For decades, those wanting to place a sports bet in the U.S. have essentially faced a binary choice.
Anywhere outside of Nevada, where single-game sports betting has long been legal, bettors have had various “under-the-radar” methods at their disposal. This includes one of many offshore sportsbooks available online, as well as local bookmakers.
However, that’s about to change. On May 14, the Supreme Court declared PASPA unconstitutional in Murphy vs. NCAA, allowing any state the freedom to legalize and regulate sports betting. New Jersey’s years-long challenge of the of 1992 federal sports betting ban will drastically expand the options for those looking to bet on sports legally in the US.
Sports betting launch dates by state
|State||Bill Introduced?||Law Passed?||Potential Launch Date||Potential Mobile Launch|
|Delaware||Yes||Yes||Launched June 5, 2018|
|Nevada||Yes||Yes||Legal since 1949|
|New Jersey||Yes||Yes||Launched June 14, 2018||Mid-July 2018|
|Rhode Island||Yes||Yes||September 2018|
|West Virginia||Yes||Yes||September 2018|
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, should have sports betting offerings operational by the start of the 2018 football season.
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With a regulatory and operational infrastructure already in place when PASPA was repealed, Delaware quickly became the first to launch single-game wagering in the U.S outside of Nevada.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 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. Delaware proudly beat New Jersey out of the gate.
- Delaware’s chances of legal sports betting in 2018: 100%
- Launch date: June 5, 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 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 will soon follow.
- New Jersey’s chances of legal sports betting in 2018: 100%
- Launch date: June 14, 2018
West Virginia remains the only state to have passed sports betting legislation in 2018 and could quickly take advantage of the positive Supreme Court ruling. The industry will exist under the oversight of the state’s Lottery Commission. Commission Director Alan Larrick said he hopes sports betting will be underway in the state before football season begins in September.
- West Virginia’s chances of legal sports betting in 2018: 100%
- Estimated launch date: September 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 will be responsible for promulgating a regulated sports betting framework. Public comment for regulations will close mid-June, at which point the state will likely move quickly on getting to market.
- Mississippi’s chances of legal sports betting in 2018: 100%
- Estimated launch date: Mid-July 2018
Pennslyvania is 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 initial licensing fee of $10 million for establishments that want to offer sports betting, along with an unusually high 36 percent tax on sports wagering revenue. Both of those amounts could potentially be amended before that portion of the law goes into effect.
- Pennsylvania’s chances of legal sports betting in 2018: 45%
- Estimated launch date: December 2018
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:
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
The bills are at varying points of the legislative process. While it’s rather unlikely all will make it to the finish line during the calendar year, a certain number would appear to have a good chance of passing.
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.
Other (limited) sports wagering options exist
Technically, there are three states where putting a little extra action on a sporting event has long been possible — Delaware (discussed above), Oregon and Montana.
Outside of Nevada, these were the three jurisdictions that already had some sort of sports-based wagering in place prior to PASPA’s passage. Consequently, their existing activity was grandfathered in based on the law’s wording.
Each of the three states have put their own unique spin on sports gaming. However, none come close to approximating the level of popularity of the single-game wagering and parlay betting currently offered in Las Vegas. In fact, the level of activity in all three states is minimal-to-non-existent compared to Nevada’s thriving industry.
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.)
Montana had taken a different tack altogether. At the time of PASPA’s passage, non-house-banked betting squares contests were being offered in establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. These were allowable under an exemption through a sports pool law. As per regulations, the boards could have up to 100 squares and payouts were required to include the outcome of a full sporting event.
Post-PASPA passage: Montana has also offered pari-mutuel fantasy sports betting through its state lottery, beginning in 2008. Only NASCAR and NFL fantasy contests are available.