Avoiding a Bad Beat: The Beginners’ Guide to Gambling in America

While sports betting laws in the US completely overturned over the past month, it’s sometimes not even clear to the high rollers what’s legal and what’s not in certain states. Some of the most influential names in sports have shown their support in legalising sports betting, and the Supreme Court has now ruled it legal, but it’s still only currently allowed in all its forms in four states – and there’s also a ton of other state-centric laws around gambling which could mean your poker game breaks the law if you step over a state line.

That’s why PlayUSA have put together an interactive guide designed to let you work out exactly what’s legal in each state and in which states all types of sports betting are legal, illegal and possibly unclear, helping even the least experienced players know their chances throughout the country.

The Main Four Sporting Contenders

So while other states might still classify sports betting as illegal, or restrict it in some way, the good news is that there are four states that do allow you to be able to get in on a game or two. These states for include:

  1. Delaware – While Delaware doesn’t offer conventional casino gambling everywhere in the state, it does, however, maintain several constitutionally exempt casinos, as well as sports betting and horse racing.
  2. Montana – While the Northwestern state only classifies 3 forms of gambling illegal, including Daily Fantasty Sports (DFS) and online lottery, it is one of the few that sees sports betting and horse racing as legal forms of gambling.
  3. Oregon – Alongside Delaware and Montana, Oregon was one of the three states where sports lotteries were exempt from the 1992 Act preventing sports betting.
  4. Nevada – The Las Vegas state certainly has statewide gambling establishments (one of only two states). As well as the three states whose sports lotteries were exempt from the PASPA, Nevada’s licensed sports pools went unbanned.

Freedom in the US

So where are the best places to head if you fancy a flutter? Surprisingly, the answer isn’t Nevada, though it does rate highly. These are the top states for legalised gambling:

  1. Pennsylvania – The Keystone State is also the most gambling-friendly state. With 12 commercial casinos created since their legalization in 2003, and 78% of gambling forms legal (with a further 11% legal at certain, qualifying locations), players are sure to find somewhere to find something to play.
  2. Delaware – Unlike Pennsylvania, Delaware doesn’t offer casino gambling everywhere in the state. It does, however, maintain several constitutionally exempt casinos, as well as sports betting, a State Lottery, and bingo. It doesn’t, however, offer online lottery gambling – you’ll have to go buy a ticket in-store instead. 78% of gambling types are legal here.
  3. Nevada – The Las Vegas state certainly has statewide gambling establishments (one of only two states). But unlike the majority of other states, there is no State Lottery – the casino industry has lobbied against it as it would undermine their own market share. 67% legal, 11% limited

New York, New Jersey, and Maine all have an equal number of gambling options available, though they what they offer are different. For online gambling, for example, you’ll have to head to New Jersey, but if you’re after a subscription to an internet lottery game, then you’ll have to try one of the other two states.

None of them allow Video Game Terminals (VGT) while all three offer casinos and horse racing. New York is the only one of the three that has legislation pending on sports betting (but if you’re not prepared to wait for it to go through, you might want to try Nevada or Delaware).

Sun, Sea and Statewide Bans

While sports betting is rather a controversial topic, it is interesting that horse racing is not as outlawed. With majority of US states, such as New York, Wyoming and Kentucky, classify horse racing as legal there are however only five states which remain opposed, namely Utah, Hawaii, Alaska, Georgia and North Carolina.

Overall Hawaii has a blanket ban on all forms of gambling. Social gambling among friends is allowed, and some bills have been introduced attempting to legalise both internet gambling and daily fantasy sports, but historically legislation attempting to legalize gambling in the state has been rejected.

As well as Hawaii, Utah also claims to have strict restrictions on gambling, with the majority of gambling practices listed as illegal, including sports betting and horse racing, and Daily Fantasy Sport’s standing remaining unclear.

The State of Play

For the rest of the states, and to see which gambling has the least acceptance in America, explore the tool on the PlayUSA website here.

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