Top USA Betting Sites in 2018
Betting on sports has been popular throughout the history of the world. Everyone is not an athlete, so participation in sporting activities is limited to those with particular skills or abilities. Those who do not play may choose to watch, but they also tend to want to be invested in the games. The best way to take part in the action without doing so physically is to wager on its outcome. And it has been happening since history has been recorded.
Whether legal or illegal, in the open or on the black market, people have been betting on everything from sports to horse racing since America took shape.
This page looks at the top betting sites currently accepting USA bettors, which states currently have legal betting, states we expect to open in 2019 and those that are considering online sportsbetting. We also provide information on how to deposit to a betting site, bonuses available and an FAQ section at the bottom.
The History of Betting in the United States
The American government has tried to outlaw sports betting many times as legislators tried to regulate its citizens ability to wager on anything. And the formation of national sports leagues prompted lawmakers to try to regulate betting to preserve the “integrity” of the games, but sports betting remained prevalent, though mostly in unregulated systems via bookies. Las Vegas opened its first regulated sportsbook in 1949, and many more followed, while the US government tried to collect a 10% federal excise tax on all sports bets, which stifled growth. However, in 1964, Congress reduced that tax to 2%, and legal sports betting thrived in Nevada. And 20 years later, the tax was reduced further to just 0.5% to allow Nevada’s industry to grow.
Congress’ 1961 Wire Act intended to crack down on racketeering and other criminal activities tied to bookmaking by making it illegal to bet on sports by telephones and telegrams, as well as by mail. But it wasn’t until 1992 that sports betting took its biggest hit via the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Protection Act, better known as PASPA. Congress passed the law under pressure by professional sports leagues, banning sports betting in all states except Nevada due to its established industry and Oregon, Delaware, and Montana, each of which offered sports lotteries prior to PASPA.
Downfall of PASPA
New Jersey issued the largest legal challenge to PASPA, which started when the state passed its Sports Wagering Act in 2012 to allow sports betting at New Jersey casinos and racing facilities. A number of prominent sports leagues challenged the law, headed up by the national Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which filed a lawsuit against NJ Governor Chris Christie with the support of the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), National Football League (NFL), and Major League Baseball (MLB). The state fought back in the US District Court, arguing that PASPA violated the 10th Amendment regarding states’ rights.
The US District Court ruled in favor of the sports leagues, as did the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The fight ultimately went to the United States Supreme Court, which first rejected but ultimately, in June 2017, agreed to hear the case. Oral arguments were presented in December of that year, and the court revealed its decision on Monday, May 14, 2018.
The US Supreme Court voted 7-2 to overturn PASPA via Murphy v. NCAA. (Governor Phil Murphy replaced Christie by the time the case was decided.) PASPA was essentially found to be unconstitutional, specifically that it violated the anti-commandeering doctrine of the US Constitution because it
“unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do.”
The author of the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito, called PASPA an “affront to state sovereignty.” He also noted,
“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.”
Basically, every state in America was given the right to legalize and regulate sports betting.
New Jersey Builds on Supreme Court Victory
The New Jersey legislature wasted little time constructing an updated sports betting bill. The Assembly kicked it off with A.4111, introduced on June 4, 2018, to allow
“wagering at casinos and racetracks on certain professional and collegiate sports or athletic events.”
The bill took on amended language, passed the Assembly on June 7 by a unanimous vote of 71-0, and it then passed the Senate on the same day – unanimously as well – by a vote of 37-0. Governor Murphy then signed the bill on June 11.
Several days later, on June 14, the William Hill sportsbook opened at Monmouth Park to accept its first single-game sports bet from Governor Murphy. The Borgata in Atlantic City followed within the hour, and Ocean Resort Casino opened its sportsbook on June 28.
That first month’s revenue, albeit only for several weeks (and days for Ocean Resort Casino) showed total wagers of $16.4 million, the vast majority of that ($10.1 million) for MLB games and the rest ($2.2 million) for soccer. However, a total of more than $911K was placed on futures bets for MLB, NFL, and soccer games. And the total gross profits for the facilities from sports betting were $3.46 million.
In July, sportsbooks opened at Meadowlands and Bally’s. By the end of July, the total wagers were $40.7 million, with the gross profits portion of that registering at $3.8 million.
By the end of August, the numbers also included mobile and online sports betting for New Jersey, as well as three new venues (Golden Nugget, Harrah’s, and Resorts Casino), which brought the total wagers up to $95.6 million. The gross profit for the facilities came to nearly $9.2 million for the month.
Delaware Technically First
It is important to note that Delaware also made a play for sports betting, and it did so before New Jersey. Technically, Delaware wanted to offer a new version of its sports betting lottery, as it was one of the few PASPA exemptions but wanted to expand beyond parlays and NFL games to allow single-game bets and wagering on sports besides professional football. But its attempts were defeated by District Court and US Court of Appeals rulings that the Delaware law violated PASPA.
After the May US Supreme Court decision, lawmakers gathered with Governor John Carney to organize a sports betting framework. Instead of passing new legislation, they ultimately decided to simply expand on the betting that had been allowed under the supervision of the Delaware Lottery since 2009. That allowed Delaware to move quickly to set up sports betting at its three racetracks – Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway & Casino, and Delaware Park.
Governor Carney made the first bet at Dover Downs on June 5, one week before New Jersey.
Delaware collected $1 million in sports betting revenue in June out of the total of nearly $7 million in wagers registered. July showed a total of $8.2 million in wagers, though August was slightly lower with $7.7 million. However, for a small state with only three locations offering sports betting, the total of $23 million in wagers for the first three months was significant.
States with Online Betting Sites
As of the mid-term elections in November 2018, there were several states accepting sports bets.
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
States That Will Open in 2019
And the list of states preparing to finalize regulations and take their first bets are:
States That Are Proposing Legalization
Then, there are numerous states moving in that direction. Some states, like New York and Oregon, have old laws on the books that may be reviewed with updates in order to be effective. Others have legislation in the works and ready for committee votes in order to move forward and legalize the industry.
- New York
- South Carolina
- Washington, D.C.
State Betting Details by State
- Launched 1949
- Overseen by Nevada Gaming Control Board, Nevada Gaming Commission
- Age limit: 21
Nearly every casino in Nevada offers some type of sports betting, at least in the larger establishments in cities like Las Vegas and Reno.
Many real money sports betting apps are now available for Nevada residents and visitors, though traditional online sports betting is not yet approved or available. Using geolocation technology, bettors that are determined to be located within the state’s borders are able to use online apps to bet on sports from Android and iOS devices. The partnerships under which these apps are currently available, as of late 2018, are as follows:
- Station Casinos via STN Sports (Station casinos, Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Fiesta and Wildfire casinos)
- MGM Resorts via PlayMGM (MGM Grand, Bellagio, Aria, Mirage, Mandalay Bay, New York New York, Park MGM, Luxor, Excalibur, Circus Circus)
- Cantor Gaming via CG Technology (Hard Rock, Cosmopolitan, Palms, Venetian, Tropicana, Palazzo, M Resort, Silverton)
- William Hill
- South Point via NV Sports Books
- Boyd Gaming via B-Connected Sports (Orleans, Suncoast, Fremont, Gold Coast, Sam’s Town, California, Cannery casinos, Aliante, Eldorado)
- Westgate via SuperBook
- Golden Nugget
- Caesars and Treasure Island via Miomni (Harrah’s casinos, Caesars, Flamingo, Rio, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Cromwell, Linq)
- Launched June 5, 2018
- Overseen by Delaware Lottery
- Age limit: 21
The three racinos (horse racing tracks and casinos combined) in Delaware offer legal sports betting at their establishments only. Those three locations are Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway & Casino, and Delaware Park, and they all share one sports betting license.
- Launched June 14, 2018
- Overseen by New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
- Age limit: 21
Most casinos in Atlantic City, as well as horse racing tracks throughout the state, offer sports betting at their properties, and others are preparing to do so. Sports wagering is legal via land-based sportsbooks, online, and on mobile apps.
As for the apps and online wagering sites, there are numerous partnerships with casinos and operators, with more likely to be revealed in the coming months. As of the end of October 2018, the primary relationships are:
- William Hill offering for Tropicana, Ocean Resort Casino, Monmouth Park
- 888/Scientific Games for Caesars, Bally’s, Harrah’s
- SB Tech offering for Golden Nugget, Resorts, SugarHouse
- MGM/GVC/Stadium Tech for Borgata
- FanDuel/Paddy Power Betfair for Meadowlands
- BetStars and DraftKings via Resorts
Specifically, the online sportsbooks are offered by FanDuel, DraftKings, 888Sport, SugarHouse, Caesars, BetStars, William Hill, and PlayMGM.
- Launched August 1, 2018
- Overseen by Mississippi Gaming Commission
- Age limit: 21
The law to legalize sports betting in Mississippi passed in 2017 and was set to be effective if New Jersey won its US Supreme Court case regarding PASPA. Technically, the law called for the legalization of daily fantasy sports (DFS) but removed any prohibitions against sports betting in the current state statutes, allowing for casinos to do as they wished.
Approximately one month after that case was decided and PASPA overturned in May 2018, the Mississippi Gaming Commission began developing the regulatory framework by which casinos and operators would offer betting on sports.
There are no mobile or online wagering options at this time, so land-based sportsbooks are the only options for bettors in Mississippi. The first casinos to open sportsbooks were Beau Rivage and Gold Strike, both of which accepted their initial bets on August 1, but other casinos that followed included Sam’s Town, IP Casino, and Horseshoe.
- Launched August 30, 2018
- Overseen by West Virginia Lottery Commission
- Age limit: 21
West Virginia passed its bill legalizing sports betting in the first months of 2018, and the legislature’s approval pushed the bill into law in March 2018. It was contingent upon a favorable ruling by the US Supreme Court, which happened in May to allow the implementation of the bill to move forward.
The first casino to launch sports betting was Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, which happened on August 30. Other establishments – mostly racinos – followed suit in the subsequent weeks, as sports betting is legal at Mardi Gras, Mountaineer Casino, Wheeling Island, and Casino Club at Greenbrier. Some have yet to officially open their land-based sportsbooks.
There will be mobile sports wagering available, and those plans are in the works with the hopes of launching Android and iOS apps by the end of 2018. The relationships discussed thus far include:
- William Hill offering for Hollywood Casino
- FanDuel for Casino Club at Greenbrier
- Miomni for Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras
- Launched October 16, 2018
- Authorized by New Mexico tribal gaming compacts
- Age limit: 21
New Mexico took on sports betting in a different way. Casinos in the state operate on tribal lands per the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Numerous tribes in New Mexico signed gambling compacts with the state in the 1990s to build casinos that offered everything from slot machines to table games. And when the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, one of those tribes took the opportunity to open a sportsbook in its casino.
The Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel, located on the Pueblo of Santa Ana near Albuquerque, took its first sports bet on October 16, 2018. Though New Mexico has passed no law legalizing sports betting, the tribe launched operations via IGRA, and that move has been confirmed as legal by the US Department of the Interior’s Office of Indian Affairs. Since the New Mexico tribal gambling compacts allow any forms of Class III gaming, which includes sports betting per federal regulations, the tribe was fully within its rights to open a sportsbook on its property.
The Santa Ana Star is partnered with USBookmaking for land-based sports wagering operations.
Supporters of Legal US Sports Betting
1. The primary supporters of legalized sports betting in America are sports fans. People around the country have been betting on sports – whether in fantasy leagues, office pools, or in Nevada sportsbooks – for decades, and millions of people are happy that they can now do so in more states and with the protection of state and federal laws.
2. Many state governments are also enthusiastic about legalized sports betting. Gambling has always been a revenue generator for many states, whether from pari-mutuel wagering, lotteries, or some form of casinos and card room activities. Due to the immense popularity of sports and related wagering, many state legislators are clamoring to legalize this type of betting in order to establish a new revenue stream.
3. Casinos, racinos, and race tracks are excited to get in on sports betting action as well. Any gambling establishment will attract customers, but the offering of a sportsbook on that property is a way to attract new customers and persuade them to remain in the casinos for longer periods of time. Not only is the sportsbook a profitable endeavor, it can lead to more revenue in other areas due to patrons staying to watch games, settle bets, and gather with other sports-loving customers.
4. Operators of sports betting technology, sports betting apps, and online sports betting options also have the opportunity to enter the US market and expand. With the growing need for more operators to handle the needs of sportsbooks, competition is already growing and generating business for numerous new and expanding companies.
5. Television and other media companies have the chance to benefit greatly from the growth of a sports betting industry in the US. Not only will it create new lines of advertising revenue and business partnerships for television and radio stations and networks, more sports fans can translate into other forms of revenue. Viewers may spend more time watching and listening to games due to pending wagers, and they may take new interest in sports due to the ability to bet on them.
Opposition to US Online Betting Sites
1. The staunchest opposition to US accepted sports betting sites has come from groups and organizations that help problem gamblers and try to prevent a rise in gambling addictions. Groups like the National Council on Problem Gambling express concern at any broadening of legalized gambling, but sports betting has been especially concerning to these organizations because of the prevalence of sports fans that may take casual interest in games to a new level with wagering. While these groups are generally opposed to gambling expansion in general, they also try to influence states and regulatory agencies to adopt strict responsible gambling safeguards that may protect customers.
2. There are also groups like Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which oppose all online gambling that may present competition to land-based casino gambling. Adelson’s efforts seem to be propelled by his desire to protect his casino profits, though the arguments against online gambling – including sports betting – are often cloaked in fears of underage gambling and money laundering due to a greater access to internet wagering.
3. Congress has shown itself to be very wary of the framework established by the May 2018 US Supreme Court decision regarding PASPA. As soon as the ruling was announced, members of Congress like Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer immediately called for hearings to discuss potential federal oversight of the new industry in some form. The first hearing did happen in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations in September, and despite a great deal of testimony upholding the precedent that gambling issues should be handled by individual states, some lawmakers want to explore some type of federal regulation further.
4. Sports leagues were pegged as the primary opponent to legalized US sports betting, as some of the major professional sports organizations were the plaintiffs in the US Supreme Court case. League spokespeople warned of integrity issues with regard to the games and the erosion of public confidence in the games. Leagues also complained about the potential costs of educating players and monitoring wagering trends.
This prompted the idea of an integrity fee. Sports leagues responded to the US Supreme Court decision with calls for states offering online sports betting to pay an integrity fee, or tax of sorts, to the sports leagues upon which wagers would be placed. However, without Congress to bargain for such a fee and considering states were already legalizing and implementing their own sports betting industries and ignoring talks of integrity fees, professional organizations realized they had little leverage.
The first statements from leagues after the US Supreme Court decision were full of fearful language. The National Football League and National Basketball Association called for immediate assistance from Congress for a regulatory framework. Major League Baseball lamented the “profound effects” of the decision on the game. The National Hockey League warned of an “entirely different landscape.”
However, some leagues were more forthright about the potential effects of the new betting realm. As the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said,
“I think everyone who owns a top-four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double.”
It didn’t take the leagues long to realize that they were not going to receive integrity fees and would not be able to negotiate with Congress for additional benefits, which meant they had to begin to embrace the positive possibilities.
And they did.
The first major deal was announced in July. The NBA announced MGM Resorts as its official gaming partner. The National Basketball Association will offer real-time data to MGM properties and affiliates pertaining to NBA and WNBA games, and the league will receive an alternative to its proposed integrity fee in the form of the multi-million-dollar deal.
In October, MGM Resorts entered into a similar partnership with the National Hockey League. And the NHL deal was even more far-reaching, as MGM will be the official resort destination of the league.
At the same time, the NFL’s New York Jets signed a deal with 888 Holdings, a sponsorship deal that followed others, such as the Dallas Cowboys with WinStar World Casino and the Baltimore Ravens with Harrah’s Baltimore.
Ultimately, sports leagues will benefit from legalized online US sports betting. Per a 2018 study by the American Gaming Association, the four largest professional sports leagues will see combined revenues of more than $4.2 billion per year as a result of the new market, monies to be earned through television advertising, sponsorships, data and product sales, media rights, and ticket sales. In fact, the revenue impact is predicted to be:
- NFL = $2.3 billion
- MLB = $1.1 billion
- NBA = $585 million
- NHL = $216 million
What Deposit Options Exist for American Bettors?
Next to finding a reputable sportsbook, the most challenging task to betting online is finding a deposit method. The following are the methods we’ve found to work the best.
Visa – Visa is accepted everywhere. It’s a convenient, simple to use and fast. Just punch in your numbers, how much you want to deposit and hit submit. Your money should be available within minutes. The biggest downside to Visa is that you’re leaving footprints for your bank to follow. You may also face the occasional decline.
MasterCard – Same as Visa, except not accepted at all sportsbooks.
Money Order – A money order is a form of payment paid in advance to your bank or post office. Sportsbooks prefer these because it’s not possible to issue a chargeback.
Bitcoin – This is the virtual form of paper checks. To make a deposit all you need is your checkbook. Just enter your account, routing and check number, how much you want to deposit, and hit submit.
Money Transfers – Go to your nearest MoneyGram or Western Union office (or to their website), give them the money and tell them where to send it, and they’ll ship it for you for a nominal fee. This is an ideal option because no footprints are left between you and bank.
Deposit Bonuses: The What, Why & How
The next thing I want to discuss are deposit bonuses. If you’re new to a sportsbook, chances are that you’ll be offered one. But often they’re too good to be true, so you need to arm yourself with knowledge so that you’re not taken advantage of. So here is the what, why and how of deposit bonuses.
What: Deposit bonuses are incentives. The objective is to get a new player to sign up and make a real money deposit with the promise that their deposit will be matched (a percentage). For example, a 100% deposit bonus up to $600 would mean that for every dollar you deposit, the book will match it (100%) to a max of $600.
Why: Nearly every book, casino and poker room does it. So often books need to offer a bonus just to keep up. They do it to distinguish themselves too. A deposit bonus also encourages new customers to take action now, thinking that they will receive double their money (or more/less) free.
How: This is the part where things get tricky. When the American betting website gives you a deposit bonus, before you get to keep the money you need to make some real money bets. How much depends on the books’ requirements.
For example, Bovada’s requirements are that you wager 3x the deposit amount plus bonus on their 50% offer. So if you deposit $100, you’ll get $50 in free money. However, before you can make a withdrawal you’ll need to wager $450 first (($100+$50) 3).
It’s important that you read the terms and conditions before signing up and accepting the bonus. Aside from accidently signing your life away, you want to make sure the bonus offer is reasonable (they don’t make you wager $50,000 for a $500 bonus) and so you don’t accidently do anything that can void your offer, such as cashing out.
Pitfalls American Sports Bettors Need to Avoid
Here are some common pitfalls we recommend new (American) sports bettors avoid.
Signing up to large books. Often the largest, most touted books are the most shady. They offer large commissions to websites to push potential bettors their way. History tells us that this hardly ever ends well for the customer.
Relying (heavily) on review sites. Many of the larger review sites (like Sportsbook Review (SBR)) are biased. The push the books that offer the largest commissions. Furthermore, sites like this have a documented history of pushing books they know to be scams.
Using credit cards (if other options exist). As mentioned above, credit cards leave footprints that your bank (or other officials) can follow. This can lead to account terminations or possible (rare, but legal) consequences. It’s in your best interest to avoid credit cards if possible, and to instead use gift cards, prepaid cards, money orders or transfers.
Following sports picks. The majority of people or companies offering sports picks are scams. They highlight their wins, downplay their losses and are essentially breakeven bettors themselves. Why pay someone to breakeven at best, and at worst, to lose your money? You can lose on your own.
There are exceptions to every rule, of course. Just do your due diligence, talk to your peers and use some common sense. You should be fine then.
FAQs About Gambling at Online Casinos in the USA
Here are some commonly asked questions and answers regarding betting on sports online.
Is it illegal to bet on sports in America?
Technically, yes. However, the laws apply more to bookies than bettors. And to the best of our knowledge there has only been one person charged with any crimes – approximately a $500 fine for making more than $100,000 in bets.
Are there any online sportsbooks licensed and regulated in the USA?
No. It’s questionable whether or not we’ll see sportsbetting regulated in the future.
Sportsbook _____ stole my money. What can I do?
Not a lot, sorry. You might try talking to some of the bigger forums. Often they can act as a mediator (especially if they advertise for the room). This can get you some or all of your money back.
Push come to shove, after bugging the room for your money, you might make an offer to settle for a fraction of it. It’s better than being stiffed for the total amount.
Will I face legal trouble if I place bets online?
Unlikely, based on our research. But we’re not lawyers or officials. So you should still do your own due diligence, follow the laws in your area, and if you have any questions, contact your local law enforcement or lawyer for more clarification.