In 2018, the US Supreme Court repealed a federal ban on sports betting that had been in place since 1992. This was the result of a long battle between the NCAA and retail sportsbooks, which continued long after the ban was put in place.
Throughout the years, the NCAA (along with major league bodies of the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB) lobbied to thwart any attempts at legalizing sports betting. Meanwhile, northeastern states were building cases that would prove it was unconstitutional for the US federal government to regulate sports betting in lieu of local state bodies.
In particular, New Jersey and Pennsylvania worked to prove that state governments could regulate their own betting markets. Already, retail casinos were active in both areas (New Jersey’s Atlantic City, in particular), which helped prove that they could also handle sports betting markets.
In 2018, New Jersey was successful in proving that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to determine a state’s relationship to sports betting. Given both New Jersey and Pennsylvania had been working to repeal the 1992 ban, both states already had provisional bills in place to launch and regulate online and in-person markets.
New Jersey opted for an open market plan, which has seen online and retail locations partner to launch state-of-the-art betting platforms. Pennsylvania has also done well onboarding new sportsbooks, but lacks quantity, New Jersey having the most at 18 for local residents. Even so, the Keystone State isn’t far behind in revenue.
Surprisingly enough, neither New Jersey nor Pennsylvania was the first state to open its sports betting market.
Retail locations launched 5 June 2018
Prior to the 2018 ruling from the Supreme Court, Delaware had already created legislation that would allow for the launch of sportsbooks should the Supreme Court repeal its ban. This meant that regulatory bodies and practices were already set in place as part of a provisional bill.
Currently, Delaware offers sports betting at three in-state casinos, which means online options are off the table for locals. However, the same provisional bill that allowed for a quick start to sports betting also mentions additional locations and online sportsbooks. These could be legalized in the coming years based on voter interest.
Retail and mobile betting launched 11 June 2018
New Jersey was prepared to launch its sports betting revenue into the stratosphere for a variety of reasons. First, the state has a popular casino market along its Atlantic City strip, which are prime locations to launch sportsbooks with.
Big-name casinos like Borgata and SugarHouse were already familiar amongst gamers, which made onboarding new sports bettors easy. Additionally, New Jersey’s open-market approach has seen a range of competitive offers from sportsbooks looking to attract newcomers. Better deals lead to more action, and New Jersey is the proof.
Retail locations launched 26 November 2018, mobile betting launched early 2019
Though the US’s smallest state, Rhode Island has had an active sports betting market for years via the state-run lottery. Though not quite the same as a moneyline wager, the lottery helped Rhode Island launch its sports betting market, as the lottery was able to provide regulatory insight for new sportsbooks.
Less than a year later, Rhode Island launched its mobile betting market to cater to remote residents who were unable to travel to the state’s two retail locations.
Retail and mobile betting launched November 2018
Similar to New Jersey, Pennsylvania already had a robust casino market that was able to help launch its sports betting locations. Prior to the 2018 decision from the Supreme Court, Pennsylvania had signed a bill into place to allow markets to launch quickly, along with DFS and online poker (which are treated similarly in legal terms).
Once again, similar to New Jersey, Pennsylvania sportsbooks are able to offer some of the most competitive welcome bonuses in the industry. Unibet has even partnered with the Philadelphia Eagles to create unique games with the team’s branding.
Retail locations launched 16 July 2019, mobile betting expected to launch in 2022
At the moment, New York only allows in-person wagering at a handful of locations, which has proved unpopular with residents who are eager to back their team. With the 2022 state budget including certain points that indicate mobile betting may become legal, residents will have to wait for updates to the current state constitution.
Given the population of New York, it’s expected to compete with New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s market once its mobile sector is launched.
Mobile betting launched 30 December 2019
Similar to Rhode Island, New Hampshire had an existing state lottery that allowed them to launch their mobile betting market without a hitch. At the moment, retail locations have yet to be established, though they are legal by law.