For US citizens new to online sports betting, understanding what options are available to you, and the surrounding legality can be confusing.
In May 2018 the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that had previously banned sports betting in most states. Because of that decision, each state now has the right to legalize sports betting, both at casinos and online. When a state legalizes sports betting, operators are regulated by a state entity, usually the lottery or gaming commission.
What States Have Legal Sports Betting?
As of April 2020, the following states have some form of legal sports betting: Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. Some states only offer sports betting at physical sportsbooks, meaning casinos, racetracks, and gambling boats. Other states offer sports betting both online and at physical sportsbooks.
Each state has its own unique legislation regarding sports betting. Some states offer 20 different sportsbooks to choose from while other states only offer 1. Some states require you to signup in-person before betting online, although most states do not. Click on a state name to be directed to a page explaining the legislation and betting options available for that state.
What States Have Online Sports Betting?As of April 2020, the following states offer mobile betting: Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. In these states, you can bet on sports from your mobile device or laptop. In Iowa and Nevada, you must go to a casino first to register your account before being able to bet. Mississippi has mobile betting, but only on casino grounds, which defeats the point of having mobile betting. Colorado and Michigan have also legalized mobile online betting. Colorado residents can expect to place wagers as early as May 1st, 2020. Michigan residents will have to wait until 2021 to place online wagers.
What's available for the rest of us? For the majority of people who don't reside in one of the states listed above, there are other online sports betting options available, namely offshore sportsbooks.
What is Offshore Betting?Offshore betting is betting on sports online through an offshore sportsbook operated overseas. Offshore sportsbooks are not regulated by a US governing body. Some of these websites have been around since the birth of the internet. Although they service many countries, offshore sportsbooks cater to the US market because of its size, and the fact that US citizens have not had US regulated options for decades.
There are some offshore sportsbooks that can be untrustworthy or scam sportsbooks, so researching different offshore options is important before depositing money.
Is Offshore Betting Legal?
No, offshore sportsbooks like Bovada are not legal. Offshore sportsbooks are not legal because they are not overseen by a US regulatory body.
Despite being illegal, over the last 20+ years US citizens have placed millions of bets with offshore sportsbooks, like Bovada, without any interference from the state or federal government. The American Gaming Association estimates that over $150 billion is illegally wagered each year. Although offshore sportsbooks are not technically legal, they are valid options for US bettors without access to legal options. Offshore sportsbooks have become valid options because the United States has not had legal sports betting and because the government is unable to punish offshore operators or customers. Some offshore sportsbooks are loosely regulated by a foreign country. Top offshore sportsbooks, like most featured on BettingBuck, service hundreds of thousands of US customers.
I have had no issues withdrawing money with offshore sportsbooks over the years because I do my due diligence and bet with the most trustworthy offshore betting sites.
Advantages of Betting with a US Regulated Sportsbook
The biggest advantage of using a US regulated sportsbook or casino is the regulation that comes with it. You know that you are gambling in a safe, legalized, and US regulated environment.
The ability to bet from a mobile app will soon be an advantage many Americans will enjoy over offshore sportsbooks. Nevada and New Jersey currently offer an array of apps to bet from. In a few years, the online scene will be far more prominent.
Being able to walk into a casino, in a state with legalized sports betting, and bet on a game is a luxury that gamblers who bet offshore will not be able to have.
Disadvantages of Betting with a US Regulated Sportsbook
The biggest disadvantage of US regulated betting is the lack of availability. Only three states, New Jersey, Nevada, and West Virginia, have online or mobile options.
The second biggest disadvantage of onshore betting are the taxes associated with it. If your winnings are above $5,000 in the US, the payer, such as a casino, is required to withhold federal taxes. Effective this year, that withholding rate is 24%. While this likely only applies to professional bettors, it is worth mentioning.
Advantages of Betting with an Offshore Sportsbook
The most apparent advantage of offshore betting is that anyone in the US can do it. Most offshore sites accept residents of all 50 states. If you want to bet on sports and don’t live in Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia, you don’t have a choice. The most well-known offshore sportsbooks are a lot safer and offer a lot more than a local bookie running things remotely.
Disadvantages of Betting with an Offshore Sportsbook
Offshore sportsbooks are not legal, not regulated by a US governing body, and often not regulated at all.
Perhaps the second biggest disadvantage of offshore betting is the banking methods and fees that come with depositing and withdrawing. They typically limit withdrawal methods to checks, bank wires, or cryptocurrencies. Although deposit fees are rare, almost all offshore sportsbooks require withdrawal fees and withdrawal minimums if you are withdrawing your money via a non-cryptocurrency method. Fees for withdrawing money via a check are expensive and can often eclipse a staggering $50.
Thankfully cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals usually have low minimums and charge no fees.
Another disadvantage of offshore betting is the lack of a dedicated mobile app. While offshore sites allow you to bet from a mobile device on their website, none of the sites I have encountered have an app. As sports betting becomes more widespread in the US, this disadvantage will become more apparent.
For the BettingBuck.com annual best online sportsbooks review published in 2020, a total of 2,300 data points were collected over six months and used to score sportsbooks. Additionally, odds data was collected for each sportsbook on over 1,400 bets to give each sportsbook a comparative odds ranking.
Learn more about how we test.