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How to Bet in a Non-Sports Betting State
Since May 2018 – when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, more commonly known as PASPA – the availability of legal and regulated sports betting has increased substantially across America.
This has allowed companies like BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel to receive licenses and operate their mobile sportsbooks in a growing number of states.
However, some states have yet to legalize sports betting and don’t have a clear road map toward doing so. This includes especially populous states like California, Florida, and Texas, leaving a large number of would-be sports bettors to wonder when, where, or how they’ll be able to get in on the action.
What are the Risks of Illegal Sports Betting?
As a starting point, trying to circumvent sports betting laws isn’t a good idea.
American sportsbooks face heavy incentives not to facilitate illegal bets. They have their own measures in place to verify the identities and locations of their players, and their geolocation tests won’t be outsmarted by a typical VPN (Virtual Private Network).
If a sportsbook finds you’ve placed a bet illegally despite their best attempts to stop you, they won’t let you take your winnings, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make further bets with them.
While there are seemingly options to bet online with platforms that don’t tightly adhere to state betting laws – including a number of offshore websites or sportsbooks – the potential downside of doing business with them is worse.
Like sportsbooks, bettors are liable for placing illegal bets; both parties get in trouble. The difference with offshore providers is that United States courts can’t directly enforce judgments against them. If you find an operator willing to take your money for an illegal bet, there’s no guarantee you’ll see it again, regardless of whether the bet wins.
Legal Sports Betting by State
The requirements to place a legal bet on sports in the United States are simple: be physically located within a jurisdiction where placing a bet is legal, and be of legal age to place the bet (21 in most jurisdictions, but 18 in others). There are no requirements tied to residency, and mobile sportsbooks won’t restrict users based on providing an address from a state where sports betting isn’t legal during the sign-up process.
As of April 2023, the following states and territories have legalized online sports betting:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Additionally, four more states – Delaware, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Dakota – allow sports betting at retail locations even though they have yet to legalize it in an online capacity. As with online sportsbooks, anyone of legal age in a given state can bet on sports in that state’s retail sportsbook locations.
Top Sports Gaming Options in States without Legal Sports Betting
Even if a state hasn’t yet legalized sports betting, that doesn’t mean residents of that state don’t have ways to put money on their favorite teams and players. Several of the names behind the nation’s leading online sportsbooks also offer daily fantasy competitions, prop contests, and other such games on their platforms that give fans more ways to win. Other brands have built their names squarely on the daily fantasy experience and offer innovative ways to play for fans over a wider range of states.
Some such brands include:
- FanDuel (DFS)
- DraftKings (DFS)
Another mobile-oriented platform launched in 2021, ParlayPlay is an entrant to the daily fantasy sports market that – as its name suggests – offers an experience built on parlays.
It’s a simple concept: players pick an event, make picks on two or more player props of their choice, and win money if their picks are correct. Players are given a wide variety of line options for each athlete involved in the props, which can help them build their parlay and increase their potential payout without having to make predictions they aren’t as confident in.
Two types of challenges are offered for each sport at ParlayPlay: ‘More/Less’ and ‘Hit It’. The former challenges players to predict whether athletes will eclipse or fall short of a number in a certain statistic, while the latter challenges players to predict a range that an athlete’s stat total over the course of a game will fall into.
ParlayPlay offers Free2Play events that are available everywhere in the United States and Canada, but their full platform is accessible in 26 states (and D.C.). These states include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
Horse Racing Betting in Non-Legal States
Betting on horse racing is a long-standing tradition in human history and is regulated differently than other forms of sports betting in the United States. This is due to horse racing being governed by a unique legal framework established in the Interstate Horseracing Act (IHA) of 1978, which delegated control of all aspects of horse racing to state-level racing commissions.
As of 2022, betting on horse racing online is legal in 40 states. The following are the exceptions:
- District of Columbia
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Traditionally, betting on horse racing is done at physical locations – either off-track betting (OTB) facilities or at designated spaces at the tracks themselves. Of the above states, the only ones lacking such locations are Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, and Utah.