapers in New York and Chicago working his way up to Editor-in-Chief. His focus areas are mainly in the fields of sports, gambling, and politics. He has a Marketing Degree, visited Columbia University during his time in New York and is now Editor-in-Chief at AmericaGambles.
Michael was Marketing Director in Atlantic City and worked in the casino industry for several years before shifting over to numerous newspapers in New York and Chicago working his way up to Editor-in-Chief. His focus areas are mainly in the fields of sports, gambling, and politics. He has a Marketing Degree, visited Columbia University during his time in New York and is now Editor-in-Chief at AmericaGambles.

Online Sports Betting: Is it Legal in the USA?

Prior to registering with online sportsbooks, many sports bettors worry about the legality of their betting actions. This is because Online sports betting in the USA is not totally accepted and not totally rejected. It’s, therefore, safe to say online sports betting isn’t fully legal and neither is it illegal in the US. This “half” status makes it quite complex for online sports bettors, especially the newbies. Sports bettors considering the legality of sports betting need to ponder on certain factors, such as the Federal and State online sports betting laws, gaming laws and ensure they comply with the legal age for online sports betting.

Everything you need to know about Online Sports Betting
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  • Legality depends on the age limit and the State legislations

  • The PASPA initially prohibited sports betting in the USA.

  • The Supreme Court in 2018 repealed the PASPA

Legality of Online Sports Betting

The legality of sports betting in the U.S. can be broadly divided into two.

Legal Age Requirement

The first sort of legal requirement is the legal age requirement. You need to be above the minimum age for online sports betting. The legal designated sports betting age could vary based on the state you reside. In the US, certain states set the minimum age to 18 years of age, whereas the standard age in most states in the US is 21 years. This is hardly a hurdle as most sports bettors are adults. However, for the younger sports bettors, since the legislation may vary, you need to find out the permitted age to know whether you can partake in legal online betting. Most designated ages are sort of permanent, however, this requirement is simply a matter of time. You can find out more about the minimum age designated by your state of residence and others which permit online sports betting here, minimum betting age for online sports betting.

State Legality Requirement

This is the major hurdle that comes with online sports betting.

Whenever sports betting is mentioned, 3 legislations (2 legislations and a Supreme Court judgment) that are significant include the Wire Act of 1961, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 and the Supreme Court judgment of 2018.

Wire Act: The Wire Act makes it illegal for wagering to be carried out by people across the country or state lines. This is why geolocation devices are used to ensure only residents of a state can partake in legal online sports betting in that state.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA): The PASPA made it unlawful to bet on sports in the United States. However, the PASPA law was recently overturned by the decision of the Supreme Court in 2018 which gave states the independent choice to legalize sports betting.

The Supreme Court Decision of 2018: Recently, based on the Supreme Court decision of 2018 which was given in favor of New Jersey, states in the U.S. can now determine whether they want sports betting to be legal or not. Therefore, while some states forbid online sports betting, there are certain states that permit their residents to engage in legal online sports betting.

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The following states permit online sports betting:

1. Nevada

In the U.S, Nevada is among the states that permits online sports betting for its residents. There are various online sportsbooks that offer Nevada gamblers an opportunity to bet legally. Among the major online sportsbooks include William Hill, MGM Sports etc. You have quite a number available to you, therefore you should check out the various available platforms before you make a selection. You have a wide variety of sports to make wagers on online sportsbooks, such as Auto Racing, National Football League games, Baseball games, Basketball, E-sports, Golf, Hockey, Horse Racing, Rugby, Soccer, Tennis amidst other popular sports. The legal sports betting age for Nevada residents is 21 years of age and above.

2. New Jersey

New Jersey can be regarded as the leader of the pack when it comes to legal online sports betting. This is because it was the historic win by New Jersey in the Supreme Court in 2018 that gave the States the authority to determine whether online sports betting was legal or not. Although online sports betting is legal in NJ, there is a requirement. In New Jersey, for an online sportsbook to be regarded as legal, such online sportsbook must have a land-based establishment (could be casinos or horse tracks), therefore it’s impossible for just any company to start up online sports betting in New Jersey. Some notable online sportsbooks in New Jersey include Sugarhouse sportsbook, playMGM, Golden Nugget Sportsbook, BetAmerica, FanDuel, Resorts Sportsbook among many others. All of them are legal, meaning they have land-based establishments and can be consulted where customers are faced with difficulty while using the online sportsbooks. New Jersey residents not only have a wide variety to select from, but also many possible sports to bet online, thanks to the competition between the various online sport books. Whether it’s Football, Basketball, E-sports. Rest assured you can make bets safely as they’re regulated by New Jersey itself.

3. Pennsylvania

Online sports betting is legal in Pennsylvania. Online Pennsylvania sportsbook betting got launched in May 2019. The sports books that offer online sports betting in Pennsylvania include Sugarhouse Sportsbook PA (the first to test its online sports betting in Pennsylvania), Parx Sportsbook PA and Bet Rivers Sportsbook, both of which also joined the Pennsylvania online sports betting scene in June, 2019 as well as the FanDuel Sportsbook which joined in July, 2019.

4. West Virginia

Online sports betting recently became legal in West Virginia. The sportsbooks that offer online sports betting in West Virginia include FanDuel Sportsbook as well as DraftKings Sportsbook which both launched in August 2019.

5. Mississippi

Technically, online sports betting is allowed in Mississippi. However, it’s operated in a different form from the conventional online sports betting as carried out in the other states above. In Mississippi, sports betting can be done at online casino legal only when you’re at its licensed land-based casino. The legal age is 21 years and older.

Online sport bettors from some of these states, such as New Jersey are usually required to download geolocation software to their PCs or Macs to ensure they’re within these states when betting. Therefore, while in these states, betting with sportsbooks which are outside the state or offshore are deemed illegal

6. Illinois

Sports betting was regarded as unlawful in Illinois, especially after the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) made sports betting illegal in nearly all U.S. states in 1992. However, the PASPA was reversed by the recent Supreme Court decision in May 2018 which was given in favor of New Jersey. The significance of the judgment means any state can independently legislate on sports betting. In the state of Illinois, certain bills as regards sports betting have been drafted but debates are still ongoing about the various forms of sports betting that should be permitted (online gambling included). In Illinois, there are no legal online sports betting sites within the state, however, residents can make use of offshore online sportsbooks, this will be at your own risk as such online sportsbooks are not bound by United States regulations. Therefore, in Illinois, online sports betting can’t be accessed locally but can be accessed internationally. The same goes for some other States in the US which are still deliberating on the process of making certain forms of sports betting legal and do not expressly forbid sports betting, such as Puerto Rico.

You should note that this State legality requirement is not based on State of origin but State of residence. This requirement is a matter of location and place, therefore, moving from a state that prohibits online sports betting and playing in a neighboring state that permits it is a smart way to circumvent this requirement. More and more states are changing their stance on the legality of sports betting.

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Where to access these legal online betting sites?

For those sports bettors who have been able to scale through the 2 legal requirements above, the next issue becomes where to access the available legal sports betting websites in the U.S. We’ve helped categorize the available legal sports betting sites based on their States. Therefore, we’ve gone through the tough work for you. On our sports betting comparison, you have a rich variety of legal sports betting websites offered to you. Simply check out the state of residence, scroll through the available online betting sites listed and select your preferred online sportsbook.

After selecting your preferred website, in accordance with its Privacy Policy, the website may request you to allow use of cookies, accept this to progress. When you register on the website, put in a valid email address, your password and fill in other requested information. It is advisable to also read the terms and conditions of the websites you select so as to understand its content. Most of them offer live chats in English or give you the possibility to contact them through their emails or social media handles such as Facebook or Twitter so whenever you need help or support, you can always communicate with the customer service agents through these various platforms.

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Legality of online Sports betting is subject to each State
It would be erroneous to say online sports betting is illegal or that it’s entirely legal. With the supreme court judgment in favor of New Jersey, online sports betting is now subject to the desire of each State. Although few states permit online sports betting in the US, within the next few years, it is believed that online sports betting will astronomically rise across other states as most states are already presenting bills and debating on forms of sports betting to be allowed. To access more on this as well as the legal betting websites, simply use our comparison link shared above.
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