US Gambling Laws: A Guide to the Most and Least Restrictive Betting Laws


Betting in the U.S. is a popular activity, but state autonomy regarding betting regulations means laws can change significantly over the space of a few miles.

Keeping up to date with betting regulations can also be a challenging task for consumers, with regular changes and proposals that aim to legalize specific betting markets in different jurisdictions.

This guide will explore some of the most and least restrictive betting regulations in America to give you a better idea of the laws in place.

Betting in the US

Betting in the U.S. has undergone many rule changes over the years with one of the most significant coming in 2018. Since 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibited sports betting outside Nevada (with some exceptions in Oregon, Montana, and Delaware). 

This was challenged in the Supreme Court, with the eventual decision to overturn the Act and allow states to decide whether or not they would legalize sports betting.

By this time, online betting had also grown in popularity and states now have the option of various gambling markets including online, sports, tribal, lotteries, commercial betting, pari-mutuel, and charitable.

States With the Most Restrictive Betting Laws

Hawaii and Utah are the most restrictive states when it comes to betting regulations, with both states offering no legal way to gamble at all.

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Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas offer some betting options while restricting others. For example, Texas offers citizen charitable betting, lotteries, pari-mutuel, and tribal betting, but prohibits commercial, online, racetrack, and sports betting. Sports betting expert Jonathan Askew explains that citizens can work around current restrictions with offshore betting operators offering a range of licensed options for Texans specifically

Most states that prohibit online betting have rules in place that stop operators from setting up within their jurisdictions. Offshore operators that are licensed in other areas provide bettors with a variety of betting markets including sports betting and casino games. Likewise, crypto casino sites are accessible throughout the country and offer players fast and secure transactions as well as new and innovative games.

Many proposals are currently being discussed across the U.S. that would see states legalize sports betting or casino betting. As states continue to post record-breaking betting revenues, states are starting to take notice.

Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama are all in talks about the possibility of legalizing sports betting, but proposals will typically have to pass through several votes before they reach a public vote.

Potentially losing out to millions in revenue every year is forcing states to at least discuss the possibility of passing new betting legislation. Many bills that have been proposed also put forward the creation of regulatory bodies that would oversee the new industry and ensure operators adhere to rules.

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States With the Least Restrictive Betting Laws

There are a few states that allow all the betting markets available to them including Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York.

There are also some other states that offer a variety of in-person betting opportunities but are still to pass legislation to allow online betting companies to operate. These include Colorado, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

It is likely that legislation will be passed to allow online operators in states with less restrictive betting regulations. With offshore options available to consumers, states are losing valuable revenue streams.


The online betting industry has made a massive difference to betting in the U.S. and could help states that had previously struggled to push through legislation to gain the support they need.

States that have implemented infrastructures and regulatory frameworks to support developing betting industries continue to benefit from record revenue streams.

Those that fail to do so could see vast sums of money leaving the state through offshore betting, with local governments missing out on tax and licensing fees.

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