Online Sports Betting Sites in the USA
All bets are now on!
Restrictions lasting decades prevented the masses from ever having the chance to participate in online betting in the USA. This, however, is no longer the case.
The decision made by the Supreme Court to deem PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), in place since 1992, unconstitutional, now sees each individual state entrusted to fully legalize sports betting within its borders.
The removal of such a long standing law has breathed new life into an industry previously off-limits and, for the most part, spent underground.
When the Supreme Court declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) inconsistent with the Constitution, the world of sports betting took a radical change based on the following sentence:
“Each state is free to act on its own.”
Seven new states have taken legal single-game sports bets for the first time, while another seven jurisdictions (including the District of Columbia) have legalized sports wagering.
Meanwhile, numerous states are at different stages of working toward being ready to post odds. At the time of writing it's believed there as many as 38 states with bills on file.
Over twelve months on from the fall of PASPA, it's clear online sports betting in the US is still making baby steps.
We've yet to hit double digits in terms of states officially up and running, though from looking at the number of bills on the table, it won't be too long until that milestone is smashed out the park.
It’s only a matter of time before we see the industry make unprecedented strides in the states
Whether online sports betting has arrived already or is planned further down the line in your state, this definitive guide will shed light on the subject and ensure you are more than ready to sample online betting for yourself.
From where online betting sites are now legally up and running in the USA, to how best to understand American odds and set up a betting account, we have you covered.
Not only will this site aim to keep you abreast of all the ongoing developments surrounding online betting in the USA, we’ll share our expert knowledge of the industry so you’re in pole position to ace the start of your betting career.
Online Sports Betting vs. Sports betting
First, it’s worth pointing out that just because sports betting has now been fully legalized in a state, this doesn’t mean the ability to bet online is yet there. What's more, the process of online betting may not bring the flexibility you had in mind.
Rather than a one-size-fits-all, you'll come to find the majority of states have their own, unique framework in place.
Read on for the current situation concerning legal online sports betting in your state:
- Sports betting: ✅
- Online sports betting: ✅ (must sign-up and deposit at land based sportsbook)
The undisputed gambling capital of the world where wagering and sports betting has been commonplace for decades. Bettors can wager as usual at the many sportsbooks/casinos located in the state and also via mobile apps. However, a player is required to visit a brick-and-mortar casino to create an account, while customers must also fund their accont from a physical sportbook.
- Sports betting: ✅
- Online sports betting: ✅
Since New Jersey initially instigated matters in overturning PASPA and spent millions of dollars doing so, it was quite a turn up to see NJ pipped to the post and become the first state outside of Nevada to start accepting sports bets.
But it’s the Garden State leading the way in terms of the number of legal online sportsbooks already live with no less than thirteen sports betting sites active.
First to fully launch, DraftKings, had the market to them themselves to start with, managing to press ahead with creating a sound customer base before they were joined by playMGM and SugarHouse.
FanDuel, William Hill, 888 Sport, Caesars and Betstars have all followed suit in putting down roots in New Jersey, making it the most competitive market in the industry.
- Sports betting: ✅
- Online sports betting: ❌
Delaware became the first state to take advantage of the downing of PASPA, even ahead of New Jersey. DE had been partially exempt from the federal ban on sports betting in place since 1992 with residents permitted to partake in parlay wagering, via the state lottery.
Despite offering an element of sports betting, no time was wasted in taking the opportunity to expand the industry when the opportunity presented itself.
Within only a few days of the decision made by the Supreme Court on May 14th 2018, the state was officially up and running offering single-game bets, surprising many with how quick they passed legislation.
As it stands, online sports betting in Delaware doesn't exist. It's thought the three casinos with sports betting active is a sufficient offering for the second smallest US state and convenient enough to reach. This said, state officials realise the importance for bettors to wager at their own leisure and will likely look at expanding wagering once again in the near future.
- Sports betting: ✅
- Online sports betting: ✅ (wagering permitted from land-based casinos only)
Among the small cluster of states to legalize sports betting in anticipation of PASPA being repealed, Mississippi became the third state to offer full-scale sports betting with initial wagers made at Sportsbooks at Gold Strike Casino in Tunica and Beau Rivage in Biloxi.
The market flourished in the first three months and was strengthened further on the back of DraftKings adding Miss to its portfolio.
The market is restricted somewhat though however with current state laws not permitting online sports betting outside the grounds of a physical casino.
Licensed by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, both Unibet and bet365 are due to launch in NJ, expanding the number of online sportsbooks still further in the Garden State
- Sports betting: ✅
- Online sports betting: ✅
It took some time but PA have finally arrived at the sports betting table.
Having legalised the industry and set the ball rolling initially back in 2017, SugarHouse launched Pennsylvania's first online sportsbook only as recent as May 2019.
At present, downloading an app for Apple devices isn't possible though this will almost certainly be fixed going forwards.
Up to nine other online apps intend to follow SugarHouse before the year's end.
But a typically cautious approach to proceedings in PA which means an operator must launch a physical sportsbook before going online, could prevent the industry from really taking off in the Keystone State.
- Sports betting: ✅
- Online sports betting: ✅ (no apps available currently due to suspension of Betlucky app)
State lawmakers in WV had sports betting legalised early in 2018 and an online industry live before the end of the year.
But the industry has taken a hit with the suspension of its one app, BetLucky, which has fallen victim to a dispute between casino operator and sportsbook provider. It's unlikely to return either.
At the time of writing, West Virginians are without a place to bet online. But this will change with the arrival of DraftKings to the Mountain state at a date yet to be decided. For the time being, bettors can visit any one of the five land-based casinos to wager.
- Sports betting: ✅
- Online sports betting: 🔜
RI became state number eight to roll out sports betting at its two state casinos: Twin River and Twin River Tiverton.
And it won’t be too long until mobile wagering is possible either with plans to expand into online betting signed off in March.
Residents in the Ocean State can expect sports betting in all its glory to arrive at some point in 2019.
How to choose a betting site
"Which online sports betting site is the best?"
If I was given a dollar for each time somebody asked this question I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you.
At the end of the day, the answer is always going to be different.
We all have our different take on the world, different tastes, different values. What you may regard high on your list of criteria, your buddy may not. And neither would be right, nor wrong.
How do you even define “best?" - it’s a hard one to pin down, I think you'd agree.
Below are a few pointers to get the process of choosing a betting site rolling that bit quicker.
What factors should I consider?
As alluded to, what you may determine an quality in a betting site, somebody else may not deem too significant.
With that in mind, it's essential to continually ask yourself questions.
For instance, does the site cater for a good variety of sports? Does it have a good industry reputation? How does it fare in terms of customer sevice? Does it offer your preferred means of payment?
At first glance, it may seem that each site is barking about the same thing. Yet, when you delve deeper and find the answers to the questions posed, you'll find each betting site is different.
This is great news in terms of catering for everyone's needs.
Here are the points we view most worthy of consideration when choosing a betting site:
- Company reputation
- Customer service
- Bonus offers
- Ease of website
- Availability of app
- Deposit methods
- Range of sports covered
- Competitive lines
By no means are the above in order of importance.
As mentioned, each bettor will rank certain criteria higher than another when selecting a betting site; while customer service will be essential for one indiividual, for another it's all about the size of the welcome bonus on offer.
Note to self: there’s no right or wrong when choosing a betting site
Simply, it’s about working out what's important to you and settling on a sportsbook that ticks most, if not all, boxes on your list.
Research is key to getting exactly what you want from your sportsbook, as is trial and error. Sometimes, things just aren’t as you’d expect them to be but your experience with one betting site would have at least opened your eyes as to what to look out for in the future.
For a more in-depth take on choosing the best betting site, check out Chapter 6 of our Beginner's Guide to Sports Betting.
How to sign up with a betting site
Once you’ve ticked those boxes and settled on the best betting site for you, it’s time to sign up. This should take not time at all in truth, you’ve already done the groundwork getting to this point.
What’s required in terms of signing up is standard across the board and can be broken down into three stages.
First, you'll need to enter the following personal information:
- Email address
- Home address (including city, state and ZIP code)
- Cell Phone number
- Date of birth
The next stage involves creating the log-in information for your account:
- Security question & answer
Finally, you’ll need to add a method of payment:
- A means of depositing and withdrawing monies that suits you and your finances, e.g. credit/debit cards (VISA/Mastercard), internet wallet (Neteller/Skrill/Paypal)
You may be asking the question why is this necessary now?
Well, the majority of bonus offers you come across will require you to deposit money before you qualify or become eligible for the bonus.
Winning new customers is what it’s all about for bookmakers so they’ll do all they can to guarantee you sign up and deposit money, hence the glamorous bonus and welcome offers.
More and more betting sites are starting to offer Bitcoin as a payment method.
Betting bonuses - What you need to know
There are so many sportsbooks out there and many more set to join the sports betting jungle.
But how do they each entice new customers and stand out in a crowded market?
Giving away something for free normally does the trick, right? We certainly say so. And as a new bettor, this remains the single best way to learn the ropes.
By rolling out a variety of free bet offers presented in several shapes and sizes, sportsbook will aim to win your signature through a few different means.
A bettor may earn a free bet for making an initial deposit or just by simply signing up. You can even lose a bet a certain way and be awarded a bonus play.
For a beginner to betting, the sheer quantity of free bet bonuses out there can be quite overwhelming. And that’s without trying to fathom the terms and conditions.
Fear not though, here we are with the most popular free bets you’re likely to come across in the states:
The prime offering for new kids on the block.
Here, you make an initial deposit and place that first wager. If your bet wins then happy days, you collect your winnings as per.
However, should your bet prove unsuccessful, you’ll be refunded your stake in the shape of a free bet, the ‘risk-free’ element coming to the fore.
Note, that any winnings made from your free bet will not include your stake. Also, consider that the free bet may need to be used within a certain time frame.
In other words, always read the terms and conditions attached to the offer.
No deposit bonus
Forget about putting your hand in your pocket 'cos this one’s on the house.
Quite a rarity these days, right? But if you're a new bettor, you can enjoy the luxury of a no deposit bonus which doesn’t require you to part with any money whatsoever.
The offer is typically on the smaller side, $10/$20 for instance. And given its free cash such an offer will often come with a steep wagering requirement (sometimes as much as 15X) before you can claim the money as yours.
The ‘try before you buy’ element is of huge appeal for many a new bettor however.
Matched deposit bonus
Make a first deposit with this offer and the sportsbook will match that amount, upto a certain percentage.
For example, a common offer is 100% upto $50. This means an initial deposit of $50 will be matched with another $50, while 50% upto $50 will see your account credited with a bonus of $25. And so on.
One could say this is another take on the risk-free bet and they wouldn’t be far wrong in truth.
But the difference with this offer is you’re still entitled to your bonus, even should your first bet win.
Money back free bet
Here, you can be awarded your money back if a wager loses in a particular way.
For example, should a certain soccer player score or the basketball team you backed lose in overtime, the sportsbook will return your deposit.
Such offers are normally rolled out around big events such as the SuperBowl or the Final Four of the much loved NCAA tournament.
Depositing and withdrawing money to your online sports betting account
An important point to consider but often overlooked is how to deposit and withdraw monies to your betting account, from your bank account.
The majority of sportsbooks make life easy though by making the most popular payment methods available.
In the US these tend to be in the shape of:
- Credit/Debit cards (Mastercard/VISA)
Almost everybody owns a credit or debit card of some description, making this the most widely used deposit method.
You’ll need to enter your card details (long card number, expiry date, security number) when prompted, as well as the name on the card.
Rarely will you be faced with any major issues when using this option with funds credited immediately to your betting purse, providing there is money in your bank account that is! Not only this the chances of racking up debt is reduced significantly.
In terms of withdrawing winnings, how straightforward a procedure this is depends on each individual sportsbook.
Some may take longer than others – the most common tends to be between 1 and 2 days – while other sportsbooks may charge a fee for transferring winnings via a card.
Cards are the way of the world now but it won’t be long until bitcoin becomes the go-to, surely? In terms of the betting industry, it works wonders for both bettors and online sportsbooks and is used by the majority of the sportsbooks.
In order to deposit, you’ll need to select Bitcoin (BTC) as your payment option. You then send your Bitcoins to the BTC address (valid for 10-20 minutes) the sportsbook would have sent you upon selecting this as your payment option. The processing time can take a few minutes, up to several days, though this is the extreme end of the scale.
Bitcoin is extremely quick, offers near-anonymity and is cheaper than all other methods
In order to cash out winnings, you need to request a cashout withdrawal and provide the sportsbook with a Bitcoin address for the payment to be made.
The overall process usually takes between 24 and 48 hours.
Understanding American Wagers
We're almost setting you loose. But before we do, it’s essential we fully explain the different types of American wagers.
This type of betting is the typical wager used across the big four sports and beyond solely because it's the easiest to understand and requires minimal work.
There will only ever be two choices to bet on; the favorite (the team expected to win) and the underdog (the team expected to lose).
Here's what you need to remember:
- The favorite is assigned a negative number (-), indicating the amount that must be staked for a $100 profit to be made
- The underdog is assigned a positive number (+), indicating the amount that you can win if you risk $100
Let’s illustrate the points above using our fictional game between the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.
NY Knicks are the favorites to win at -110
Placing a successful $110 bet on them will bring you $100 in winnings
In addition to the winnings, your stake of $110 is returned
Total payout = $210
Atlanta Hawks are the less fancied team to win at +240
A successful $100 bet will yield $240 winnings
In addition to the winnings, your stake of $100 is returned
Total payout = $340
At times, two teams of quite contrasting abilities fail to offer value in the odds given in the most traditional form. This is when you may use Pointspread betting.
Like the Asian Handicap system now commonplace in European online sports betting, this method reduces the perceived differences between two teams in order for there to be better value in the odds.
Several factors are considered before assigning how high or how low the handicap is set. This includes form, home field advantage, player availability or weather for instance.
Once this is decided, you’ll find one side (the underdog) handed a headstart, with the other team (the favorite) starting with a handicap.
Take a look at this example of the following point spreads:
- New England Patriots -10
- Oakland Raiders +10
Here, the Patriots are considered ten points better than the Raiders prior to the game and will be required to win by more than ten points if they’re to win the bet.
For the Raiders to win the bet, they have to make sure they lose by less than ten points.
We’ve used 10 points for example purposes but a whole host of handicaps are offered by sportsbooks so do not worry about being restricted in what you can bet on.
In the event of New England Patriots winning by exactly 10 points, the match would be considered a ‘push’. In this case, your stake returned due to there not being a winner.
Totals – Over/Under bets
A great alternative to just betting on who will beat who, this wager centered on the combined points total of both teams is proving more popular with punters.
The runs/points total is set by the sportsbook who will factor in stats, form, injuries and circumstance into the odds given.
Predicting whether the game comes in over or under the line set is the name of the game.
For instance, if you bet on an NBA game between Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat to finish Under 210.5 points, the combined match points total needs to be 210 or under for the bet to be successful. 211 points would be classed as Over the line and an unsuccessful wager.
Parlay betting links together two or more single wagers for a higher payout with the odds increasing the more teams involved in the parlay bet, similar to the accumulator so commonly used in football within Europe. For this type of bet to win, all wagers must win – if one lets you down, the whole bet loses.
Make no mistake, this bet can bring sizable winnings.
Generally speaking though, having to rely on the outcome of a number of games reduces the chances of success, thus, many bettors tend to steer clear and stick to bet types with a better chance of winning.
Online betting in USA compared with the rest
Long standing concerns that the integrity of sports would be harmed in the US with the introduction of legal sports betting has seen the industry off limits for as long as it has.
But when you consider the success of the industry in other parts of the world and how safely online sports betting is regulated, then it’s perhaps a surprise it has taken this long for the door to be opened.
In Europe, for instance, sports betting is one hell of major business with an estimated turnover amounting to more than $100 billion per year. The industry is 100% legal and safely regulated thanks, in part, due to a strong set of laws created within the European Union.
The potential for the integrity of a sport to come into question is reduced greatly by the work carried out by the EGBA (European Gaming and Betting Association) – a body representing the leading gaming and betting operators – and the ESSA (Sports Betting Integrity), in place to safeguard the integrity of sport.
Tax revenue and the opportunity for new jobs are two of the major factors behind the shifting attitude towards sports betting in the US.
The two organisations work alongside each other to detect irregular betting patterns and identify match-fixing scenarios even before the bet or bets have been placed, in addition to squeezing out illegal betting operators from the industry. Never has it been safer to bet in Europe.
The US, by contrast, has been home to a significant underground betting scene which has only served to increase the likelihood of the integrity of a sport being compromised.
With the potential for all to benefit, it’s no surprise to see attitudes towards sports betting shifting at quite a rate.
The absence of a clear regulatory framework had also seen the process of sports betting a risky one for customers who weren’t protected from criminal betting operators in any shape or form.
Going forwards, the legalization of the industry will not only serve to eradicate such issues but also see states able to recoup millions of dollars in previously lost tax revenue, the creation of jobs and significant investment made in sports leagues and its competitors. With the potential for all to benefit, it’s no surprise to see attitudes towards sports betting shifting at quite a rate.
Professional sports leagues can no longer ignore sports betting
Executives at the head of the major sports leagues previously with long-standing reservations regarding the legalization of the sports betting industry are slowly coming around to the idea.
You only have to look at the decision of the NBA to partner up with MGM resorts as evidence of this.
Taking into account the exposure and vast income the league and its teams will receive on the back of advertising and partnerships, the acceptance of sports betting among all the sporting bodies is a matter of when, rather than if, regardless of any grievances they claim to still have.
Clearly, the matter of integrity remains the prime concern.
Sports leagues execs have raised the idea of implementing an ‘integrity fee’ based on a state by state basis as a way of covering the extra costs needed to eliminate illegal activity
So far, legislators have rejected the idea claiming the leagues already stand to benefit since legalized sports betting will only increase interest in games. But a compromise is thought to be in the pipeline.
Canada set to follow in US footsteps?
Paying close attention to events in the US will be neighbours Canada.
The Great White North currently have in place an unregulated online betting industry which sees tens of billions of dollars wagered illegally. There's no sign of this slowing up either.
According to the Canadian Gaming Association it’s estimated around $14 billion dollars is wagered annually through illegal bookmaking operations on single events.
As of now, this is not permitted with the law currently stating that a bet must comprise of a minimum of two or more sporting events at a time.
Essentially though, the betting industry in Canada equates to a legalized grey area which allows for bettors and bookies to operate, pretty much as they wish. Internet betting and gambling as a whole has long been under the jurisdiction of each province that have been responsible for lotteries and brick-and-mortar casinos within their borders.
Alongside this, bettors are lured to a host of sports betting websites based offshore but with no such law in place offering guidance on betting online, the Canadian government are powerless to prevent it from occurring and often turn a blind eye. This, however, is set to change.
It won’t be too long before Canada join the US in regulating the gam industry
Like the US, those in power have come to realise that with the online betting industry only set to thrive further, the country may as well be in a position to capitalize on the many benefits, most notably, the sheer amount of money to be made.