The Most Gambling-Friendly US States, Ranked

Mobile sports betting continues to post record numbers in the US, with the number of states approving online wagering growing by the year. Online casino gaming, while operating in fewer states, shows a continued upward trajectory as well.

While daily fantasy sports (DFS) platforms operate in more than 40 states, the process for legalization for mobile sports betting and online casino gaming has taken a bit of a slower path across the US. The following list looks at where some of the top online gaming markets in the US stand on what is legally offered in the state.

The rankings tiers are defined as follows:

Tier 1 (Most Friendly): Online sports betting, online casinos, and DFS are legally offered, or soon to launch.

Tier 2: Two of the three verticals legal and available.

Tier 3: One of the three verticals legal and available.

Tier 4 (Least Friendly): States that don’t allow DFS or any kind of online gambling.

Tier 1

New Jersey

Always at the forefront of the US legal gambling industry, New Jersey stands as one of a handful of states that offers legal online casinos and sports betting, as well as DFS.

Online casinos debuted in the Garden State in 2013, with online sports betting going live in July 2018. In both categories, New Jersey hosts the largest market of any US state.

New Jersey passed legislation to regulate DFS sites in 2017.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania decided to go all-out when it legalized online gambling in October 2017. The package of bills that went through legislature approved both online sports betting and casinos in the state.

Mobile sportsbooks launched in May 2019, and online casinos started appearing on the Pennsylvania landscape a couple of months later in July 2019.

The Keystone state passed regulations on DFS sites in 2017. As the end of 2020 approaches, Pennsylvania makes up one of the biggest legal online gambling markets in the states.

West Virginia

West Virginia doesn’t offer the number of online gambling options available in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but the Mountain State still holds status as a pioneer in legal online gambling among US states.

Online sports betting launched in West Virginia in August 2019, and the state’s emerging mobile sports betting industry includes platforms from DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM.

The first of the state’s online casinos went live in July 2020 with the debut of DraftKings Casino. DFS play is permitted in West Virginia, although no explicit laws are in place outlining regulations for DFS sites.

Michigan

Michigan appears poised to become one of the biggest legal online gambling markets in the US. A package of bills signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December 2019 legalized online casinos and sports betting, while also formally approving DFS platforms in the Wolverine State.

Both commercial and tribal casinos are set to offer online gaming, and Michigan is expected to take a place as one of the most important online gambling hubs in the US.

Previous to December 2019, DFS sites operated without regulation in Michigan.

Tier 2

Nevada

The mix of legal online gambling options in Nevada is unique to the Silver State. The live gambling mecca offers legal online sports betting and poker and is the only state to offer that particular combination.

DFS platforms can also operate in Nevada but must go through the same licensing and approval process required for other forms of online gambling. DraftKings and FanDuel, the two biggest DFS operators, have chosen to stay out of the Nevada market for now.

Online casinos could come to Nevada at some point, but for now, casino gaming is only available at land-based casinos.

Delaware

Delaware, along with New Jersey, holds status as one of the pioneer states in the US online gambling industry. The state was one of the first to launch legal online casinos, doing so in 2013.

The First State was, appropriately, the first US state outside of Nevada to launch sports betting, and Delaware laws also permit casinos to offer online sports betting. Despite the legal clearance, online sports betting isn’t currently available in Delaware.

Delaware does regulate DFS sites, and looking at its gambling laws perhaps the state belongs in Tier 1. Until online sports betting actually goes live, however, Delaware only offers online casinos and DFS.

Colorado

Aside from Delaware and Nevada, Colorado and other states in the Tier 2 category offer legal online sports betting and DFS. Similar to Michigan, Colorado’s emerging online sports betting market has attracted virtually all of the top sports betting brands in the industry.

The state’s expansion into legal online gaming doesn’t include mobile casinos for now. Colorado players have to travel to one of three mountain towns (Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, Central City) to enjoy casino games in the Centennial State.

Indiana

DFS sites have legally operated in Indiana since the state outlined regulations for the industry in 2016. Sports betting, both live and online, was legalized in May 2019.

Online sportsbooks started to go live in the Hoosier State in October 2019, and the state shows promising upward trends for its new sports wagering industry.

Mobile casino gaming might be a longshot for legalization in Indiana, however. Indiana is one of the few states where online casino gaming is explicitly illegal, putting players at risk of possible criminal prosecution for playing at an illegal gambling site.

Illinois

The online sports betting market in Illinois is in its infancy. BetRivers became the first mobile sportsbook to go live in the state in June 2020.

DraftKings, FanDuel, PointBet, and William Hill US have all joined the market since then, as Illinois’ new mobile sports betting industry rapidly expands. The legal status of DFS was in limbo in the Prairie State for more than four years, but an April 2020 ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court declared DFS as skill games, and therefore legal under state law.

Online casino gaming isn’t permitted in Illinois as of yet.

Tier 3

California

The most populous state in the US is one of several in which DFS sites operate without explicit regulation. DraftKings, FanDuel, and several other operators offer DFS in the Golden State, which hosts the nation’s biggest DFS market.

Online sports betting and casinos might be a long way from ever becoming legal in California. The state’s complex casino industry includes more than 60 different Native American tribes that operate casinos, and so far those gaming interests have been unable to come to an agreement on how online gaming would operate.

New York

Retail sports betting and DFS are live in the Empire State, and it appears that online sports betting could come to New York at some point.

Pro-gaming lawmakers are still fighting in a multi-year effort to legalize mobile sports betting in New York. If the neighboring state of New Jersey is any indication, legal online wagering would provide a big boost to the New York state budget.

Texas

Like California, DFS platforms operate without regulations in Texas, and the Lone Star State makes up one of the nation’s biggest DFS markets.

Online sports betting and casino gaming aren’t currently legal in Texas, and it appears that might be the case for the foreseeable future.

Tier 4

Multiple States

The list of states without any form of legal online casino gaming, sports betting, or DFS includes these six names: Arizona, Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Hawaii, and Washington.

Washington passed a bill legalizing retail sports betting in March 2020, but the legislation doesn’t include mobile wagering.

Louisiana voters approved DFS in the state in 2018, but lawmakers have yet to agree on tax rates and regulations for the industry. Sports betting is on the ballot in Louisiana and will go to a public vote this November.

About the Author

Geoff Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.