Sports betting is finally legal in a good part of the United States and we have everything you need to get started with it in one place. On this page, you will find the list of the very best online sportsbooks in the US, along with all the information you could need on the advantages of legal sportsbooks and more.
It is important to note that online sports betting is relatively new in the US, and legal sports betting as such has only been available for a few years outside of Nevada. Before this, much of the sports betting done in the US was done with illegal bookies who had no gaming licenses.
This was all due to the federal law called PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), which prohibited states from offering sports betting in any capacity before 2018.
The Act, which was made into law in 1992, stood for a long time before it was finally repealed in 2018 and New Jersey became the first state outside of Nevada to offer sports betting.
Today, with the unconstitutional Act out of the way, sports fans in many states can place bets on their favorite sports teams with completely legal bookmakers. Keep reading to find out why you should choose these bookmakers, what sites are the best, and how you can find them.
Finding the Best Legal Bookmakers in the US
Online betting is quite new in the US, so you cannot be blamed for not knowing exactly what the difference is between regulated and unregulated sportsbooks. To help you find the right bookmakers, here are a few things you should be on the lookout for that will tell you a brand is actually licensed in your legal jurisdiction:
- State Regulator’s Seal of Approval: The most recognizable of all the signs of licensing, regulator’s seal of approval is issued by the state gaming regulator and displayed visibly on the operator’s website. You can check if the seal is genuine by checking the regulator’s website as well.
- Licensed in Your State: Since the law currently dictates that operators must be regulated in each state they operate in, you should be able to find information on local licensing. If a site advertises as a US betting site, they are not legal, since there are no federally licensed sports betting operators at this moment.
- TV Commercials: Another easy way to know an operator is licensed in your state is if you keep seeing the ads for it on TV. Illegal bookmakers cannot advertise on TV in the US, so any ads you do see are 100% from licensed bookmakers.
- Telephone Customer Support: While offshore bookmakers sometimes do offer a phone landline you can call, this is more often not the case. Licensed bookies offer support via toll-free local landlines you can call during business hours.
- Big Brand Names: The online bookmakers getting licenses in various states are usually big brands you have heard of. The likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, or BetMGM will definitely not be offering services in your state before they get their gaming license.
Why Are Legal Sportsbooks Better?
If you have been into sports betting for a while, you may have gotten used to betting with offshore sites that offer low security and absolutely no assurances of your safety.
This has all changed now, so let’s talk about the reasons why you should bet with legal sportsbooks that are actually licensed in your jurisdiction instead of offshore sites that have no gaming license.
- Right to Privacy is Protected: All online gambling operators require you to share personal information during account registration. Licensed sites will make sure this information is kept private and not shared with any third parties, which is a big upside.
- Better Security: Even unintentionally, illegal sportsbooks can share your personal or banking information with third parties as a result of hacks. The security used by licensed US bookmakers is of the highest level and very difficult to get around.
- Headquartered in America: Since you are now dealing with actual American bookmakers, you can resolve any disputes you may have with them legally. Being able to take your sportsbook to court means you will be in a more advantageous position if any problems do occur.
- Banking Made Simple: American banks are not allowed to process deposits into offshore gambling sites, which can make it very difficult to make such deposits. On the other hand, depositing with a local bookmaker is as simple as making an online purchase, and all you need is a working credit card.
- Your Funds are Safe: There have been multiple incidents of offshore bookies taking off with their players’ money and riding off into the sunset. American bookmakers must keep their users’ money segregated from operating funds and don’t have the luxury of tampering with the funds you deposit into your balance.
More Value – Betting Bonuses & Promotions
There are many advantages to betting online instead of live, and the ability to claim various betting bonuses and promotions is one of them. The betting market in most states is fresh, which means sportsbooks are competing for your loyalty, and this means juicy bonuses and plenty of promos.
If you are looking to get the absolute best value for every dollar you wager, you should always be looking to boost your bankroll with some bonus money. Here is what you can expect from licensed US bookmakers:
As a new player with any licensed bookmaker in the US, you can expect to get a welcome bonus the first time you make a deposit. The value of the deposit bonus may vary, but they all match your initial deposit in full, up to a certain amount.
This means you could get a few hundred dollars to bet with, and there will be no risk involved. This is why these are often called risk-free bets.
The proceeds of the risk-free bet are yours to keep, with most US bookmakers only having minimal wagering requirements attached to their bonuses, unlike the offshore or international sportsbooks.
Other bookmakers will actually add cash to your balance as well, which you can use as you see fit, and the minimal wagering requirements will also apply.
The one thing to keep in mind is that you can’t just take your money and leave, as you will have to wager it at least one time before any cashouts can be requested.
Boosted Odds and Free Bets
The welcome bonus you get from your bookmaker is only the first thing you can expect to see after joining. On top of that, there will be many other promotions you can take part in, and these will become available over time, with new promotions popping up often.
Special promotions are often launched during the big sporting events, such as Super Bowl, and you will have a great chance to capitalize on those. On top of that, recurring promotions are also available, which you can use at any time.
Some of the popular promotion types include boosted odds, where odds for a certain betting market are artificially increased for your benefit, and free bets, which are awarded to players who have already made a real money bet, allowing them to place another bet without any risk.
The more sports betting sites you are involved with, the more opportunities you will have to participate in promotions that offer extra value and give you a better shot at walking away a winner.
Why Are Online Sportsbooks Better Than Live?
For the longest time, in-person betting was the only kind allowed in the US. With online betting now a possibility in many states, let’s weigh the pros and cons of the two and find out what makes online sports betting better than live betting at a casino.
- Bet at Your Convenience: If there is one advantage of online betting, it is convenience. If you have an online betting account, you can bet anytime and anyplace, and there will be very few restrictions imposed on you. Simply take out your phone and you could place your bet within seconds.
- Live Betting: Live sports betting is available in live sportsbooks as well, but that means you have to watch the matches there, which is not ideal. Now you can sit back at home, open a can of beer, and place your live bets from the comfort of your own home.
- More Betting Markets: Live sportsbooks have been transformed in recent years and there are more betting markets available now than ever before. Yet, nothing can match the selection of online bookmakers, where thousands of betting options could be offered for just a single match.
- Bonuses & Promotions: Once again, online bettors are at an advantage. The bonuses and promotions offered by online bookmakers are by far superior to any extra value you might get from your live bookie, which makes them a better option in terms of value.
- Bet Safely: If you want to bet for significant amounts in a live sportsbook, you may be forced to carry cash with you and expose yourself to dangers. Online betting is extra safe, and no one will even know you are betting, let alone for how much.
- Privacy Protection: Betting live means walking into a sportsbook and placing your bet, which means you could be seen. Not everyone wants this and your right to remain private is now protected better than ever. Your online betting profile is yours alone and no one will know of it unless you choose to tell them.
How to Sign Up with a Regulated US Sportsbook?
So you are ready to start betting with a licensed bookmaker in your state? You can get set up within minutes, and here are the simple steps you need to follow to get you started:
- Pick Your Sportsbook: Most states offer multiple licensed sports betting sites. Check out the offer and pick one of the sites that are offered.
- Register for an Account: Now that you know which bookie you want to play with, it’s time to create your account. Fill out the registration form with your personal details.
- Confirm Your Identity: You may be asked to confirm your identity in several ways. You will need to confirm your email and phone number, as well as provide a partial SSN. All this info will be held 100% safely and privately by the operator.
- Make Your Deposit: Now that you have a sports betting account, it is time to load it up with cash. Place your first deposit, claim your welcome bonus, and get ready for action.
- Make Your First Bet: You can now bet on anything you want. The selection of betting markets will become available to you, and you can place bets as you see fit. Make sure to use your risk-free bets or bonuses in the best way possible.
Where is Online Betting Legal?
We have mentioned that online sports betting is becoming legal in more and more jurisdictions, but which states exactly is it legal in? Here is a full list of states where you can legally bet on sports online with fully regulated betting sites:
- Nevada: Long a home of sports betting in the US, Nevada is now no longer the only state where you can bet on sports, but it is by far the one with the longest tradition.
- New Jersey: The state that fought legislators on the matter of PASPA and won, New Jersey was the first state outside of Nevada where online sports betting became a reality.
- West Virginia: West Virginia was among the first states to allow for online sports betting in 2018, shortly after retail sports betting was launched with the Hollywood Casino’s opening.
- Pennsylvania: Another state that launched sports betting in 2018, Pennsylvania has become one of the biggest markets for online gambling in the US.
- Rhode Island: A small an unassuming state, Rhode Island made retail betting available in just a couple of locations, with online sports betting being the biggest part of the market.
- New York: New York came to the dance quite late, but with the launch of legal betting it quickly became one of the biggest markets in the US, with millions of sports fans eager to get into the action.
- Iowa: Featuring multiple sports betting operators, Iowa is another one of the major betting markets that’s been around since 2019.
- Oregon: Oregon was one of the few states that allowed for betting in some capacity before 2019 as well, so it came as little surprise when they used the repealing of PASPA to launch their own sports betting operators.
- Indiana: You can legally place online sports bets from Indiana on just about anything, barring local college sports teams, which are off-limits to bettors in the state.
- New Hampshire: The first sports bet in New Hampshire was placed by the state’s governor in late 2019, and online betting has been available ever since.
- Illinois: The state of Illinois only made sports betting legal in 2020, but is now a major market for it with a number of online bookmakers offering their services.
- Michigan: A big online gambling market, Michigan opened up to sports betting in March 2020 and quickly grew into one of the major players in the industry.
- Colorado: Another state to launch sports betting in 2020, Colorado allowed for sports betting with a narrow margin, with many citizens apparently not supporting it.
- Washington D.C.: Online betting in the capital can be done via GameBetDC, the major betting site that was launched in June 2020.
- Tennessee: One of the few states to only offer online betting, Tennessee launched its first sites in November 2020 and does not offer any live betting locations.
- Virginia: The first legal online bets in Virginia were made in early 2021, as the state was one of the latest additions to the betting market.
- Wyoming: Online sports betting in Wyoming started in September 2021, and while the state is not a major sports betting market, you can now legally place your wagers within it.
- Arizona: Both fantasy sports and sports betting were made legal in 2021 in Arizona, with the tribal gaming operators offered exclusivity in partnership with major sports betting operators.
- Connecticut: Another state that only started offering sports betting services in 2021, Connecticut bans betting on local college teams and offers both retail and online betting.
- Maryland: With sports betting passing the public ballot by a 2-1 margin, sports betting was launched in Maryland in late 2021.
- Louisiana: Louisiana was one of the latest states to join the legal sports betting circle by allowing both retail and online betting to launch in late 2021.
Short History of US Sports Betting
Sports betting has a long and rich history in the United States, with many twists and turns that shaped it throughout the years. Here are the most important events that happened over the years that brought sports betting in the US to where it is today.
- The Wire Act is Passed (1961): This act was passed in 1961 in an attempt to fight organized crime. Placing sports bets across state lines was forbidden, and the use of telephones was mentioned in the Act in particular.
- PASPA Is Passed (1992): The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was designed to prohibit sports betting even within state lines. As of 1992, betting on sports was banned in nearly all states within the US.
- UIGEA Is Passed (2006): The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act targeted online gambling in particular, with offshore sites in the focus. It became very difficult for US players to bet on offshore platforms after this, as US banks were banned from processing deposits into such sites.
- New Jersey Starts Fighting PASPA (2011): The state of New Jersey begins a legal battle to repeal PASPA and allow betting within state lines. The battle takes years, but eventually comes to fruition.
- **The US Supreme Court Repeals PASPA (2018*): Finally, after years of battling, the US Supreme Court finds PASPA to be unconstitutional. States are now allowed to define sports betting within their borders as they see fit.
- Legalization Starts: One by one, states begin creating a legal framework to allow sports betting within their borders. As of today, more than half the states have legalized sports betting, with more working on the laws to do so at the moment.
Are online sportsbooks legal in the United States?
Yes, online sports betting is partially legal in the United States, but the activity is not regulated on the federal level. This means that every state has the right to regulate it as it sees fit. You can bet on sports in many US states, but not in all of them.
Why should I bet with legal US online sportsbooks?
There are many advantages to sticking to licensed and regulated US sportsbooks. The biggest ones are the safety of your funds, the protection of your sensitive private information, and the fact there is a regulatory body you can turn to in case of any disputes. None of these things hold true when you bet with an offshore operator.
How can I be certain an online sportsbook is legal and licensed in the US?
A regulated US online sportsbook will have a seal of approval from the relevant regulator (such as the NJDGE or PGCB) featured on the site. Furthermore, licensed sites only accept players physically present in the state they are licensed in (not from the entire US), do not accept deposits in cryptocurrencies, and usually have a local phone number and business address.
Do US online sportsbooks offer bonuses for new and existing players?
Yes, of course. New players can take advantage of all sorts of bonuses and free bet offers available at regulated US sportsbooks. Existing customers get to enjoy occasional promotions that come in the form of deposit bonuses, free bets, odds boosts, and more.