Sport betting has undergone an incredible transformation over the past four years. Not so long ago, the topic was a controversial one. Here we take a closer look about legal sport betting including an interactive map. With a few isolated exceptions across the USA, sports books were operated in the shadows. The Hollywood depiction of shady bookies taking under-the-table bets from shady gamblers in the shady back rooms of shady bars was really not so far from the truth.
The Fall of PASPA
Everything changed in 2018 when the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was a federal law that essentially meant sports betting was prohibited in all but a handful of specific locations. In striking it down, the Supreme Court placed the choice in the hands of each state as to whether it would allow sports betting, and to carve out its own legislation.
This is an important detail, as although more than 30 states have chosen to allow sports betting, each has passed its own specific laws. So for example, you might see legal sports betting on Unibet Arizona where you can place bets online from your desktop or smartphone. This is quite different to what is allowed in South Dakota, where you can only bet on sports in person at physical casinos in the city of Deadwood.
Let’s take a closer look at what is permitted where.
Online and in Person Legal Sport Betting
Unsurprisingly, the majority of states that decided to legalize sports betting chose to do so in full, permitting adults to place wagers either online or in person at a licensed sports book. 21 states fall into this category, including Arizona, as mentioned earlier, plus New Jersey, which was the state that really championed the sports betting cause and was instrumental in getting PASPA struck down. Other high-profile states in this category include Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, and Washington DC.
Two states that legalized sports betting in 2020 do not have facilities to place bets in person. These are Tennessee and Wyoming. In the case of Tennessee, this is unlikely to change any time soon. Wyoming could be a different matter, as there are four tribal casinos in the state, so it is conceivable that they might start offering sports betting in the near future.
Those more conservative states baulked at the idea of online sports betting. Concerns were raised on how to ensure sports betting sites were not being accessed by minors, not to mention the question of whether gamblers were really within the state. We already mentioned South Dakota. There are seven others, including North Dakota, Washington and Delaware.
Of those that are left, there are some, like Maine, that have fully legalized but not set up any infrastructure to begin as yet. Others are likely to legalize later this year, in particular California. If the Union’s most populous state legalizes, the consequences are likely to be dramatic and those that are still undecided and need one more prompt will almost certainly follow on California’s coat tails.