How And Where To Bet On Sports Legally In The US

October 16, 2019

Sports betting is no longer confined to Nevada in the United States. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), there is an ever-growing list of states with sports betting. Here is a handy guide for those who want to put money on a game or match.

Current status of US sports betting

Right now, there are 8 states in the union that have active sports betting. Here is a list of all eight, and the most prominent active sportsbooks there:

  • Nevada
    • Roughly 200 sportsbooks in-state
    • Westgate – the most prestigious sportsbook in the world. Many other books and media use lines and odds generated by this operation.
    • Wynn Las Vegas
    • Station Casinos (7 sportsbooks)
    • CG Technology (8 sportsbooks)
    • Caesars Entertainment (13 sportsbooks)
    • MGM Resorts International (10 sportsbooks)
    • William Hill (the most widespread sportsbook operator – at least 60 locations, although mostly kiosks)
    • Boyd Gaming (9 sportsbooks)
  • New Jersey
    • Borgata Race & Sports Bar
    • DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts
    • William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean Resort
    • The Sportsbook at Golden Nugget
    • Wild Wild West Sportsbook at Bally’s
    • William Hill Sportsbook at Tropicana Atlantic City
    • The Book at Harrah’s
    • Hard Rock Sportsbook
    • FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands
    • Monmouth Park Sportsbook by William Hill
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • Delaware
    • Delaware Park Casino
    • Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
    • Harrington Raceway & Casino
  • Mississippi
    • 24 total sportsbooks, including one tribal sportsbook
    • Beau Rivage
    • Island View Casino Resort
    • Scarlet Pearl Casino and Hotel
    • The Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Tunica
    • Sam’s Town Tunica
    • Pearl River Resort
  • Rhode Island
    • Twin River Casino
    • Twin River Tiverton
  • New Mexico
    • Santa Ana Star Casino (sports betting is not legal statewide)

Additionally, more than half the states in the country have active sports betting bills in their state legislatures. So, the US is quickly becoming prime real estate for placing bets on sports events.

Online sports betting is a whole new thing

Perhaps the most surprising part about sports betting’s new renaissance is its progression to the online sphere. Online sports betting is sweeping through localities that host it like a monsoon.

In fact, in New Jersey, the state that has most wholeheartedly embraced online sportsbooks, online sports betting has outpaced wagering in brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. The number of wagers online greatly exceeds live bets – by more than a 3 to 1 ratio.

Here are the online sportsbooks in New Jersey:

Nevada, however, is not enjoying such gains. The Silver State allows sportsbooks to offer sports betting through mobile apps, but much of the transaction must occur in-person to remain legal.

So, a player must sign up for their account and make their first deposit at the actual casino before they may use the casino’s sports betting app. Withdrawals tend to be a bit easier, but the barriers to entry are a hassle that likely discourages many potential customers.

The only other state with online sports betting is West Virginia. The Mountain State has a single mobile betting app, BetLucky, that operates through an association with Wheeling Island Casino and Mardi Gras Casino.

So far, the reception to BetLucky hasn’t been as warm as the one New Jersey online sportsbooks received. Just over 1 out of 4 wagers in West Virginia occurs online.

Nevertheless, given the technology-centric generations that are up and coming, there’s no denying that online sports betting is the future for the country.

Types of wagers available in the US

There are many types of wagers that sports bettors in the US can make. Most of them are fairly straightforward, at least in their execution. Here are some of the more common types of wagers to be found in US sportsbooks.

Point spread

Point spreads are the most common form of wager. In essence, a point spread is the predicted margin of victory a team will have over its opponent, or vice versa.

Bettors who are betting on point spreads are wager either on the favorite or the underdog. For the bet to win, either the favorite must win by more points than the spread, or the underdog must lose by less points than the spread.

Moneyline

Betting on the moneyline is a wager on which team the bettor believes will win the game outright. The three-digit number next to each team’s name determines the payouts for a winning wager.

If the moneyline is positive, the team is the underdog. The amount given by the moneyline is the amount that a winning $100 bet will pay out.

Conversely, if the moneyline is negative, the team is the favorite. The amount given by the moneyline is the amount a bettor must wager in order to receive a $100 payout.

Totals

A totals wager is more commonly known by its nickname, the over/under. A totals bet is a wager about the total amount of points that both teams will score in a given contest.

The sportsbook establishes the over/under as its best estimate about how many points the team will score. Bettors then bet “the over” or “the under” according to whether they believe the estimate is too high or too low.

Futures

A futures bet is a long-term bet that usually takes months to settle. These are the sorts of wagers about whether a team will win the championship, or a player will win an award at season’s end.

Propositions

A proposition wager, or prop bet, is a wager on events ancillary to the events of the game. These types of wagers tend to be wackier and more creative proposals, such as whether the coin toss will be heads or tails.

Most wagers that appear in stories or movies are propositions. The outcome of the bet depends upon whether or not a certain event transpires.

Parlays

A parlay is a combination bet that involves a wager on multiple events. Each event in a parlay is known as a leg.

Parlays are popular because their payouts increase dramatically as the number of legs, or events, in the parlay increase. However, the pay rise is due to the fact that all legs of a parlay must win for the bettor to receive a payout.

Needless to say, parlays tend to be quite a bit riskier than single wagers.

In-game wagering

An in-game wager is typically available online only. These kinds of wagers involve propositions about small fragments of the event at hand after the game has already begun.

So, an in-game wager might be about what kind of play the Patriots will run next, or how many volleys will be in the next point of a tennis match. Online sportsbooks are growing increasingly granular in their approach to these types of wagers, and it is now possible to wager on the same game dozens of times.

Sports available for wagering

Most professional sports are available for wagering in the US. Many collegiate events are available as well. Here is a partial list of sports a bettor may find:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Hockey
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • UFC/MMA/Boxing
  • Cycling
  • Darts
  • Australian-rules football
  • Special events (Olympics, Oscars, etc.)
  • Esports
  • Fantasy sports

The list above covers most of the options. However, if there is a specific event or game desired but not mentioned, it is extremely likely someone will accept a wager on it.

What about offshore sportsbooks?

Perhaps one of the biggest misnomers about the dismissal of PASPA is the idea that Americans would suddenly begin betting. The unfortunate truth is that they always had been wagering – just not legally.

Many of those sites that are vaguely or outright in violation of US law are still going strong. Mainstream media sources sometimes quote or cite their work, despite their tenuous grip on the law.

The problem with offshore sportsbooks is one of reliability. A site could take players’ money and disappear into the night, leaving the victims with no recourse to pursue their thieves.

Now that there are numerous legal options in the US, regulators have even less reason to look the other way about the black or gray market sites. So, please exercise utmost caution before playing these types of sites, and never put funds on them that you couldn’t afford to lose.