The United States is the home to the best football, basketball, baseball and hockey leagues in the world. Combine those big four sports with some of the most prestigious horse races in the world and a population of over 300 million and it should surprise nobody that sports betting is becoming a big part of the culture in the USA.
Unlike over in Europe, where sports betting is largely regulated by the government, the USA is currently a bit of a wild west in terms of sports betting at the moment. The federal government has made it clear that it is not legal for sportsbooks to operate inside the United States, but there seems to be a legal grey area in terms of whether sportsbooks located outside of the States are able to accept American residents at their betting sites. This has created a marketplace where only a few of the established sportsbooks, two of which I outline below, are actively accepting bets from USA residents.
***I should note that the legal grey area seems to be for operators accepting American players. There is no legal grey area for the consumers, who have every right to play at the sites that deem Americans eligible.
On this page I will tackle the age old question of whether sports betting is legal in the United States, and then provide you with two reputable and popular sportsbooks that accept American residents. At the bottom of the page you’ll then be able to check out the different laws and betting options in individual states and cities within the United States.
Is Sports Betting Legal in the USA?
To answer this question I need to break it down into two parts.
#1. Operating a Sportsbook
It is not legal to operate a sportsbook or bookmaking service in the United States. The exceptions to this rule include Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. Sports betting is not regulated outside of those four states and it is illegal to run a sports betting operation both land based or online.
#2. Placing Bets Online
There is no federal law against online sports betting in the United States. Gambling online is not illegal and placing bets through online sportsbooks that are regulated and licensed at locations outside of the United States has become a normal and acceptable way to place sports bets for the majority of USA residents.
Best Sports Betting Sites for Americans
The following two online sportsbooks are the most popular betting sites for American residents. Both sites are primarily focused on the American market and Bovada actually only accepted US residents for their first several years.
- Built for American bettors
- Wide variety of competitive betting lines
- Easy to navigate betting platform
- Accepts players worldwide
- Competitive betting lines
- Fast & easy deposits and withdrawals (including Bitcoin)
Bovada is by far the most popular online sportsbook in the United States and our most recommended site for Americans looking for their first online sportsbook. Check out the reviews of both Bovada and BetOnline to learn more the ins and outs of both sites.
Sports Betting in Specific Cities and States
I’ve added dedicated pages outlining the sports betting options for residents in different states and large metropolitan areas of the United States. As I mentioned above, Nevada is the only state in the USA that allows land based sports betting, but betting on horse races in still allowed in most states. In the following pages I outline the top horse race betting locations in each State or City and also provide information on the best online sportsbooks for bettors in each specific location.
Sports Betting By State
- South Carolina
Large Cities in the USA