Gambling laws in the USA – NBA Betting, Other Sports & iGaming

The USA is a minefield of state-by-state laws when it comes to gambling at a licensed establishment. There are, of course, many loopholes, but if you risk them, you may not fall under the protection of consumer rights laws put in place to safeguard American consumers. Consequently, understanding the laws that apply to gambling in the US will give you an idea of where and how you can gamble at a bona fide gambling institution.

Sports betting (Placing bets on the NBA & other sports)

By far the most popularly licensed form of gambling across the states is sports betting. The NBA and NFL capture the most bets, while MLS, NHL, and NBL fetch billions in bets per month across the country. There are also plenty of other sports to wager, such as tennis, NASCAR, horse racing, dog racing, and sports from overseas, like European soccer leagues. However, not all states allow sports betting, and the way in which you can place bets legally also differs depending on where you live.

In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, almost all forms of sports betting are legal both in the land-based retail sector, in casinos, and online via brands such as the Borgata Casino. Most sports betting fans in these states follow either the Brooklyn Nets, formerly the New Jersey Americans and New Jersey Nets, or Philadelphia 76ers, which are both popular NBA teams.

Here’s a list of states where you can legally place bets on the NBA:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • New York (Since Jan 2022)
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Nevada (+ online poker)
  • Michigan (+ online casinos/poker)
  • New Jersey (+ online casinos/poker)
  • Pennsylvania (+ online casinos/poker)
  • Connecticut (+ online casinos/poker)
  • Delaware (+ online casinos/poker)
  • West Virginia (+ online casinos/poker)

How to know you are placing bets at a legal gambling establishment

Checking whether a venue, be it online or land-based, is legally allowed to accept sports bets or operate online casino games, like video slots and table games, requires research and a little common sense. It is perhaps much easier to find a legal online sports betting site for your NBA bets versus offline retail betting shops.

Also, check the type of bets offered and make sure they are in line with odds online using an odds checker – one should be available online even in states where sports or NBA betting is not allowed. Also, be sure to check the latest basket news for player stats and compare stats provided at the sports betting venue.

  • Legal Online NBA Betting: In the states listed above, there are several well-known online sports betting sites, which you can find by using sports betting and online casino review websites. These sites will accept US dollars only. In other words, if you come across a website that accepts other currencies like crypto, Euros, Canadian Dollars, etc., then this site is not legally licensed in your state. Some of the most well-known licensed sites across the US include FanDuel, Bet MGM, Draftkings, Wynnbet, 888, Betway, Borgata, Caesar casino & sportsbook.
  • Legal Land-based NBA retail betting: It is not always easy to determine whether a small shop accepting cash basketball bets is legal or not. You can check online for a license, but this is not always easy. Therefore, you will need to use some discretion in your decision to gamble. Large land-based casinos nearly all have sport betting centers inside and are extremely unlikely to operate with no license. Branded betting shops, well-known brands with multiple branches, and those that operate self-service betting terminals will nearly all have a license – especially if they are in the public eye.

Out of the two, online sports betting and casinos for the purpose of NBA betting or casino gaming are the easiest places to legally bet with peace of mind. With land-based gambling, such as private gaming or betting joints, just be wary of what you are getting yourself into. Look for Google reviews, check the website to see its licensing information.

Why are some states offering legal online gambling and others do not?

At the federal level, it is illegal for US banks to process US dollar deposits and/or withdrawals to any unlicensed online betting or casino website. However, at state level legislation can be passed with a majority vote in favor of creating a licensing body. This seems to negate the federal law on financial transactions so casino payments via US dollar from US banks are once again permitted.

Seeing as most states do not have any form of licensing set up and have not managed to push a majority vote through, there is no way for a company to offer online gambling services. Yet, those that have already collected the votes required can offer online sports betting for sports such as the NBA, for online poker, horse racing, dog racing, and online casino games (iGaming).

In some cases, the state legislation needs amendments, for example, some states will not vote for the legalization of online casinos but are in favor of mobile/online sports betting. To get the vote pushed through quickly, many of the states in which online sports betting is legal dropped the online casino portion of the proposal.