Who’s Ready for Sports Betting on the 2019-20 NFL Season?

The legal NFL sports betting outlook across North America.

The Legal NFL Sports Betting Outlook across North America, Aug. 2019

With the 2019-20 NFL Preseason well underway and the Regular Season fast approaching, we thought it might be a good time to take a closer look at the current legal status of sports betting across the US and Canada. For some it’s legal. For others it’s illegal. And as usual, there are a few in-betweens that require greater explanation.

As many of you know, a cursory glance will cover our situation in the Great White North, so we’ll get to that one first. Our neighbors to the south, however, have a lot more legal fluctuation to deal with these days. Some are even scrambling to get their sportsbooks open before the first official NFL kick-off of the season on September 5, 2019.

Legal NFL Sports Betting in Canada

Above the 49th parallel, the situation has maintained status quo for years. We can bet on sports till the cows come home, but it’s more like buying a lottery ticket. You grab a slip at your local retailer, fill out a series of picks (3 to 6 in most provinces), and hand it to the cashier for purchase. The odds aren’t too appealing, since we’re forced to bet parlay style, where all picks have to be correct or the entire bet is lost.

Yes, straight up betting is still illegal in Canada. But that statement means more than meets the eye. You can’t bet on a single even “in” Canada, but you can bet on a single event at any reputable online sportsbook “outside” of Canada.

That makes two advantages we have over most Americans.

US Sports Betting Laws to Date (Aug 13, 2019)

Following last year’s reversal of PASPA, state governments immediately began legalizing, or debating legalization of, sports betting. So far, 10 states have a lawful sports betting market – some with mobile offerings, some without. They include, in order of implementation:

  • Nevada: Legal since 1949, Nevada was the only state to offer legalized sports betting during the 26-year reign of PASPA (1992-2018). Local sportsbooks are available within most of the state’s casinos. In 2010, mobile sports betting was added, giving punters the ability to place a legal bet from anywhere in Nevada.
  • Delaware: This state’s sports betting laws went into effect the moment PASPA’s 26-year reign ended in May 2018, thanks to a 2009 law giving DE Lottery the right to expand its parlay products. Only PASPA stood in the way. Therefore, upon its repeal, sportsbooks were instantly legal. However, wagers may only be placed at one of the state’s three land-based casinos, Delaware Park, Dover Downs or Harrington Raceway. While mobile sports betting is technically legal, no authorized provider has launched an online or mobile sports betting app.
  • New Jersey: Sports betting was legalized in New Jersey as quickly as the governor could get his signature on the bill. Within 72 hours, the first bets were taken at land-based casinos. By July 2018, online and mobile sportsbooks went live.
  • Mississippi: Legalization of sports wagers had been on the agenda since 2017 in Mississippi. Once legislation was capable of moving forward, it did so, going into effect on August 1, 2018. Like all other forms of gambling in the state, sports betting is limited to physical casinos, on land or on water, but not online.
  • West Virginia: Punters in West Virginia have been able to access retail sportsbooks since August 2018, and online sportsbooks since December 2018. However, a legal dispute caused the state’s sole mobile sports betting app to shut down that same month. No additional mobile offerings have appeared since.
  • New Mexico: While the state of New Mexico has not legalized betting on sports, one tribal casino, the Santa Ana Star, offers a legal sportsbook under its Class III gaming license. The state isn’t happy about it, but would have to amend existing laws to put a stop to it.
  • Pennsylvania: Technically, sports betting became legal in Pennsylvania the moment PASPA was lifted, but regulatory guidelines were nowhere near ready. The first sports bets were not accepted until November of 2018. Likewise, the first online and mobile sportsbooks appeared until May of 2019.
  • Rhode Island: Sports wagering was passed in June 2018, with the first bets taken at the very end of 2018. In March 2019, legislation was updated to approve mobile sports betting. Launch is pending, with the goal of offering a mobile sports product before the starts of the 2019-20 NFL regular season.
  • Arkansas: Some would say Arkansas is late to the game, but better late than never, right? The Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is currently the only casino to offer sports betting in the state, accepting its first wagers in July 2019. Others are planning to follow suit in the coming months.
  • New York: On the law books since 2013, it took New York until July 2019 to finalize regulations and authorizations for sports betting. The first land-based offerings came along last month, but so far, the state has no plans to integrate online or mobile sports betting.

Legal But Pending Launch

The following list of US states have already moved to legalize the activity, and are currently racing to deliver a legal NFL sports betting product before September 5.

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee

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