The legal sports betting marketplace is quite crowded these days. That’s a good thing for sports bettors, as more choice translates into more competition among online betting sites for your dollars.
The competitive environment inspires innovation, a commitment to service, and the development and maintenance of platforms that hit all of the right notes. With a number of top sports betting sites to choose, it opens the door to more questions.
At the top of the list is a pretty simple one: Which online sportsbooks are worthy of your time? We’re going to help you figure out the answer to that right here. Read on as we take a detailed look at the best sports betting sites for 2020.
Legal US betting sites and free bet offers
How to choose the right online sportsbook for you
A good part of finding the sportsbook that works best for you comes down to personal preference, but there are some standard wish list items that nearly all users have at the top, such as a solid platform and a good selection of promotional offerings.
We’ll take a look at the operators that hit the mark on those fronts in a bit. Beyond the basics, you’ll want to find a book that provides some solid bang for your buck, as well as an operator that focuses on the little things just as much as the big stuff.
When choosing between places to play, approach it with an eye toward getting the answers to the questions that are most important to you. Here are some important ones you can use to get the ball rolling.
- How early are lines released: An operator that is on the ball is the preferred option as those behind the curve are generally just falling in line with what the rest of the market has to say. For the NFL and college football, you want a spot that’s releasing lines as the current slate is winding down. On the daily sports, odds should start coming out the night before or the day of.
- Which online sportsbooks have the best odds: You’ll find that many of the major operators are in relatively close range. Those that aren’t will stick out, and sharp bettors will pounce when it happens. Finding the book that’s ahead of the pack on certain sports is a matter of line shopping regularly, which is simple in the current environment.
- What sports betting sites offer a break on juice: This is a key tool in the arsenal for a number of operators on the promotional front. They’ll occasionally offer no-juice or reduced rake spreads. Other operators do it consistently and make it a regular feature. For example, PointsBet has offered -105 odds on NFL and NBA spreads as opposed to the standard -110.
- Do any sportsbooks have loyalty programs: If you can earn extra stuff for something you plan on doing anyway, it’s a pretty huge benefit. Sportsbook operators still have a ways to go to match casinos on this front, but some are ahead of the game. Included on that list is BetRivers, a solid book that offers a rewards program that works in tiers.
- Bonuses and promotions: In order to attract attention in the crowded marketplace, sportsbooks offer plenty of bonuses and promotions. These can be one-time things or those of the ongoing variety, and there’s lots out there for the taking. Here’s a quick look at some of the more common ones.
Best online sports betting sites 2021
|Rank||Betting Site||Bonus||Legal In||Bet Now|
|1.||DraftKings Sportsbook||$25 free + up to $1,000||VA, MI, NJ, PA, CO, IN, WV, NH, IA, IL, & TN||Visit DraftKings|
|2.||FanDuel Sportsbook||$1,000 risk free bet||MI, NJ, PA, IN, WV, CO, TN, IA, IL & VA||Visit FanDuel|
|3.||BetMGM Sportsbook||Up to $500 deposit bonus||MI, NJ, CO, TN, WV, NV, PA, IN & IA||Visit BetMGM|
|4.||William Hill||Up to $500 risk free bet with first deposit||MI, NJ, IL, IN, WV & CO||Visit William Hill|
|5.||FOX Bet Sportsbook||Up to $500 risk free bet||NJ, PA & CO||Visit FOX Bet|
|6.||PointsBet Sportsbook||Up to $2,000 in free bets||MI, NJ, IL, CO, IA & IN||Visit PointsBet|
|7.||Unibet Sportsbook||Up to 2 x $250 risk free bet||NJ, PA & IN||Visit Unibet|
|8.||BetRivers||Up to $250 bonus||PA, IN, CO, IL, IA & MI||Visit BetRivers|
US sports betting apps – Legal and licensed
In every industry, the cream ultimately rises to the top. While legal sports betting remains in its infancy, that has certainly been the case. The top operators are off to a good start, with stellar platforms, great bonus opportunities and lots of other perks.
Several have been first to market as legal states come online, and they’ll be at the top of the list when new ones come on board as well. We’ve reviewed all of them, and the best of the best have made it to our list of best online betting sites for you to consider.
1. DraftKings Sportsbook App
DraftKings has been one of the big success stories in the early days of legal sports betting, and that hasn’t happened by accident. The same tenets that brought the company to the top of the charts in daily fantasy sports are being applied here.
The platform is slick and filled with features. Among the top offerings is its live betting feature. The app as a whole is quick and intuitive, but DraftKings has really knocked it out of the park on this front.
Odds and lines are very competitive, and you’ll find all of the bet types you could ask for. DraftKings has become a leader in all markets entered to date. We fully expect that story to continue as the company enters new legal states.
- Review: DraftKings Sportsbook
- Bonus: Up to $1,025
- DraftKings is legal in: VA, MI, NJ, PA, CO, IN, WV, NH, IA, IL, & TN
2. FanDuel Sportsbook App
If a user-friendly platform that looks great and works like a charm is at the top of your preference list, then you’re going to find a lot to love about FanDuel. This is another DFS titan that has quickly shown it’s not a one-trick pony by any means.
If you’ve been around the block enough times, you can tell when a company prioritizes tech and the user experience. FanDuel checks off those boxes and then some. The app is smooth, and we found the betting slip function to be top-notch.
That’s just one of many highlights. FanDuel isn’t shy about ongoing promos, so there’s almost always something extra for you. This has become a go-to destination for bettors in numerous markets, and it’ll be more of the same elsewhere.
- Review: FanDuel Sportsbook
- Bonus: Up to $1,000
- FanDuel is legal in: MI, NJ, PA, IN, WV, CO, TN, IA, IL & VA
3. BetMGM Sportsbook App
The folks behind the sports betting app at BetMGM have a wealth of gambling experience, so that places some lofty expectations on the sports betting offering. BetMGM has met them head on, and its vision of being a big deal in sports betting is being fulfilled as a result.
Odds and lines are on point, and BetMGM goes deep into the well with market offerings. If you like niche sports, then you’ll have a lot to get excited about. Those who prefer to stick with the big market movers will be well taken care of, as well.
The navigation online isn’t quite as smooth as other operators, but you can still get right down to business once you get a handle on the layout. BetMGM has designs on being one of the top destinations for sports betting online, and it’s off to a fantastic start.
4. William Hill Sports Betting App
Across the pond, William Hill is one of the biggest names in sports betting. Its presence continues to grow here in the US as well. William Hill has a retail footprint in multiple states, and is also available both on the web and via mobile app in several spots.
The company has a wealth of experience behind the scenes, and it shows in its product offerings. The website and app are slick and easy to use. There’s a wide range of betting markets to choose from and all of the bet types you could ask for.
William Hill traces its roots back to 1934. The company has been playing with numbers ever since, so let’s just say that the odds are on point and competitive. William Hill is among those poised to be a major player in US sports betting and is more than worthy of your time.
5. Fox Bet Sportsbook App
If you’ve tuned in to any Fox Sports programming, then there’s a real good chance that you’ve heard about this offering. Thankfully, this isn’t just some kind of fancy marketing tool that really doesn’t offer all that much.
It’s the complete opposite.The Fox Bet sports betting app is the real deal. There are tons of tie-ins with network personalities to get you in the door, but once you take the step, you’ll realize that this is a great spot to get in the game.
The interface is clean and smooth, and virtually everything you need is just a click or a swipe away. The USA sports betting industry continues to explode, and Fox is among the media entities going all in. This is one of the cases in which it’s a good thing.
6. PointsBet Sportsbook App
Experienced sports bettors know what they want in a sportsbook, and those new to the game will get there before too long. PointsBet is solely focused on sports betting, and it shows in its product offering.
The Australian-based company has made a successful debut here in the US. Great promotional offerings — such as reduced juice on spread bets — have certainly helped, as has the wide range of market offerings and innovative features.
The PointsBet online sports betting app isn’t available in a ton of markets yet, but it’s on its way to several in the near future. If you’d love to find a spot to play that’s geared toward handicappers while also offering up great promos that everyone likes, this is the spot for you.
7. Unibet Sportsbook App
While new to the US online sports betting market, Unibet brings a wealth of gambling experience to the table. This is an entity with a presence in a number of markets across the globe, and its reach continues to spread on our shores as well.
The sportsbook itself is basic and simple. If you’re the type who prefers lots of ancillary features, then you probably won’t be too thrilled. However, those who just want a simple spot to legally and safely place bets will find that Unibet works fine.
One big bright spot on Unibet is the live betting feature. You don’t need to hunt too far to find what’s going on, as Unibet features it front and center. For an under-the-radar option that could become one of your favorite places to play, check out the Unibet sports betting app.
8. BetRivers Sportsbook App
BetRivers may not be a household name just yet, but this is a platform that has been making some serious noise in sports betting circles. The platform itself is solid, and this is an operator that prioritizes repeat business.
To that end, BetRivers offers up one of the best loyalty programs available for sports bettors. Users can sign up to be a part of iRush Rewards. In a nutshell, you earn points for the bets you place, and you can rise to different tiers as they accumulate.
You can redeem points for things like free bets and other perks. It’s far from the only thing to get excited about with BetRivers, but it’s certainly a huge selling point. If you’re looking for a great place to play that’ll incentivize you to stick around, this is the one.
Alternative option to online sports betting: daily fantasy sports sites
For another option to get some skin in the game, consider daily fantasy sports. The industry is still going strong with a very loyal client base, and there’s plenty of room for new users to get involved.
DFS sites offer all of the major sports and several ways to play. You can take your chances on a contest such as a 50/50, which offers up the chance to nearly double your entry fee, or go for the gusto with a huge guaranteed prize pool tournament.
Some of the GPPs are downright massive, with eye-popping first-place prizes of $1 million. DraftKings and FanDuel remain at the top of the charts. They attract the most users and offer the biggest prizes, but there are smaller alternatives for those looking to mix it up. You can find out more in our DraftKings vs. FanDuel comparison guide.
Sports betting apps and features
Sports betting apps provide users with the luxury of having a real live sportsbook on the go. The vast majority of top operators have a mobile option. Those without an app for iOS or Android in certain markets will generally have their site fully optimized to work on mobile.
After you’ve created an account by using our exclusive links, you’ll be able to download the app right from the operator website. Once that step is done, just log in on mobile and you’ll be all set to go.
In most markets, you can handle everything you need to online, but certain states require in-person registration for sports betting at a retail sportsbook. We’ll have some details on state-by-state requirements in a bit.
To actually place bets, you’ll need to be within state lines. In order to verify that you are, operators use what’s known as geolocation tracking. It’s part of the software that runs in the background after an initial download.
You can manage your account when out of state with the app. For example, those in New Jersey can check their accounts or withdraw funds while in New York, but you’ll have to be back on your home turf when it’s time to place bets.
How to find the best odds and lines
Before placing your bets, it’s always a good idea to take the time to make sure you are getting the best possible prices. The difference between -105 and -110 might not sound like much, but it can absolutely add up over the long run.
A great place to check the prices in multiple spots quickly and painlessly is with our live odds feed. We track the prices at multiple books so you don’t have to, so be sure to bookmark and check back often.
Many of the major operators will be in range for most games, but there will still be ticks of difference here and there. Let’s take a look at the top spots to visit for each of the big four sports.
Best NFL betting sites
The NFL is king on the tube, and the same holds true at sportsbooks. Football attracts the most betting volume, so operators devote a ton of time here.
Top betting sites for the NFL: DraftKings, FanDuel, Fox Bet, PointsBet
Best MLB betting sites
During the dog days of summer, MLB rules the sports betting landscape. Moneyline odds can vary by operator, so shopping around is definitely worth it.
Top betting sites for MLB: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, BetRivers
Best NBA betting sites
Pro basketball takes center stage during the winter months, and interest remains high right through the NBA Finals with spreads and totals attracting lots of action.
Top betting sites for the NBA: DraftKings, FanDuel, Fox Bet, PointsBet
Best NHL betting sites
The NHL has seen a good spike in betting attention in recent years. Among the options that have been a big hit is first period betting, which affords handicappers the chance to really zero in.
Top betting sites for the NHL: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, BetRivers
As mentioned, you always want to make sure you’re getting the best prices on your bets. So how can you make sure that’s the case? The answer is to engage in what’s known as line shopping.
This simply means that you are comparing the odds at multiple books in a bid to find the best deal. For example, checking three operators on an MLB moneyline for a favorite may reveal prices of -120, -125 and -115.
The last option on the list is the best deal, but you may not even know it’s out there if you don’t take the time to check it out. Comparing options is really easy, and that’s even more true when you consider that our live odds feed does the work for you.
Betting futures and props
Beyond finding the best odds and lines, you’ll want to be sure that the online sportsbook you plan to play on offers the full range of bet types. Outside of the standard sides and totals, take a look to see what it has to offer on futures and props.
The futures market continues to grow in popularity right along with the legal sports betting environment. These are wagers you can place on an outcome that won’t be known until down the road, such as the winner of the next Super Bowl or Stanley Cup.
Many operators offer the basic futures on signature events, while others go further. For example, one book might go real deep with futures on the winner of the next NL Cy Young Award or which team will get the top pick in the NBA draft.
Props are additional ways to bet on the games, and many books go all out on this front. If you click through on the individual game listings, you should see the available markets for that event.
When choosing between books, don’t be shy about putting them through their paces. There are some stellar product offerings out there, so you should have little trouble finding several that work best for you.
Are US online sportsbooks safe?
It has been a long and winding road to legalization for sports betting, but many operators were at the ready when that at last happened. While many operators have hung out their shingles, it’s not the Wild West by any means. In order to gain approval in legal states, sportsbooks need to check off many boxes to gain approval.
That can be a tough and rigorous process for them, but we all benefit from it. Those who pass gain the right to open their doors with a stamp of approval from the state.
Once that happens, that means they’re legal, regulated and safe to play on. Your funds will be safe and secure as well, so you won’t have to worry about any funny business going on behind the scenes.
It’s a very different story in the unregulated black market and on offshore sites. We’ll have more on that in a bit.
How to spot a legal sports betting site
While you can now access legal and regulated sports betting sites in numerous states without issue, that doesn’t mean the unregulated ones have gone and disappeared.
They’re still out there, and they’ll be more than happy to take your money to boot. So how can you tell the difference between who is on the up and up and who’s not? Here are a few flags to watch out for.
- An unusual domain name ending, such as .ag or .lv. The legal operators have a .com slapped on the tail end of their address.
- Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies offered as funding options. Legal online sports betting sites stick to the basics such as credit cards and PayPal.
- Odds on markets that can’t be bet on in the US, such as on the presidential election. Legal online sportsbooks won’t take the risk on something they’d get slapped around on.
- Poorly constructed web or app presence, such as long load times or an unusual number of ads. Legit operators invest heavily on the tech side.
When in doubt on an operator, a simple Google search will tell you what you need to know. If you can’t easily find information about the company — or if it has an absolutely atrocious reputation — then it’s time to keep shopping.
Why you should avoid offshore betting sites
While options abound on the legal front in numerous states, offshore betting sites aren’t going away. Many of them also make rather convincing arguments on why you should use them over other available options.
Don’t fall for it. This goes beyond the legal gray areas that they attempt to tiptoe around. There are lots of horror stories out there about offshore sites operating in less than reputable ways.
In fact, there are a number of Reddit threads and online sports betting forums devoted to the topic. Here’s just a sampling of the problems that may arise.
- Bankroll funds that disappear.
- Bonus offers that never clear.
- Payouts that take an ungodly amount of time or simply never happen.
- Operators that completely vanish without warning.
- Getting locked out of your account after winning.
There are a number of other scams out there, but you get the gist. Quite simply, it’s just not worth the head pain. Take your sports betting action to legal and reputable shops and save the headaches for bad beats and close calls.
Online sportsbook bonuses and promotions
In order to attract attention in the crowded marketplace, online sportsbooks offer plenty of bonuses and promotions. These can be one-time things or those of the ongoing variety, and there’s lots out there for the taking. Here’s a quick look at some of the more common ones.
|Bonus Offer||How It Works||Pros / Cons|
|No deposit||Typically a small free bet of $10 or so just for signing up.||Free funds to play with. Need to deposit to continue.|
|Risk free bet||Place your first bet in risk-free fashion, sometimes for as much as $500.||If the bet is a loser, you’ll get a refund for that amount. However, you’ll have to play it through on the site.|
|Deposit match||A match of your initial deposit up to a certain dollar amount.||Nice bankroll booster, but matched funds aren’t eligible for withdrawal.|
|Free play contests||Contests with a nominal prize amount in which you compete against other users.||Good way to try out a site, but a free contest can attract lots of users and be tough to win.|
|Odds boost||Books will boost the odds for certain bets in the favor of bettors.||A chance to earn enhanced returns on bets you may place anyway.|
|Parlay insurance||If you lose one leg on a designated multi-team parlay, you get your bet back.||Good way to mitigate a little of the parlay risk, but the number of total legs required will vary.|
|Score bonus||An offer for extra winnings for certain game events, such as 3-pointers or home runs.||Can be a great way to boost your returns on the games you’ve zeroed in on.|
|Bet guarantee||If you're ahead by a certain point, such as after seven innings in MLB, the bet is automatically a winner.||Another piece of insurance to lean on for the games you plan to bet on.|
Not all operators will offer every single promo, and terms and conditions will vary. To stay on top of current offerings, be sure to regularly check the main betting lobbies and promo tabs for the operators you play on. Also, opt in for promotional offerings when signing up, and follow your preferred operators on the major social media platforms for the latest news.
Online sports betting launch dates by state
Sin City no longer has the legal sports betting industry on lockdown. Since the Supreme Court gave the green light in May 2018, the floodgates have opened. Several states are completely up and running, others are in the process and more will follow.
|State||Law Passed?||Launch Date||Mobile Launch|
|Colorado||Yes||May 2020||May 2020|
|Delaware||Yes||June 2018||Still pending|
|Illinois||Yes||March 2020||August 2020|
|Indiana||Yes||September 2019||October 2019|
|Iowa||Yes||August 2019||August 2019|
|Michigan||Yes||March 2020||January 2021|
|Montana||Yes||March 2020||March 2020|
|New Jersey||Yes||June 2018||August 2018|
|Oregon||Yes||August 2019||October 2019|
|Pennsylvania||Yes||November 2019||May 2019|
|Rhode Island||Yes||November 2018||Still pending|
|Tennessee||Yes||November 2020||November 2020|
|Virginia||Yes||January 2021||January 2021|
|West Virginia||Yes||August 2018||September 2019|
The above list will be growing longer before too long. An additional four states have passed legislation to offer retail or sports betting online, but the official launch is still pending.
- North Carolina: Passed in July 2019.
- Washington: Passed in March 2020.
Unfortunately, the rules and regulations aren’t uniform for each and every state. Certain states allow retail sports betting but are dragging their feet with online and mobile access, while some that offer those two options still require in-person registration.
In addition, states can differ on what’s allowed and what’s not, such as wagering on college sports. For the exact specifications for each state, just click through on the name for the complete guide.
Legal sports betting by state
Many states got ahead of the curve by actually passing sports betting legislation ahead of the Supreme Court decision. Some, including New Jersey and Delaware, launched sports betting before the start of the 2018 football season. Several others have since followed including Pennsylvania and Indiana. As of 2020, over a dozen states have a legal sports betting operation running in some form.
A seventh state, Maine, also passed a bill in 2019. However, in what was a rather surprising development, Governor Janet Mills did not sign the bill into law and is reportedly going to send it back to committee for changes when the legislature reconvenes in January.
Finally, the District of Columbia also passed sports betting legislation in December 2018. The district’s lottery will oversee and regulate the industry. However, the industry is yet to roll out within the jurisdiction and has been steeped in controversy due to the approval of a no-bid, sole-source contract with Intralot to power sports betting operations.
Launch date: June 5, 2018
In 2009, a struggling economy that saw both the state lottery and the casinos take a significant financial hit led to a proposal by Governor Jack Markell for establishments to add single-game sports betting. The measure passed, and since then Delaware offered legal parlay betting on NFL games as its one form of sports-related wagering.
With a regulatory and operational infrastructure already in place when PASPA was repealed, Delaware quickly became the first to launch single-game wagering in the U.S outside of Nevada. The first legal single-game bet was placed by Gov. John Carney on June 5, 2018 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. Delaware proudly beat New Jersey out of the gate.
New Jersey sportsbooks
Launch date: June 14, 2018
The battleground state in the fight for legalized sports betting was the second state to launch sports betting post-PASPA. A new regulatory bill allows for wagers to be placed at any casino or racetrack in the state, or via mobile. The legislation was passed unanimously on June 7, 2018 and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy on June 11. Monmouth Park accepted the first legal bet on June 14, and many other sportsbooks soon followed. DraftKings Sportsbook was the first to launch a real-money mobile app in NJ and is now accepting bets from people located in the Garden State.
Launch date: Aug. 1, 2018
A modification of the state’s Gaming Control Act regulating daily fantasy sports (DFS) was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant in March 2017, clearing the path to legalized sports betting in the state’s 32 casinos. The Mississippi Gaming Commission formed a regulated sports betting framework and sports betting recently celebrated its first anniversary.
Mississippi remains a retail-only state in terms of sports betting. Efforts to authorize mobile wagering were short-lived during the 2019 legislative session. Bills in both the state’s House and Senate came to an abrupt end in February when both missed a deadline to advance out of committee. Lawmakers plan to reintroduce such legislation in 2020.
West Virginia sportsbooks
Launch date: Sept. 1, 2018
West Virginia was the first state to have passed online sports betting legislation in 2018 quickly took advantage of the positive Supreme Court ruling, launching its own legal sports betting market on Sept. 1. The industry exists under the oversight of the state’s Lottery Commission.
The state’s industry took a hit beginning in March 2019 upon the shuttering of the BetLucky online platform associated with Mardi Gras Casino and Resort due to a multi-party dispute involving Delaware North, Mionmi Gaming and Entergaming, which were all involved in the operation of the mobile platform. However, late August 2019 saw the arrival of both FanDuel and DraftKings as online options in the state, reviving the industry in an impactful way.
Rhode Island sportsbooks
Launch date: Nov. 26, 2018
A bill to legalize and regulate sports betting in Rhode Island quickly moved through the state legislature and onto the Governor’s desk for approval after SCOTUS overturned PASPA. Gov. Gina Raimondo enacted the law on June 22, 2018 and the market officially opened on Nov. 26. The state lottery oversees sports betting, and only two casinos in the state — Twin Rivers casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton — are offering wagering for the time being.
However, a major development in the form of the authorization of mobile sports betting came to pass during the 2019 legislative session after a slow first few months in terms of handle. The race is on for online platforms to be available in time for the full launch of NFL season on Sept. 8.
Launch date: Nov. 16, 2018
Pennslyvania was a step ahead of most states after an omnibus gaming bill (H 6948) was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on Oct. 30, 2017. The wording of the legislation included provisions for legalized sports betting on professional and amateur events — including online wagering. As currently written, the law contains an unusually high 36 percent tax on sports wagering revenue. While less than ideal for operators, many are still moving forward with plans to open sportsbooks across the state.
The first retail book to go live was the Hollywood Casino in Grantville on Nov. 16, 2018. SugarHouse and Rivers Pittsburgh launched their own sportsbooks in mid-December. SugarHouse then became the first mobile sportsbook to launch in May 2019, allowing PA bettors to place wagers from anywhere within state lines for the first time.
They were soon joined in the online space by Parx Casino, Rivers Casino and FanDuel Sportsbook. Fox Bet, an online skin of Mount Airy Casino, will begin a three-day period of mandatory Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board testing on Tuesday, Sept. 2. That will leave it poised for a full launch multiple days ahead of the first full slate of 2019 NFL action on Sunday, Sept. 8.
New York sportsbooks
Launch date: July 16, 2019
The history of sports betting in the Empire State is a rather extensive one by most standards. New York voters actually legalized sports betting at the state’s four upstate commercial casinos way back in 2013. However, the first legal wager within state borders wasn’t taken until six years later at Rivers Casino in Schenectady. A FanDuel-branded sportsbook at Tioga Downs opened shortly thereafter. Del Lago Resort and Casino and Resorts World Catskills are two other facilities authorized to apply for a sports betting license.
Under current law, the state’s tribal casinos are also authorized to run sportsbooks. On that front, three Oneida Nation properties are supposed to launch in 2019 as well in partnership with Caesars. Bettors must be at least 21 years of age to place a wager within the state. In the 2020 legislative session, an effort to expand sports betting licensee opportunities to racetracks and other gaming facilities is expected.
The biggest push on the sports betting front in the state capital during the next legislative session is likely to be centered on mobile wagering, however. New York seemed headed for the legalization of full online sports betting before running into a snag in the state’s Assembly. Moreover, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also is on the record with his belief that the authorization of an expansion of legalized wagering such as mobile sports betting would require a voter referendum.
Launch date: July 1, 2019
Natural State voters approved the legalization of sports betting during November 2018 mid-term elections as part of an amendment that approved the expansion of casino gaming. Arkansas’ first sportsbook was up and running just under eight months later. Oaktown Racing Casino Resort cut the ribbon by taking the first wager on July 1, and it represents one of four facilities within the state authorized to take bets. The others are Southland Casino Racing and a pair of proposed casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties. There is no mobile wagering available in Arkansas at this point.
Notably, Southland at one point appeared to be on track to inaugurate sports betting in the state. However, as of early September 2019, it remains without a firm timetable for opening. In terms of taxes, Arkansas casinos all pay a 13.0 percent rate on the first $150 million of revenue and a 20.0 percent on higher amounts. Sports betting revenue falls under those parameters. There is no separate sportsbook licensing fee.
Launch date: August 15, 2019
The Hawkeye State was nothing if not efficient in getting sports betting legalized and up and running in recent months. Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill, SF 617, into law back on May 13. Just over three months later, multiple sportsbooks opened for business at both the retail and online levels. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission oversees the industry in the state.
A total of eight casinos in the state currently have sportsbooks accepting wagers. Half of those – Isle Bettendorf, Isle Waterloo, Lakeside and Prairie Meadows (all William Hill properties) – have an active online sports betting platform as well. Through 2020, bettors will have to register in person at a casino’s retail location before being able to place any kind of mobile wager. Online registration will be an option beginning in January 2021.
Other particulars of wagering in Iowa include a 21-and-older age requirement and a prohibition on in-state college prop bets. Licensees pay a $45,000 fee for an initial license and operators pay a tax rate of 6.75 percent on sports betting revenue, equal to that of Nevada. There could eventually be up to 19 casinos operating sportsbooks in the state. Each licensee is allowed up to two online skins, meaning there could eventually be up to 38 online sports betting sites for Iowa residents.
Launch date: August 27, 2019
Oregon first began offering a parlay card system for the NFL, Sports Action, in 1989. NBA games were made available as well beginning in 1990, with the home-state Portland Trail Blazers being exempt. The basketball component was discontinued after one year due to lack of public interest. (Dissatisfaction on the part of both the NFL and NCAA led to the eventual passing of a bill to outlaw Sports Action, making the 2007 NFL season its swan song.)
The Chinook Winds Casino Resort, operated by the Siletz Tribe, opened its sportsbook on Aug. 27, 2019 to become the first Oregon casino to offer live sports betting. There are another eight tribal casinos within the state that could potentially offer sports betting in the future.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Lottery will likely roll out its long-awaited traditional mobile sports betting product sometime in late September. The original target date had been some time prior to the start of NFL season, but pending technical issues with the platform have derailed that timeline.
New Hampshire sportsbooks
Launch date: Dec. 30, 2019
New Hampshire went with a limited rollout of online betting — just one sports betting app offered via DraftKings. In an open bid process, DraftKings offered a higher percentage of revenue in order to have a monopoly in the state.
So for now, you have just one way to bet in New Hampshire, but it is at least via one of the market leaders in sports betting in the US.
Launch date: March 9, 2020
Illinois had its first physical sportsbook open at an auspicious time — just as the coronavirus started shutting down US sports in March.
But it was still the start of what will be a massive industry in the state. Illinois online sports betting started going live later in the summer of 2020, and for now you can register for your account at the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel anywhere in the state at least through Sept. 19. That’s when an order from the governor could expire, meaning you could have to go to a physical casino to sign up.
Launch date: May 1, 2020
Colorado voters approved legal sports betting in 2019, and launch came the next year. Going live in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, online sportsbooks were the only option initially in the state, as physical casinos remained closed.
Right now, there are several Colorado online sportsbooks live, including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and BetRivers. Eventually there could be dozens of apps live in the state.
Colorado is one of the most competitive and open sports betting markets in the country, which should result in a good experience for the state’s bettors.
Launch date: November 1, 2020
Tennessee launched on the first day of November 2020 as the 14th state to offer sports betting inside its borders. It is also the first to launch entirely online – there are no retail sportsbooks active in the state, and there are no plans to introduce any, either.
The first Tennessee online sportsbooks to launch were DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM with plans for Action 24/7. The first three names on that list are well-known, of course, but Action 24/7 might give you pause. This operator is a brand new sportsbook that aims to serve as a homegrown operator, with all of its employees and offices inside the state of Tennessee. Only time will tell to see how well the app will stack up against the big boys.
Launch date: January 21, 2020
Tennessee’s tenure as the only state with online-only sports betting lasted a mere two months. Virginia allowed FanDuel Sportsbook to begin offering wagers to its residents and visitors a day after the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
FanDuel got a headstart likely due to its association with the NFL’s Washington Football Team, which represents Washington D.C., plays its games in Maryland, but keeps its headquarters in Virginia. Virginia’s unique carveout for sports teams may signal that Washington owner Daniel Snyder is planning to move the team, but in the meantime, FanDuel will be happy to take your bets.
Launch date: January 21, 2020
A day after Virginia joined the party, Michigan became the 16th state to offer online sports betting in the US. The Great Lake State is the second-most populous state – after Pennsylvania – to launch wagering on sports through mobile devices and computers.
As befitting such a large state, Michigan’s launch happened in positively grand style. 10 different apps launched simultaneously, a record number of same-day launches for sports betting in the US. Favorites like BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, Golden Nugget, and Pointsbet are now open for business in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
Significant legislative push in many other states
With estimates of illegal sports wagering equating to more than $50 billion annually, an increasing number have decided that it would be worth looking into sports betting, at the very minimum. In addition to the states mentioned above, 16 others have already introduced or reintroduced sports-betting legislation or have sports betting laws on the books:
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
The bills are at varying points of the legislative process. While none made it to the finish line during the 2018 calendar year, a certain number would appear to have a good chance of passing in 2019.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled favorably for the permittance of sports betting, the likelihood of numerous other states pushing for sports-betting legislation moving forward is presumably very high.
Legal sports betting has grown quickly in a short period of time. The upward trajectory won’t be shifting directions as additional states come online. The number of choices for users to consider will continue to grow as well.
That’s a good thing for consumers. Operators will have to stay on the top of their game to stand apart from the pack, and that will directly translate into product enhancements and additional incentives.
As we patiently wait to see what’s next, there are a number of operators that are crushing it right now. When you’re looking for new spots to check out, be sure to refer back to our picks for the best sports betting sites of 2020.