How Legal Sports Betting has Grown in the Past Two Years

The Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 on the 14th of May 2018, effectively making it possible for states to legalize sports betting. A lot has happened since then, and the landscape of legal sports gambling in the US looks very different to what it was two years ago.

Where is sports betting legal?

There are currently 22 states in the US where a bill has been passed to allow legalized sports betting. Legal sports betting markets are in operation in 17 of these states.

That’s three more markets in operation and one additional state to pass a bill since we wrote our special report on sports betting in the US earlier this year. It’s now possible to lay wagers in Michigan, Illinois and Colorado. And sports bettors in Washington can expect the market to open within the next year, after passing a bill this March.

Things are indeed moving fast, and we couldn’t be happier about it!

States with legal sports betting markets in operation:


Market Launch


July 2019


May 2020


June 2018


March 2020


September 2019


August 2019


March 2020


August 2018


May 2019


Legal before

New Hampshire

December 2019

New Jersey

August 2018

New Mexico

October 2018

New York

July 2019


October 2019


May 2019

Rhode Island

November 2018

West Virginia

August 2019

States that have passed a bill (no sports betting yet):

North Carolina




Washington D.C.

How much money has been wagered legally in sports?

In March 2020, almost $22 billion had been wagered since the PASPA was overturned in 2018, according to Legal Sports Report. Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania accounted for almost $19 billion of that number.

Nevada is still the leader of the pack with a total handle of approximately $9.5 billion since the PASPA was overturned. But New Jersey is catching up fast at approximately $7 billion wagered.

The Garden State has a hefty lead over the rest of the newcomers due to being the first state to legalize sports betting and going live in August 2018. Having a full mobile betting market in operation has certainly helped as well.

The handle in Pennsylvania is at around $2.3 billion after a year of legal sports betting in the state. Bettors in the Keystone State have also had full mobile options to choose from.

We should probably expect the rest of the states with full mobile betting available (Colorado, Indiana, New Hampshire and West Virginia) to start catching up once they have had more time on the market.

What’s next for legal sports betting in the US?

Earlier this year we wrote about four things that we expected to trend in the sports betting market. All of these things seem to be happening, and we should expect these trends to get stronger and stronger.

Here’s a brief recap of what we wrote:

Live in-game betting becomes more popular

Live in-game betting has been extremely popular in Europe for years. With sports books receiving real-time data of the games and bettors now being able to wager from their mobile devices, it’s never been easier to make in-game bets. All of the big players in the US are releasing mobile applications, and the number of in-game bets available is set to rise. Besides the ever-updating live odds for the moneyline, the spread, and point total, bettors can put their money on things such as who scores the next points or which team will win the ongoing quarter, for example.

More individual player props

Individual player bets and props are set to become more popular, and the selection of such bets offered by bookmakers will be more diverse. Now more than ever, fans are interested in their favorite star players (often over teams), and putting some money down on their performances makes the in-game experience more thrilling.

US sportsbooks go into aggressive customer acquisition mode

The legal sports gambling business is still finding its footing in the US, and competition is ramping up. All of the big players will be trying to capture as much of the currently available sports betting market as they can, so expect to see a lot of marketing campaigns and sign-up deals for new customers.

The rise of e-sports wagering

E-sports have become hugely popular in recent years and that popularity is set to trend in sports betting as well. According to one estimate, the amount of money wagered worldwide in e-sports could reach up to $12.9 billion this year. With the global betting market estimated to be at a total of $250 billion wagered, that $12.9 billion might seem like a surprisingly significant chunk of the whole pot.


Legal sports betting is still very new in the US, and there is a lot more to come in terms of innovation and many more markets to open. Sportsbooks have taken a temporary hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but when popular sports are back on, the action will surely resume quickly.

And when it does, we’ll be looking to reap the rewards that the market is offering us.

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