It’s been three years since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting, allowing states to legalize it if they wish. Many states now have some form of legal sports betting. From coast to coast, state legislatures and ballot initiatives are opening new avenues for fans to put down some action on their favorite teams. Some states with legal sports betting allow wagering via online betting sites and mobile devices, while others require bettors to visit a retail sportsbook or casino to place their bets in person. Nearly every state has at least considered legal sports betting, but the reality is that full online sports betting will not come to more than a dozen states for a long time due to deep-seated political opposition to gambling or complex tribal relationships. Nevertheless, here we will take a quick look at the states where sports betting is legal in some form.
Colorado – Colorado accepted its first online and retail wagers in 2020 and has quickly turned into one of the most robust markets with all the major players involved, including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and BetRivers from day one. Thus, sports betting in Colorado is now one of the biggest in the US, and in September 2020, the state joined Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana among states to record more than $200 million in monthly betting handle. Colorado has one of the most operator-friendly setups in the country as noted by gamblecolorado.com with more than two-dozen digital sportsbooks are expected to be live there in the coming years.
Arkansas – Legal sports betting started in Arkansas on July 1, 2019, at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. An additional sportsbook was added in October 2019 at the Saracen Casino Resort. However, there is no online wagering in the state. Lawmakers have considered statewide mobile legislation but this could still be a difficult sell in one of the nation’s more politically and culturally conservative states.
Delaware – Delaware was the first state outside Nevada to accept a legal single-game sports bet, beating New Jersey by a few weeks after the Supreme Court struck down the federal wagering ban in May 2018. Delaware’s lottery-run sports betting market still prohibits online betting, leaving only three retail sportsbooks in the state — and unimpressive revenue numbers.
Illinois – The state launched betting on March 9, 2020, (just ahead of an NCAA Tournament that didn’t wind up happening) and launched online betting in June 2020. One of the nation’s most populated (and sports-crazy) states, Illinois is expected to be a major player in the U.S. sports betting sphere. However, market participation has been slow, in part due to limited online skin counts plus stiff taxes and fees. More importantly, Illinois bettors are required to register at a retail sportsbook before betting with an online option. This requirement had been waived on a month-by-month basis by Gov. J.B. Pritzker during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he unexpectedly failed to renew the order starting in April 2021; assuming he (or the legislature) take no further action, in-person registration will remain until 2022.
Indiana – Indiana went live Sept. 1, 2019 and has done well, pulling in more than $200 million a month in handle in the 2020 football season. It took just a few months from legalization to first bet, and Indiana has continued its fast start with a well-rounded market.
Iowa – Iowa started accepting bets on Aug. 15, 2019 and has methodically grown in the months since. The in-person registration requirement set to sunset in 2021 should help the market even further. Iowa has some of the cheapest licensing fees in the land — $45,000 for the first year to get an initial license and a renewal fee of $10,000 annually. Iowa took in $72 million in bets in September 2020 alone.
Michigan – Michigan launched in-person wagering at the MGM Grand Detroit on March 11, 2020. Online books such as BetMGM could launch very soon.
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