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Sports betting and Casino

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History of Sports Betting in the U.S.

The roots of U.S. sports betting are to be found in the early 19th century when betting on horse races was a popular pastime amongst Americans. Sports betting was widely accepted and viewed entirely as entertainment. While sports betting was widely popular, it was at this point still illegal. However, due to a lack of legal frameworks to govern it, it remained widely spread. The first state to formally legalize gambling was Nevada in 1931, leading to it quickly becoming a hotspot for betting entertainment. As other states did not act, the crime families of New York began to offer gambling across different states, leading to undesired consequences. This prompted the creation of the Wire Act of 1961, which banned the transmission of any wagers over the phone or other communication means. It prevented the centralized management of gambling by the mob across the U.S. and led to the industry being entirely localized. It wasn't until the 70s that sports betting became a critical revenue driver for the government. When Congress lowered the tax required to be paid on bets, several states started to cash in on the renewed growth, among them Delaware, Oregon and Montana. 
An increasing number of states began to enact legislation on sports betting. Eventually, Congress became increasingly worried about the state of decentralized regulation on gambling. It passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, commonly referred to as PASPA. PASPA made sports betting illegal across the U.S. apart from the four states that had previously established clear regulation on betting. Nevada was the only state that supported full betting operations as the other states were limited to lottery, pull-tabs and bingo. This prompted operators to seek alternative solutions to continue their operations. Most moved to offshore states such as Costa Rica or Panama, in which sports betting was fully legalized. It wasn't until 2018 that the Supreme Court overturned PASPA. In the case of Murphy vs National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al., the Supreme Court found that a centralized decision of state legalization of betting was unconstitutional. As such, it immediately overturned the existing PASPA legislation, thereby opening the gates for each state to decide whether and to what extent to allow for sports betting and gambling. 
Looking at the market today after PASPA has been abandoned, it looks drastically different. U.S. bettors can now bet on a vast array of sports within the United States, as well as across the rest of the globe. Before PASPA, the most common type of bet placed was a spread bet. Looking at the market now, there are many more options to play, such as the money line, the over-under or playing in-play bets. The ability to research an event and get information on injuries, teams' performances, and other bettors' opinions have improved drastically and thereby have made betting significantly more accessible. Furthermore, sports betting has moved on from being purely conducted on-premise to customers now being able to bet from their phone or computer. Mobile betting is becoming increasingly more popular owing to its convenience, the vast range of markets and ease of placing bets. 
Currently, twenty-six of the fifty states have legalized sports betting. Some states have enacted substantial restrictions such as no mobile betting or only using mobile betting within a casino. Other states have legalized it but not pushed ahead to launch the industries. Furthermore, in some states, sports betting functions through the Tribal Gaming compacts, thereby restricting operations to tribal licenses. This means that more than 50% of the U.S. states have currently legalized betting since PASPA was overturned. Industry experts now predict that most of the country will have legal sportsbooks within the next five years. The initial signs are promising, and first movers such as New Jersey have captured significant tax revenue from these betting operations and licenses.  


As of the time of this writing, nine states have currently enacted laws supporting full online sports betting. Several others have permitted restricted forms of betting. In the following section, we provide a complete overview on a state-by-state basis. 

New Jersey

New Jersey was one of the first states to act on the repealing of PASPA. This has allowed it to become the most mature sports betting market as of April 2021. It is also heavily biased towards mobile betting, with more than 80% of the betting volume being placed from mobile devices. New Jersey supports both in-person and online betting without needing to be on a casino premise.  


Colorado was the 18th state to accept legal sports bets when the first bet was placed in May 2020. It has legalized full mobile betting helping it to quickly become one of the most competitive markets for operators. This competitive environment has also helped it to become one of the most consumer-friendly betting markets, with operators fighting for market share by offering large welcome bonuses and constantly improving the mobile betting experience. 


Indiana accepted its first mobile bet on October 3rd 2019, and the major operators quickly started to launch their offerings in Indiana. Like the previously mentioned states, Indiana supports full online and in-person betting without the requirement to be on casino premises. 


Pennsylvania saw its first mobile bets in November 2019 after it officially legalized mobile sports betting in May of that same year. In 2020 it became the 3rd largest market in the U.S., taking in about $1.5 billion in bets staked. Pennsylvania allows full online and in-person betting.  


Tennessee has launched efforts to aggressively launch sports betting. Unlike many other states, there is no limit on the sports betting licenses to be issued. This should support a competitive market to the benefit of the bettor. However, these licenses are also among the most expensive in the market, which has caused some experts to voice concerns about whether smaller operators will be able to compete and establish a foothold in this state. Tennessee supports full online and in-person betting. 

West Virginia

After some initial delays, full mobile sports betting has been fully functioning since August 2019. West Virginia requires betting operators to have partnerships with existing Casinos. As of now, all casinos in this state have such partnerships in place. The state permits full in-person and online betting. 


Illinois launched sports betting operations in March 2020. It is a unique state when compared to all others in that it has provided brick-and-mortar operators such as casinos and racetracks an eighteen-month head start of the mobile betting competitors. The state currently supports full online and in-person betting. 


Iowa accepted its first bet in August 2019. Initially, bettors had to register in person at a physical casino or sportsbook. This rule has been repealed, and as of January 2021, bettors can now sign up and bet online from anywhere within the Hawkeye State. 


Michigan launched its online betting shortly before Super Bowl LV. Its favorable tax structure is expected to make it one of the most competitive betting markets in the U.S. It is currently expected that there will be between 5 and 10 sportsbook operators by the end of 2021. 


Virginia has legalized full online and offline betting. Operators will be approved by the lottery. Bettors will not be able to place wagers on any college teams. 


Arkansas launched legal sports betting in July 2019. However, as of April 2021, betting is only legal in physical locations. Past attempts at legalizing mobile betting have failed, but it is to be seen whether Arkansas has a chance at mobile betting in the coming years.


Delaware was the first state to legalize betting and was a vocal supporter of the repealing of PASPA. However, Delaware so far has not legalized mobile betting, and all over-the-counter betting activity is being managed by the state lottery. 


A 2020 vote in Maryland saw strong support for sports betting. In-person betting is already legal, and mobile betting is likely to follow, potentially later on in 2021. 


Mississippi legalized betting in 2018. Mobile betting is currently legal, however, only while inside a physical casino. 


Montana accepted its first bets in March 2020. Bettors are able to place bets within licensed bars and restaurants either via kiosks or via their phones.


Nevada has long been synonymous with betting and casinos. While mobile betting is legal in Nevada, it requires bettors to come into a casino to register before being able to place bets online. 

New Hampshire 

New Hampshire has legalized full online and in-person betting. However, DraftKings will be the exclusive operator in the state besides the New Hampshire lottery. As such, the market is characterized by very low competition. It remains to be seen whether this monopolistic situation will continue for years to come.

New Mexico

New Mexico does not yet officially have a bill on sports betting. So far, the Native American Tribes have argued that their physical sportsbooks are legal under the tribal gaming compacts. 

New York

New York is currently undergoing the process of passing new legislation on mobile sports betting. While it is clear that there will not be in-stadium sportsbooks, it is not clear when mobile betting will launch, what the tax rate will be or how many operators will be able to operate in New York.


Oregon was one of the original states that supported sports betting prior to the repeal of PASPA. Mobile betting is currently run exclusively by the Oregon Lottery. The state supports both mobile and online betting. 

Rhode Island

Rhode Island has been accepting bets since 2018. It remains the only state in which bettors can bet at the age of 18. Rhode Island has decided to only offer bets via the lottery.
The other states have not yet legalized either physical or online betting. But progress is being made consistently, and many more are expected to legalize mobile betting by the middle of this decade.


In states where mobile betting is legal, there are a number of operators which bettors can choose for their wagers. These vary slightly on a state-by-state basis. Note that bettors also have to fulfil other requirements to ensure they are eligible within their state to bet. These are the most well-known operators:


DraftKings is one of America's leading fantasy sports sites and has become a leader in the sports betting realm. Immediately after the repeal of PASPA, DraftKings started to operate as a Sportsbook and has since expanded into several states. Currently, DraftKings offers betting in: NJ/PA/CO/WV/IN/IL/TN/IA/NH


FanDuel is the world's largest daily fantasy sports site and launched sports betting shortly after the end of PASPA in 2018. It is highly regarded for its mobile User Experience and currently operates in: NJ/PA/CO/WV/IN/TN/IL/VA


BetMGM was one of the first operators to launch a New Jersey sports betting site after the repeal of PASPA. It is renowned for having one of the widest selections of odds, markets and promotions. BetMGM is available in NJ/PA/CI/WV/TN/IN/MI/VI/IO/NV.


PointsBet is one of the newer entrants in the U.S. Sports betting market. PointsBet is currently the only operator to offer points betting, a more advanced version of spread betting. The company was previously very successful in the Australian market and now seeks to replicate that in the U.S. Pointsbet currently operates in MI/NJ/IO/CO/IN

William Hill

William Hill is the largest sports betting operator in the United Kingdom with about a 25% market share. It has now come to the U.S. and was the first-ever operator to directly partner with a sports team, the New Jersey Devils. William Hill currently operates in NJ/CO/VI/MI/IN/WV/IL/TN/IN 


Twin Spires is a sportsbook focusing specifically on horse racing. It prides itself on always matching the odds at the racetrack online. 

Barstool Sportsbook

Barstool Sports is a widely known media company focusing on sports and lifestyle. After their acquisition by Penn National, they have launched the Barstool Sportsbook in Pennsylvania and now Michigan. While still a relatively new brand, Barstool has attracted many bettors with their celebrity partnerships and their media marketing. 


Sugarhouse was extremely fast to act after the legalization of sports betting. Their sportsbook was live and running in less than 90 days after the end of PASPA. Sugarhouse offers an extremely broad selection of betting options and continuously offers some of the largest promotional offers. Sugarhouse is currently available in New Jersey. 


Unibet is a brand operated by the Kindred Group, one of the largest gambling companies in the world, operating in more than 100 countries. Unibet is a trusted operator and currently is available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana. 

888 Sportsbook 

888Sport is one of the world's largest sportsbooks and is consistently well regarded for both its desktop and mobile experience. 888 currently operates exclusively in New Jersey. 

Bet Rivers Sportsbook 

BetRivers Sportsbook is the digital betting offering by the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. BetRivers is well regarded for its attractive sign-up bonuses. It is a fast-growing brand and currently operates in NJ/IN/CO. 


Bet 365 is another globally well-regarded brand, having been in the betting market for more than 20 years since its launch in Great Britain and is considered to be highly innovative. Its speciality is a focus on live in-play betting, including the live streaming of important events. Bet365 is currently available in New Jersey. 

Fox Bet

Fox is the first large media player to dip its toe into the sports betting industry by partnering with The Stars Group, a well-renown player. This partnership led to the launch of Fox Bet in New Jersey. Fox is leveraging its network of talent to promote its offerings and raise awareness for betting across its media outlets. It currently operates exclusively in New Jersey. 

The Score Bet

TheScore Bet is the sportsbook offering by The Score, a well renowned Canadian sports media brand. It is currently available in New Jersey.


BetAmerica started out as a brand focused on horse racing but in 2019 pivoted to also offer a wider sportsbook and casino. BetAmerica currently operates exclusively in New Jersey. 

Hard Rock Sportsbook 

Hard Rock is one of the most well-known hospitality brands in the restaurant and gambling world. The company currently operates its online sportsbook exclusively in New Jersey. 

Caesars Sportsbook 

Caesars is a household brand and synonymous with Las Vegas. Next to operating its famous physical casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, Caesars online sportsbook has been launched in New Jersey. 

Resorts Sportsbook 

The Resorts Casino Hotel was the first-ever casino to open its door in Atlantic City. It is a household brand that is very well regarded. The Resorts Sportsbook is available to all bettors based in New Jersey. 

Borgata Sportsbook 

Borgata is another famous Atlantic City brand. The company merged with MGM in 2018 but operates its own sportsbook exclusively in New Jersey. 

Bet Basics

Before placing any wager, it's important to be aware of the betting basics. Below we define the most important aspects to know before placing any bet. 

What is the Moneyline?

The Moneyline bet means that the bettor chooses the winner of any matchup. The bet is considered to be won when the bettor has chosen the right contender.

What is the Point Spread?

The point spread is the expected difference that one contender is expected to win the match up by. It is the oldest type of bet. 

What an Over/Under bet?

The Over/Under represents the total amount of points that the operator expects to be scored in any event. The bettor can bet either that the actual amount of points will be higher or lower than the prediction by the sportsbook. 

What is a Parlay?

A Parlay also referred to as an accumulator. This is when one combines multiple individual bets into one aggregated Parlay. Each of the individual bets is then referred to as a leg. In order to win a parlay bet, each leg has to be won. The odds for parlays are significantly higher than for individual bets leading to large potential payouts. 


Dos and Don'ts of How to Bet Online

With any type of gamble, bettors should be sensible and aware of their own behavior and the event they bet on. Bettors should always research the matchup they intend to bet on, as well as who is offering the best price. The odds offered by the individual operators may be quite significantly different, and hence using a price comparison tool should be the standard for any bettor. BestOdds is working hard to produce the best in class price comparison tool. Drop your email above to be notified when we launch. It is also incredibly important to be aware of one's limits. Betting is intended to be fun, and players need to be aware of what they intend to gamble with and not to go over their limits. Furthermore, betting with a reputable company that is regulated is strongly recommended! There are many stories of bettors struggling to be paid out their winnings from unregulated, offshore gaming operators.

What makes a good online sports betting site?

When choosing a site to bet with, there are a few major considerations: Firstly, the sportsbook should offer a wide selection of bets defined as many sports and many betting products, including live betting. It is also important to check whether the sportsbook is offering good value by using an odds comparison tool such as BestOdds. Furthermore, the sign-up offers can be very different per sportsbook, and as such, it is important to see who has the best value for new bettors. Some operators have features that encourage responsible gambling, such as personal deposit limits with a cool-down period. We strongly advise using such features as they help to remain in control of one's betting behaviours. Moreover, any good operator should be regulated by the state, and as such, it is important to check whether the sportsbook is indeed regulated. All operators featured on BestOdds are fully regulated to operate in the U.S. Different Operators may also have different policies on withdrawals and payment options. It is important to be aware of these and to choose an operator that aligns with your personal needs. 



The Legality of online casinos in the U.S. has been defined by a state-based approach, with each state being able to enact laws on online casinos. As of April 2021, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan have passed legislation to allow online casinos. In all other states, players can play at a sweepstakes casino. At these casinos, you can play for Sweep Coins which can be exchanged for cash prices. 


There are several well known online casino operators. Many of them also offer sportsbooks. We have created a list of the most prominent operators: 

DraftKings Casino 

The DraftKings Casino is being operated by the well-known Fantasy and Sportsbetting brand DraftKings. It offers some of the most player-friendly welcome bonuses and is currently available in Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 

BetMGM Casino

MGM is most well known for their physical casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. However, they are also one of the largest players in the online casino market. They currently operate in Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and offer a wide variety of gambling options. 


FanDuel is another well known Fantasy Sports and Betting operator that has chosen to enter the casino market. Thus far, it has established its presence in Pennsylvania and Michigan, but we expect more states soon. 

Golden Nugget Casino 

The Golden Nugget Casinos are a chain of well-known casinos with physical locations across the U.S. This highly regarded operator has some of the highest welcome bonuses and currently operator exclusively in New Jersey and Michigan. 

Chumba Casino

The Chumba Casino is one of the most widely known Sweepstake casino brands in the U.S. It operates in all states apart from D.C.

Luckyland Slots 

Luckyland Slots is an online slot brand that also operates as a Sweepstake casino. It, too is available in all states outside of D.C. 

Funzpoints Casino

Funzpoints is an online social casino that provides free and real money slot games. It is widely known for its high slot payouts and currently operates in all states outside of D.C.

Casino Basics

Why Play at Online Casinos?

Online Casinos offer all the benefits of physical casinos but from the comfort of your home. The current market offers players a wide selection of games, both free and paid for. Video slots, table games, poker and many more varieties are common to be found. Online casinos also support any type of budget. Slots can be spun starting a 1 cent, while on the other hand of the spectrum, there are still VIP roulette tables offering $1,000 plus per game. Online casinos also offer attractive sign-up bonuses. Make sure to educate yourself and compare bonuses before signing up to an operator. 

How do I know whether an online casino is legal in the U.S.?

When choosing an online casino, the first thing to look at is the domain extension. All quality casino sites will have a reputable domain such as a .com. Offshore casinos tend to have a domain from that region, such as .ag or .lv. These sites are not regulated under U.S. law, and as such, we strongly recommend against playing with them. The next step to verify whether a casino is legal is by checking whether it has the state gambling logo on its page. Online casinos that are fully licensed will be able to show the state gambling logo.

What online casino games are most popular?

The most popular type of online casino games over the past years have been slot machines. Blackjack is not far behind; however, players have consistently chosen slot machines over other types of games. However, there are more than just those two types of games. Most online casinos will feature any number of these games: Roulette, Craps, Live Dealer, Poker, Baccarat, Slingo, Slots and Blackjack.

How do Sweepstake casinos work?

Outside of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia, operators are able to offer real money casino games under the so-called Sweepstake gambling laws. The main distinction between sweepstake and regular casinos is that Sweepstake Casinos do not allow to deposit money directly into a betting account. Players need to purchase an arbitrary currency such as Sweeps Coins to gamble with on the site. Sweeps Coins can be stakes to win more of them and thereafter can be exchanged back for money. Most Sweepstake casinos also offer free games to play with. 

Dos and Donts 

When wagering money in an online casino, it is always important to be aware of oneself while playing. BestOdds strongly recommends setting yourself a budget and be aware of your limits. It is never wise to attempt to bet back any losses and as such, being aware when to walk away is important. Casinos are meant to be fun and social, and as such, it is important to see it as a way of entertainment! Lastly, it is always important to remain informed. Check out different operators on comparison sites such as BestOdds to find which operator is best for you! 

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