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Exploring the Legality of NFL Sports Gambling Across the United States

The Issue of the NFL Sports Gambling Legality Across the US

Things can change in the blink of an eye. It wasn’t all that long ago that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seemed adamant about keeping gambling out of the NFL. It also wasn’t long ago that the United States had some of the strictest anti-sports gambling laws on the planet. Of course, there were good reasons for this. Mixing professional sports with gambling has led to some pretty notable scandals, including:

  • The 1919 Black Sox
  • Boston College Point-Shaving Scandal
  • Tim Donaghy Scandal
  • Art Schlichter
  • Pete Rose
  • Tulane Point Shaving

These are just a few of the many sports scandals that were related to sports betting.

The change has been dramatic. It all started in 2018 when the United States Supreme Court did away with the controversial PASPA law, which once essentially prohibited sports betting in most of the US. Just a month later, Delaware became the first state, excluding Nevada, to legalize sports betting. As of 2024, 38 states offer legal sports betting, and a few others seem poised to follow suit.

Then we have the NFL, which also made a complete U-turn. It’s not like the league has begrudgingly gone along with the changing times. No. The NFL has welcomed legalized sports gambling with open arms. The American Gaming Association says that legalized sports betting in the United States has added an additional $2.3 billion per year to the NFL’s coffers. Most NFL teams have developed betting partnerships with various sports betting companies, and some even have betting kiosks right in their stadiums.

Not All Sunshine and Lollipops

One of the biggest reasons for the NFL’s former stance against legalized gambling was that it put the integrity of the league and its players at risk. A player betting on European roulette is one thing. It’s a completely different story when they bet on sports. Especially their own sports.

Some players have already proven to be vulnerable. About a dozen NFL players have been suspended for betting on sports despite the rules being abundantly clear. However, it should be noted that similar occurrences have happened in the NBA, MLB, and NHL too. Recently, former Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter and former Pittsburgh Pirate infielder Tucupita Marcano were both kicked out of their respective leagues for life for their deplorable actions.

How is the Legal Landscape of NFL Betting Shaping Up?

With 38 states offering legalized NFL betting, it will be interesting to see which way the other 12 states go. During their last legislative sessions, bills were considered in Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Missouri. However, none of them passed. Still, this demonstrates that the possibility of legalized NFL betting exists in those states. 

On the flip side, no legislation has been proposed in California, Alaska, Utah, Idaho, or Alabama. Of these states, California, Alaska, and Utah seem to hold the strongest line against legalized sports betting. NFL bettors in those regions have to live with the prospect of not being able to bet on NFL games for a long time, if ever. The state with the brightest outlook is Missouri, which, according to bookmakers, has a 20% chance of legalizing sports betting in 2024.

When it comes to sports betting and casino gaming, the question of legalization involves more than mere political support. In most states, Native American tribes have control of gambling as set out in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Simply put, they don’t want to give up or share those massive gambling revenues. Who would?


In terms of increased revenues for the NFL and the states that allow gambling on NFL games, legalized NFL betting has been a success. And while a few states may never introduce it, we should see a few more states jump on the NFL betting bandwagon over the next couple of years. Nevertheless, it is also obvious that more needs to be done to protect the integrity of the NFL and other major North American sports.

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