Ever since the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the foundations were set for an extremely exciting online gambling revolution across the U.S. With states now able to create their own gambling laws, more and more locations are launching online casino and online sports betting industries. 

New Jersey started the trend in 2018, but by now, almost 40 states have legalized online gambling in some capacity. While online casinos are still fairly restricted, sports betting has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, demonstrating the huge appetite for legal sports wagering. 

Several more U.S. states are poised to imminently legalize online gambling as well. Keep reading for the lowdown. We’ll uncover new gambling states, give a comprehensive breakdown of currently legal locations and show you the most popular options. 

Upcoming states to legalize online gambling 

First things first, here are some of the most hotly tipped states to legalize online gambling in 2024. North Carolina recently became the most recent addition to America’s growing legal sports betting portfolio, launching in March. The Tar Heel State has yet to open its online sports betting operations, but it’s only a matter of time. 

Elsewhere, analysts expect Oklahoma and Georgia to be next on the list of legal sports betting states, although residents may have to wait slightly longer, as they only estimate a 25 percent chance of this happening. Other states, including Missouri, Minnesota and South Carolina, are slowly getting there, but the legislative process to push through legal sports betting often requires bipartisan agreements by state representatives and senators, so it’s no easy task. 

Some states that will unfortunately be forced to wait several years for legal online sports betting to arrive include Alabama, California and Texas. Lawmakers have shown no desire to even start the conversations in these locations, so residents will have to wait. 

What was the first state to legalize online gambling? 

New Jersey was the first state to legalize online gambling in 2018. The Garden State was actually the reason why PASPA was overturned in 2018. The state embarked on a legal battle, arguing that the legislation was an unconstitutional infringement of states’ right to govern independently. 

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey in May 2018, and by June 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation that made retail and online sports betting possible.     

Most popular legal online gambling options 

With legal online gambling flourishing across the U.S., it’s important to know your options. Check below for the most popular legal online gambling avenues for citizens in legal states: 

  • Sports betting: Sportsbooks have proliferated from Oregon to New England in recent years, offering bettors a fantastic way to enjoy their favorite sports. Functionality continues to improve, creating a fervent landscape for sports wagering enthusiasts. It isn’t just major league games that sports fans can place wagers on either. Industry-leading sportsbooks can also offer odds on smaller fixtures like the Little Big Game, a local Monterey County college game that has been contested for almost an entire century.
  • Horse racing: The U.S. is steeped in horse racing culture, especially in states like Kentucky. Its cultural importance has traditionally led to slightly looser rules compared to overall sports betting. Pari-mutuel horse racing betting has been legal in dozens of states for decades, and it continues to be one of the most popular options with U.S. gamblers.
  • Online casinos: Online casino gambling is still only legal in six states, although the tide is beginning to change. Games like online slots and live dealer titles have contributed massively to this, creating incredibly fun ways for casino fans to play their favorite options from home. 

Legal alternatives for residents who cannot gamble legally 

For those who live in a state yet to legalize online gambling, there is a wave of sweepstakes casinos that offer a great legal alternative. These platforms use a virtual currency to allow players to enjoy casino games for free, with no purchase necessary. Taking advantage of a sweepstakes no deposit bonus is the best way to start, allowing players to enjoy online slots and table games. 

Complete list of legal online gambling states 

Here is a complete list of legal online gambling states as of March 2024: 

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

There are a few caveats to be aware of with certain states. For example, Florida had to close online sports betting operations for two years after a legal objection to the state’s 2021 pact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. It recently opened back up, but ongoing legal fights could change this. South Dakota and Mississippi are also stalling on mobile or online sports betting, despite legalizing in-person sports betting. Time will tell whether lawmakers manage to push through legal avenues for sportsbook apps and online websites before the end of 2024.

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