Legalized sports betting in the US was a slow process, first battled in courtrooms, then in state legislatures. But now sports betting has all the momentum, having launched live or online in 14 states entering 2020 with several more states expected to come online soon. When given a choice, sports bettors clearly prefer to place their wagers online than at land-based sites. That means players must choose between an ever-growing selection of online sports betting websites, but deciphering the best ones can be a difficult task. That’s where Gambling.com can become a valuable resource.
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Gambling.com’s staff has evaluated and reviewed sports betting websites since the inception of online sports betting. We look for sites that provide bettors with the best overall mobile and online experience and only recommend sportsbooks that are legal and licensed in the state they operate in.
Gambling.com has developed a comprehensive process to evaluate each online sportsbook in the marketplace, and you won’t have to know about juice (vigorish), chalk (heavy favorite) and teasers (a bet with an adjusted point spread) to find our reviews valuable. Our reviewers actually sign up for accounts, wager and test software. Among the factors we consider:
Safety and service: We only recommend online sportsbooks that are legal and licensed in their respective states. We never recommend offshore-based sites, which are unregulated and risky. We also test customer support and response times.
Bonus offers and promotions: As the online sports betting marketplace grows, so do the number of bonuses, free bets and promotions offered to new players. We break down which bonus offers are the most lucrative and which may contain stringent wagering requirements.
Odds and pricing: Just as customers shop around when buying different forms of merchandise, the same is true with betting on sports online. Bettors should always be searching for the best prices. Signing up for more than one account can help ensure the best available odds.
Mobile options: No two sports betting mobile apps are the same. We test software speed, ease of use and total mobile experience for iOS and Android users on each betting app to find the best mobile betting experience for you.
Payment flexibility: Deposits and withdrawals to your account should be easy and without hassle. We examine all the options from e-wallets such as PayPal to Play+, bank transfers, PayNearMe, and credit and debit cards.
Online sports betting offers everything that land-based sportsbooks do, but with more convenience and options.
Online sportsbooks offer wagering 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the comfort of your desktop computer or smartphone. They also offer the opportunity to easily shop multiple sites in minutes.
Online sportsbooks allow wagering on all of the major professional sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL; major college sports; pro sports like golf, tennis, boxing and mixed martial arts; and international sports such as soccer and rugby. Options vary by state and online operator.
CHECK OUT: The Best NFL Betting Sites In Your State
The most common type of bet is point spread wagering, in which a team is favored by a specific number of points or goals, and bettors can choose the favorite or underdog.
Moneyline wagering does not include point spreads. Instead, wagers are made on a team to win the game with the moneyline odds set by the sportsbook. Others types of wagering available include parlays (a wager on two games or more), teasers (bettors can adjust the point spread for a game in exchange for reduced odds) and totals (a wager that the final score will be over or under the combined points or goals of both teams in a game).
Many online sportsbooks offer in-game wagering – live betting during sporting events – in which are bets placed on a mobile app or computer after the game has started.
Until 2018, Nevada was the only state allowed to legally offer sports betting. That changed when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which had limited sports betting to Nevada.
At the start of 2020, 14 states had legalized and launched sports betting. Not all of those state legislatures adopted the same approach, resulting in different laws and guidelines. Some states allow sports betting both online and at physical sites; some do not allow online wagering; others permit sports betting only at specific casinos.
A breakdown of U.S. sportsbook locations by state (with sports betting launch date):
Mobile betting is legal but currently not offered.
Learn more about NJ Sports Betting
Mobile sports betting is not offered with the exception of on-site at Pearl River Resort.
Learn more about WV Sports Betting
All land-based sportsbooks are located at tribal casinos and do not offer mobile wagering.
Learn more about PA Sports Betting
Mobile sports betting is not permitted.
Mobile sports betting is not permitted.
All players must register in person at an Iowa land-based casino to open an online account until January 2021.
All online sports betting in Oregon is available through the Oregon Lottery Scoreboard App.
Learn more about Indiana Sports Betting
States that passed sports betting legislation in 2019, but have not yet launched:
Washington D.C. legalized sports betting on Dec. 18, 2018, but has yet to launch.
1 in 4 adults in New Jersey and 1 in 5 adults in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Michigan plan to bet on March Madness, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Gambling.com.
The survey polled 1,000 adults in each of four key sports betting states: New Jersey and Pennsylvania, two of the most developed regulated sports betting markets in America, and Colorado and Michigan, two of the newest regulated sports betting markets in America.
Key findings include:
Sports betting is now regulated and taxed in 20 states. New Jersey and Pennsylvania were among the very first states to regulate sports betting in June and November 2018, respectively. Colorado and Michigan are two of the newest states to regulate sports betting in May 2020 and January 2021, respectively.
Gambling.com commissioned YouGov Plc. to conduct this survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Population estimates by Gambling.com based on U.S. Census data. Total sample size is 4,012 US adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between January 19-25, 2021. The survey was carried out online and the figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults aged 18 and over from each of the four states the survey was fielded in. A sports fan is defined as a respondent to select at least ‘I am a little bit interested in sports’ in a four-point scaled level of interest in sports question. An avid sports fan is defined as a respondent to select ‘This is one of my TOP interests’ in a four-point scaled level of interest in sports question OR Those to select top box in a four-point scaled level of interest in sports question.
Sports betting laws vary by state, but wagering is generally allowed on all major pro and college sports.
The most popular are football (NFL, NCAA Division I), basketball (NBA, NCAA Division I), baseball (MLB), hockey (NHL) and soccer (MLS, English Premier League, FIFA sanctioned events).
The list also includes golf (PGA Tour, LPGA, etc.), tennis (ATP, WTA), motorsports (NASCAR, Formula One, IndyCar), boxing, mixed martial arts and a variety of international sports.
Some states with legalized sports betting do not allow wagering on college sports teams from their state. For example, New Jersey sportsbooks prohibit betting on college sports involving in-state teams (such as Rutgers or Seton Hall) or college sporting events in the state. Oregon allows college sports betting at its land-based tribal casinos, but not on its online betting app.
To say that the major pro sports leagues have softened their public view on sports betting would be an understatement. All fought expensive court battles aiming to prohibit legalized sports wagering. Litigation dragged on for years until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, paving the way for sports betting outside Nevada.
Even before the decision, the NFL approved the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas (where they begin play in 2020). After the Supreme Court decision, the NBA, NHL and MLB signed deals with MGM Resorts to become official sports betting partners; and several pro sports teams, including the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and NFL’s New York Jets, signed deals with various sports betting partners. The pro sports leagues initially proposed the idea of an integrity fee, but the lawmakers crafting state betting laws have mostly resisted.
The NCAA continues to oppose all forms of sports wagering, citing previous college sports betting scandals. The NCAA prohibits its athletes and school administrators from wagering on sports and in 2019 declined to mandate the release of weekly injury reports.
Signing up should only take a few minutes, and online betting sites offer several options to fund your account.
The first step is to select a licensed online sportsbook. You will be guided to a registration process on your computer and asked to provide some personal information, such as first and last name, date of birth, email address and mailing address.
In addition, online sportsbook operators will likely require the last four digits of your Social Security number to verify identity and ensure the bettor is of legal age. Bettors may also be asked to download a GeoComply plug-in to verify location. Account holders must be physically located in that state to legally place a sports wager.
After registering, bettors can fund their account and begin betting on sports.
The best sports betting sites will offer all of the things that are most important to the account holder. That means a combination of:
A good starting point is to read the reviews on Gambling.com., then narrow your options. Make a small deposit at your top choices, claim the bonuses offered, and then continue to play where you feel most comfortable.
Most sportsbooks offer a variety of options for both, including:
Play+ | A prepaid credit card usually branded with the sportsbook owner. Enrollment is available on the website after registering and it’s free to apply. Once approved, the card is available immediately. Withdrawals can be transferred directly into your Play+ account and then cashed out at your ATM. Transactions take 1-2 days. You can use one Play+ card at multiple casinos as well.
E-wallets | E-wallets allow you to store funds, bank account and credit card information in a secure environment and transfer those funds to an online sportsbook account. The most popular e-wallets are PayPal, Neteller and Skrill. If you deposited funds from an e-wallet account, you can usually withdraw funds to that same account.
ACH/wire transfer | Available for deposits and withdrawals. ACH is a similar format to automatic bill-pay, where funds are transferred electronically from your bank account through an automated clearinghouse (ACH). A wire transfer is similar, but the transfer is between two accounts with no intermediary. Generally, wire transfers take less time than ACH transfers but have higher fees. Both methods tend to have higher limits, making them a preferred method for high rollers.
PayNearMe | Make a deposit with no bank account or credit card. Sign up and bring the provided PayNearMe barcode along with the cash you want to deposit to a 7-Eleven, CVS or Family Dollar in your state. The barcode is scanned and the funds deposited into your account.
Credit/debit cards | The most popular deposit option and the one that causes the most headaches. Some sportsbooks say they accept Visa, while others may accept MasterCard, but many financial institutions still automatically reject gambling deposits despite the fact that it has been legalized. Also note that some credit card companies charge fees for these transactions.
Casino cage | In most states, you can visit the cashier cage at the land-based casino that is partnered with your online sportsbook. You will need to present a photo ID. Processing is immediate.
The easy answer is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on May 14, 2018 to strike down PASPA, which had restricted single-game sports betting to Nevada. The decision paved the way for all states to move forward with their own sports betting laws and regulations to legalize sports betting in their jurisdictions.
But getting to that point wasn’t easy, with New Jersey at the forefront of a long and costly court battle.
New Jersey lawmakers in 2012 approved a sports betting bill that was challenged by the major sports leagues and NCAA, who immediately filed for an injunction. New Jersey lost the case in district court, appealed twice to Circuit Court, and lost both times. Its legal options nearly exhausted, the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which surprisingly agreed to hear the case.
The court voted 6-3 to overturn PASPA, placing sports betting into the hands of the states instead of the federal government. Less than a month later, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a NJ bill that allowed sports betting both online and at the state’s casinos and racetracks. More than a dozen other states have followed suit with sports betting legislation, though not all allow online sports betting.
Yes. States began legalizing online and land-based sports betting in 2018 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law that had limited sports betting to Nevada. By the end of 2019, more than dozen states were offering sports betting and six more had legalized sports betting but not yet launched. Laws vary by state, with not all allowing online sports wagering.
Sign up for an account in a state where online sports betting is legal. Deposit funds into your account and you’re ready to wager. You must be physically located within that state to legally place a bet. Geolocation technology tracks your location.
Yes, as long as you are wagering with a legal, state-licensed sportsbook. Offshore-based sportsbooks are not safe because they are unregulated and leave account holders with no recourse if they shut down.
The most common sports bets are point spread bets. If the Kansas City Chiefs are 2.5-point favorites over the San Francisco 49ers, the Chiefs must win by three points or more to cover the spread. If you pick the underdog Niners, they must lose by two points or less, tie, or win the game to cash your bet. A moneyline wager is a bet on a team to win the game with no point spread involved. If the Los Angeles Lakers are -140 against the Philadelphia 76ers, who are +120, bettors on the favored Lakers must wager $140 to win $100. Bettors on the underdog Sixers bet $100 to win $120. Odds are available on several other type of bets, including parlays (a wager on two or more teams to win); futures (a bet to be determined in the future, such as who will win the Super Bowl next season); and in-game betting (placed after a game or event has already started).
Nevada handles more sports betting revenue than any other state, but the lead is dwindling. Since the repeal of PASPA through 2019, Nevada handled $8.3 billion in sports wagering, followed by New Jersey ($5.8 billion) and Pennsylvania ($1.5 billion). New Jersey, however, eclipsed Nevada’s monthly sports betting handle for the first time in May 2019, then did so again in July and August.
The best sports betting app is the one that works best for you and is offered by a licensed sportsbook in your state. Generally, the best apps offer the widest selection of games, odds and in-game betting opportunities; the top bonuses and promotions; and betting platform that is both fast and user-friendly.
Sports betting winnings are fully taxable, according to the IRS. State taxes on sports betting winnings vary by state.
The two are different. In daily fantasy sports, you are betting against other fantasy sports players in a league, tournament or contest setting. You are also betting on the performances and statistics of individual players. In sports betting, you are betting against the house in a game or event with fixed odds. Sports bettors generally wager on outcomes, not player statistics. Are you interested in betting on daily fantasy sports? View the best daily fantasy sports betting sites here!
A good first step is to contact a problem gambling support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous (gamblersanonymous.com) or the National Council on Problem Gambling (ncpgambling.org). In addition, many states require online sportsbooks to post a responsible gaming link on their website that allows players to self-exclude or set deposit, spending and time limits that take effect immediately.
"An experienced bettor with a decade writing about sports and gambling, Dan's expertise includes college football, college basketball, golf, the NFL and more."
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