News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 25, 2019: Sports betting is now a major talking point in the US and has been so for the last few years. In fact, in January this year we discussed the states in the US where you can currently place a bet on a sporting event.
However, as the year has progressed, there has been a lot more talk about mobile wagering or what you and I would call “online betting.” Is it legal? Is it the same as betting in a casino? Can you place a bet online if you’re in another state?
Yes, there has been quite a lot of confusion surrounding the entire online industry. While land-based sportsbooks are easily governed and quite simple to understand, the online betting markets are a little more complex. So, let’s dive in a take a look at what’s going on in the online betting industry.
Is it legal?
Yes, although that depends on where you are located. The Supreme Court ruling of 2018 handed governance of sports betting over to state governments. In short this meant that it is now up to a state to decide if they will allow sports betting. Many states jumped on board immediately, as they understood that this could be a great way to boost the local economy and bring in more tax dollars that could be spent elsewhere.
However, just because a state has legalized sports betting, this does not mean that you can bet online within that state. Mobile wagering is a separate market and, in many cases, requires its own legislation completely separate to land-based sports betting.
So, where is it legal?
Right now, you can place a bet online in any one of several states. Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were among the first states to cater to online sports fans. Each state allows players within their state limits to place bets online. While there are rules governing the age of the person placing the bet, most states allow both residents and visitors to place bets.
The remaining states where you can bet online are as follows: West Virginia, Rhode Island, Iowa, and Indiana. Mississippi also allows online betting, but it is highly restricted. Fans can only place mobile bets if they are inside a casino. This seems completely pointless, though, as the casino will no doubt have its own sportsbook.
Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington D.C. have all recently passed sports betting legislation but have yet to make any decisions on their online operations. Montana has also recently legalized sports betting, and the state has taken a similar approach to Mississippi by limiting online sports betting to sports bars and casinos. The idea is that sports bars can have online kiosks that will allow customers to place bets on games without having to leave the premises. This makes a lot more sense than Mississippi’s approach or reasoning.
Will you get better odds online?
Although there are currently a limited number of states where you can legally place bets online, the industry’s major players have entered the market. It’s already a highly-competitive market, with online providers offering competitive odds and, in some cases, free bets for new customers.
For those fortunate enough to live in a state with online sports betting legislation, the chances are that they can, and will, get better odds online than they will in a land-based casino or from a sportsbook. This could be due to lower costs and overhead for the online provider, but, like we said, it’s more likely due to the competitive nature of the market. While land-based sportsbooks may have an advantage by being the only sportsbook in an area, online providers can compete with their counterparts anywhere within state lines.
As you can imagine, the convenience factor, coupled with potentially better odds, makes online sports betting a much more attractive option than visiting a casino to place a bet.
Are there any plans for other states to follow suit?
This is hard to predict. While there are many states that are discussing the possibility of legalizing sports betting, we can’t be sure what their approach will be regarding online sports books.
At the moment there are eleven states that are in the process of discussing sports betting legislation. Kansas, Kentucky, and Virginia are waiting for the next legislative session to push forward any decision. Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, and Massachusetts are still considering their position. In Colorado and Louisiana, a state referendum may be required before any legislation can pass, while in North Dakota, tribal gaming conflicts have seen two bills failing—one in the house and one in the senate.
In Maine, things are a little complicated. The bill went through the house and senate with no issues, but the state Governor Janet Mills decided not to sign it. The bill will become law three days into the next legislative session in 2020, but (and this is crucial) Mills could opt to veto the bill within those first three days. By not signing the bill, the governor gave herself a considerable amount of thinking time so she can make a more informed decision in 2020. Until then, Maine residents are in limbo.
Who will never allow it?
While it’s hard to say never, there are some states where it seems highly unlikely that online sports betting will ever come into existence. Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, Washington, Nebraska, South Carolina, Vermont, Idaho, and Georgia have made no efforts at all to legalize or even discuss sports betting. Hawaii passed a bill to study the industry, but that’s as far as it got.
Minnesota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota would all face tribal gaming conflicts if they were to introduce a bill to legalize sports betting across their respective territories. So, it’s pretty unlikely that anything will come to pass in these states. And then there is Utah, where sports betting is a taboo that will never be spoken of.
So, while online sports betting may come to many US states, it’s highly unlikely that it will ever become a nationwide industry. Even so, as more and more states look to push through their legislation, we may just see an industry boom to rival that of the online poker boom of the early 2000s.