Best US Sports Betting Sites - Our Top Legal Sportsbooks for 2019
After almost six years, New Jersey finally won its day in court in May 2018, when the Supreme Court handed down a monumental decision, declaring the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional, which effectively paved the way for states across the country to offer legalized sports betting.
New Jersey argued PASPA, which Congress passed in 1992, violated the 10th Amendment that reserves to the states all powers that aren’t “delegated to the federal government.” The law had stated that any state that did not have a legalized sports betting law already on its books by 1992 was banned from doing so going forward. That left only four states – Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana – with the right to offer legalized sports betting.
The Supreme Court’s decision reversed that law, leaving it up to each state to pass its own laws to regulate sports betting, just as they have the ability to do with state-run and regulated lotteries and casinos. Each state’s rules and regulations surrounding sports betting are different. So, just because PASPA has been overturned doesn’t mean you are free to legally bet on sports across the country.
New Jersey was the first state to move forward with legalized sports betting, passing a bill on June 11, 2018, with the first bet being placed by Governor Phil Murphy on June 14. DraftKings Sportsbooks was the first company to offer an online sportsbook in the state, launching its mobile app on August 1.
Since then, five other states have fully legalized sports betting, with two others close to doing so. A plethora of other states have introduced bills that seek to legalize and regulate sports betting, while 12 have done nothing at all.
The rules in New Jersey are perhaps the most liberal, following the formula created by the industry leader – Nevada. The Garden State fully legalized sports betting and quickly expanded to allow mobile sports betting outside of casinos or physical sportsbooks. New Jersey’s law states that players must be over the age of 21 to participate, and they must be physically in the state to legally place a bet.
You do not have to be a resident of New Jersey to place an online bet there; you just need to be physically located there. At the same token, even if you are a resident of New Jersey, you will be prohibited from placing an online sports bet if you are physically out of the state. Each online sportsbook’s mobile or online platform will use location software to verify your current location before allowing you to proceed.
Currently, there are 13 places that offer online and mobile sportsbooks in New Jersey. Each are required to have a land-based licensing partner in order to operate. The 13 online/mobile sportsbooks in the state, with the licensing partner in parenthesis, are:
- DraftKings (Resorts Casino)
- playMGM (Borgata Casino)
- Play SugarHouse (Golden Nugget)
- Fanduel (The Meadowlands)
- William Hill (Monmouth Park)
- Caesars (Caesars Casino)
- 888 Sport NJ (Caesars Casino)
- BetStars (Resorts)
- Hard Rock (Hard Rock)
- BetAmerica (Golden Nugget)
- Golden Nugget (Golden Nugget)
- Resorts (Resorts)
- PointsBet (The Meadowlands)
Some of the factors that you should take into consideration are:
- Sports and type of wagers offered
- Deposit and withdrawal options and limits
- Bonuses and promotions offered
- Ease of use
Where can you bet on sports legally online?
Currently, there are five states that offer legal online sports betting. They are:
- Nevada, which offered the service before the overturn of PASPA
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
In addition, online sports betting has been legalized in Delaware, but it is not fully offered as of yet. New York, Rhode Island, Michigan, Connecticut and California may end up passing laws allowing online sports betting sometime in 2019.
Best New Jersey sports betting sites
As mentioned above, there are currently 13 sites that offer online sports betting in New Jersey. DraftKings Sportsbook was not only the first to offer it, but it is also one of the most popular because of its high usage among players who participated in daily fantasy sports on the app prior to their online sportsbook launching. For the same reason, Fanduel ranks high on the list.
William Hill is one of the most respected online sportsbook providers and is highly recommended. In addition to operating in New Jersey, William Hill has been doing so in Nevada for a few years now, so it has the experience and reputation.
playMGM and Caesars also have the benefit of operating sportsbooks in Nevada before expanding to New Jersey when it was legalized in 2018, giving them a leg up on some of the others as well.
Best Nevada sports betting sites
Nevada has always been the leader in sports betting. The state’s laws did not change at all with the overturning of PASPA, as it already offered sports betting before the law was initially passed in 1992. In fact, it was the only state in the nation that offered full-scale sports betting, including online sports betting.
New Jersey’s rules and regulations for online sports betting following Nevada’s closely. One slightly variation here, though, is that players have to sign up for an account at a casino in-person first before they can activate their online account. Once their account has been established and opened, then geolocation technology will be used to verify that the player is physically in the state of Nevada before allowing them to proceed with placing an online sports wager.
Some of the top online sports betting sites in Nevada are:
- GT Bets
- William Hill
Best West Virginia sports betting sites
West Virginia was the fifth state to offer legalized sports betting when it passed a law regulating the practice in August 2018. The state followed that up with legalized online sports wagering that December.
Five locations have been approved to offer sports betting in West Virginia, but currently only three do so – the Hollywood Casino, The Greenbrier and the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort. Both the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort and the Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack were approved to do so in late December 2018, but both are temporarily suspended.
The ability to wager on sports online only began in December of last year in West Virginia, with FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook and BetLucky approved to do so.
Pennsylvania sports betting sites
Legal sports betting began in Pennsylvania in November 2018 when The Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course accepted the first wager. Since then, seven other sportsbooks followed suit, giving the state a total of eight sportsbooks in operation. Those operators are:
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course (Grantville)
- SugarHouse Casino (Philadelphia)
- Rivers Casino (Pittsburgh)
- Parx Casino and Racing (Bensalem)
- South Philadelphia Turf Club (Philadelphia)
- Harrah’s Philadelphia (Chester)
- Valley Forge Casino (King of Prussia)
- Valley Forge Turf Club (Oaks)
There are five other sportsbooks close to launching operations in Pennsylvania, including Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Mount Airy Casino Resort and the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.
Online sports betting has been legalized in Pennsylvania, but no sites are currently in operation. However, they are expected to begin offering online sports betting options sometime in the second quarter of this year. FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, Parx Sportsbook and SugarHouse Sportsbook are all leading the charge here.
Mississippi sports betting sites
Mississippi was well prepared for the overturn of PASPA long before it happened, as the state passed a law in 2017 that would pave the way for legalization of sports betting there once PASPA was overturned. Like New Jersey, Mississippi already had legal casinos operating in the state – Tunica is the third largest gambling region in the country behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City - and so it was ready to move forward to offer sports betting quickly.
Mississippi ultimately legalized sports betting in June 2018, and more than 30 locations offer in-person sports betting. As of now, all sports betting must be done in-person. Online sports wagering has not been legalized in Mississippi yet. The state does allow for mobile wagering while you are on a casino property, but only one tribal casino has launched it so far.
What other states will offer sports betting sites?
There are currently three other states that have passed legalized sports betting and offering it to players – Delaware, New Mexico and Rhode Island. Of those three, Delaware is the closest to offering online sports wagering. The state has actually legalized the activity, but it is not currently offered anywhere.
In New Mexico, a tribal group currently offers online sports betting, but the activity is prohibited under state law everywhere else. Rhode Island’s sports betting law was passed last year on November 26, and only two sites are allowed to do so. The state doesn’t allow online sports betting, and there is no indication yet that they will.
New York and Arkansas are perhaps the next two states in line to offer legalized sports betting. Lawmakers in New York introduced a bill in 2018 that would have legalized sports betting in the state, but the measure failed. It’s possible a similar bill could be re-introduced in 2019, though.
Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment called “Issue 4” that would expand gambling in four counties in the state and legalize sports betting as well. The measure has not been fully adopted, though, and it is anticipated that it will take months to do so.
What the national leagues say about sportsbooks online
The NFL was the perhaps the league that fought the most against legalized sports betting prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, but it is also the league that could stand to benefit the most. In fact, the American Gaming Association predicted in September that the NFL could see an annual increase in revenue of $2.3 billion from legalized sports wagering in the form of advertising, sponsorships, ticket sales and increased viewership.
Still, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell fought vigorously against the legalization of sports betting, claiming the possible downfalls. Once PASPA was overturned, Goodell and the league pushed Congress to enact nationwide regulations on sports gambling to institute consumer protections, allow the leagues to protect their content and intellectual property, give fans access to official league data, and give law enforcement the resources to protect fans against bad actors.
Despite their stance against sports gambling, or at least their desire to protect the league and its fans, the NFL is preparing for one of its most storied franchises, the Raiders, to move to Las Vegas in 2020. So, the league is clearly accepting of the new marketplace for sports gambling and the possible benefits it can provide.
The NBA has taken the most progressive approach to legalized sports betting among professional sports leagues. In September, the NBA announced it had entered into a deal to make MGM the league’s official gaming partner.
As part of the deal, MGM received the rights to NBA league and team logos, access to the league’s official data feed, highlights and the label of being the official partner. In exchange, the NBA received a deal reported to be about $25 million over three years.
In October, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that he thinks it is good that sports betting is offered legally and regulated, as opposed to unregulated and illegal forms of betting that were already happening before the repeal of PASPA.
Still, the NBA and Silver have pushed for what it calls an “integrity fee” – basically a portion of all legal sports wagering going directly to the NBA and other sports leagues to uphold the integrity of the game. Such a measure hasn’t gotten much traction yet, and it is unclear if it ever will.
The NBA does strictly prohibit gambling on games through the Ontario Lottery, which directly affects the Toronto Raptors, who play in the province of Ontario.
Like the NBA, the NHL is another progressive league when it comes to sports betting. The expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights were approved way back in 2016 and started playing in Las Vegas for the 2017-2018 season, before PASPA was even overturned.
In October, the NHL also announced MGM Resorts as its official sports betting partner in a similar deal to the one struck by the NBA. Commissioner Gary Bettman openly talked about legalized sports gambling back in May, stating the league is just looking for consistently to protect the rules of the game and the types of bets that are being allowed – preferring that Congress step in to make even regulations across the country.
The NHL is not in favor of an integrity fee, though, because Bettman says he’s not worried about the integrity of the league’s players or referees.
Major League Baseball was long wary of legalized sports betting, but their tone seemed to change in the fall once the league knew there was nothing it could do to prevent it. In November, MLB because the third professional league to partner with MGM as their official betting partner.
Despite that deal, the MLB has stuck to its guns in strongly stating that it believes the league should be getting a cut of all sports gambling revenue in all states. The league proposed a .25 percent fee that it has basically said is a royalty fee casino companies should pay if they are going to be profiting off MLB.
That push from MLB and other leagues has made no progress so far, especially as Las Vegas has been operating this way for years, with no pushback in the form of integrity or royalty fees being demanded by the leagues.
The NCAA continues to vehemently oppose all forms of sports wagering, even as the overturn of PASPA is coming up on a full year now. In fact, during the Men’s Basketball Tournament, the NCAA is running ads and promos at arenas to convince fans not to bet on games, with its “Don’t Bet On It” campaign.
Now that the reality is here that sports betting is legal, the NCAA has shifted its attention to strongly support federal regulation that would address legalized gambling. The NCAA instituted a policy to ban all sports gambling sponsorships and advertising for all NCAA championships and Football Bowl Subdivision bowls.
The NCAA is also considering a ban on holding championship games in states where sports gambling is legal, although the temporary policy that went into effect immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision has been suspended.
The PGA has fully embraced legalized sports betting, even if it took the league a little while to get to that point. At first, the PGA petitioned with other major sports leagues to fight against the overturn of PASPA, and then once it was overturned, they joined the fight to try to institute integrity fees.
Now, though, the PGA has taken the opposite stance, embracing legalized sports betting and what it could do for the sport. The league is investigating partnerships and sponsorships that could help increase interest in the sport through the lens of sports wagering.
Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, has said he believes legalized sports betting will enhance interest in the game of golf. In the fall, the PGA even took a progressive stance on the topic when it sponsored a challenge match between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods that was basically a $10 million bet on who would win – including prop bets as the matchup was taking place.
NASCAR has thrown its full support behind legalized sports gambling, with league executive Steve O’Donnell even saying he wanted NASCAR to go “all in” on gambling last year. For the 2019 season, the league is fully prepped.
One of NASCAR’s tracks, Dover International Speedway in Delaware, even opened an on-site kiosk for fans to bet on the race they were attending – much in the way that attendees do when they go a horse racing track.
NASCAR did institute some rules and regulations regarding gambling on the members of its league, though. Drivers and team members are banned from either disclosing confidential information about cars or races, and they are also banned from betting on races. This is similar to bans other leagues have instituted on the inside participants of their sports.
History of online sports betting in the U.S.
Offshore sportsbooks began to take advantage of the development of high-speed and mobile internet access by offering wagers on sports around the globe. That all ended for the U.S. in 2006, though, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 basically prevented payments from being used for online gambling. For the most popular online sports betting sites, that effectively put an end to offshore sports wagering.
Before the overturn of PASPA last year, Nevada was the only state to allow legal online sports wagering. Only a few sportsbooks allowed the practice, and a person had to sign up for an account and make a deposit in-person at a sponsoring casino sportsbook. Then, that person had to be located within Nevada’s borders in order to place an online sports wager.
New Jersey was quick to not only offer legalized sports betting in the state, but mobile sports wagering as well. Mobile wagering on sports began in the Garden State on August 1, 2018, and there are currently 13 online sportsbooks operating in the state.
New Jersey’s rules follow Nevada’s very similarly. While you do have to be physically located in New Jersey to legally place an online sports wager, you do not have to go to a casino in person to sign up for or fund your account.
West Virginia quickly approved sports betting in the state, offering it as of August. It took the state a few months to approve online sports wagering, as that passed in December 2018.
Currently, only three online sportsbooks have been approved to offer online sports wagering in the state - FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook and BetLucky.
Pennsylvania took much of 2018 to get sports betting legalized, with it finally becoming legal in December 2018. The state also knew it was going to have to compete with neighboring New Jersey in all facets, and so it quickly moved to legalize online sports betting as well.
Online sports wagering has been legalized in Pennsylvania, but there are no sites currently up and running as of yet. However, some of are expected to launch in the late spring or early summer.
The American Gaming Association (AGA)
The American Gaming Association has long argued that banning sports betting has only forced the inevitable activity to go underground. The AGA claimed for a long time that sports betting interest has only risen dramatically since the passing of PASPA in 1992. It often cited estimates that Americans wagered more than $150 billion per year illegally on sports. Instead of banning the practice, then, the AGA fought to have PASPA overturned and allow the states and the U.S. to regulate the practice, providing consumer protections, while also capitalizing on all that lost tax revenue.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the AGA has continued its fight to expand legalized sports wagering in all states, and in both in-person and mobile forms to increase tax revenue and jobs across the country.
Mobile betting sites
With the legalization of online sports betting in states such as New Jersey, there is a strong need for solid, trustworthy mobile betting sites. Plenty of operators hit the market almost immediately in New Jersey, and more are likely to follow in the Garden State and others as the laws expand.
What banking options are there?
One of the biggest questions is how can you fund your account at an online sportsbook in a place such as New Jersey. At a popular mobile sportsbooks such as DraftKings Sportsbook, for example, there are various funding options.
You can choose from Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Skrill, a Play+ Prepaid Card or a direct bank transfer using a checking or savings account. One thing you do have to keep in mind is that although mobile sports wagering is legal in New Jersey, some banking institutions will prohibit deposits to online gambling sites.
This is how easy it is to sign up!
Online sportsbooks have made signing up extremely easy for new players. To sign up, all you need to do is go to the mobile site, https://sportsbook.draftkings.com for example, and click sign up.
From there, you’ll need to choose a username, email and password for your account and verify all your personal information to set up your account. The DraftKings Sportsbook software will then verify your current location using geolocation tools, and if it verifies you are in New Jersey, your account will be opened and you’ll be able to deposit funds and start betting.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sports Betting Sites in the U.S.
Q: How do the geolocation services work for sports betting sites?
A: You must allow a geolocation service that is installed at the online sportsbook you want to use to access your location. By turning on or allowing this location service, you will be allowing the online sportsbook to verify that you’re currently physically located in the state of New Jersey, for example, when you’re trying to place a wager from your device. One it successfully verifies this, you’ll be able to access the site and place bets.
Q: Can I place a bet in another state if I’m a resident of New Jersey?
A: No. Even though you are a resident of a state that allows online sports betting, you can only do so if you’re physically located in the state at the time when you try to access the online sportsbook.
Q: Can I access my online sportsbook account in a state the doesn’t allow online sports gambling?
A: Yes. You can make deposits and withdraws to your online sportsbook account in another state that does not permit online sports gambling. You just will not be able to place a wager in those states.
Q: Why do I have to provide my Social Security number to set up an online sportsbook account?
A: Part of federal and state laws regarding legalized sports betting require online sportsbooks to verify the age and identity of all their players. They also must adhere to all anti-money laundering laws that require them to record the name, address, Social Security number and other important information of all their bettors.