More than five years ago, the US finally repealed the ban on sports betting, allowing each state to legalize gambling if they choose. Since then, a large number of states already have a flourishing gambling industry in place. Still more states are in the process of converting to offer gambling, and others are still refusing to change.

Of course, with states having wildly different rules and regulations surrounding gambling, it can make it hard to know where to play. Worse still, for players looking for the best gambling apps in the US in 2023 it might not even be a possibility in the state they’re living in.

With that in mind, this is a detailed look at the different states and where online gambling is actually legal. We’re also going to take a look at the apps that are available, and what you should be looking for in the best betting app.

Where is betting legal?

At the time of writing, there are now 26 states to have legalized online betting. However, not all of them offer the same level of online betting. In fact, only 23 of these states have full mobile betting in place with a variety of options. Four of the states offer limited mobile betting, but this is likely to improve. These states also allow in-person betting as well. Currently, the states are:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • Washington DC

Of course, each of these states has different rules and regulations in place. Additionally, just because online gambling is legal, it doesn’t mean that all betting apps are legal within that state.

This means that players need to check whether an app actually can accept players from that state. Each state has its own governing body and licensing system which means betting apps have to acquire this license in order to operate there.

Up-and-coming legalization of betting

For those players residing in Vermont, North Carolina, and Maine, there is some good news. These three states are in the process of overhauling their regulations and are well on the way to legalizing online betting. In fact, for most of these states, it’s already legal, it simply hasn’t gone live yet, and is most likely to launch in 2024.

Unfortunately, the remaining states are somewhat slower. Some, like Texas, still have heavy resistance against legalizing online betting in any form. Though legislation has been put forward, it’s been rejected time and time again.

That being said, for players in these states, there are often alternative options. Many of these states permit in-person betting, it just can’t be done online. 

Offshore betting sites

A very popular option for players in non-licensed betting states, offshore betting sites are simply sites that are based in countries other than the United States. These platforms have a wide array of betting options available for players to enjoy. Not only that, but they’re fully licensed and regulated within that country.

But are they legal in the States? This is a grey area as there is no law to say players from the US can’t play on these sites, no matter which state they’re in. However, it is important to remember that there are some downsides to using these sites. For instance, if something does go wrong and the site refuses to payout, then players are more than likely going to lose that money. US-licensed sportsbooks generally offer more protection fo players in case something goes wrong.

Choosing betting apps

With security and trust, big factors in the online gaming industry, it’s essential that players, no matter which state they are from, know what to look for when choosing the best betting site or betting app. Aside from requiring a licence from the specific state if online betting is legal and licensed, there are other factors to consider.

  • Reputation: check out reviews of the site. These can be from reputable sources as well as checking out what the players themselves say about it.
  • Security: in addition to a licence, betting sites should have strict SSL encryption protocols in place to prevent player data falling into the wrong hands. There should also be responsible gambling protocols in place, too.
  • Payments: a range of payment methods is a must. This can include card, eWallet and prepaid card options. Payments should be verified, trustworthy providers and offer speedy transactions for both deposits and withdrawals. Fees, if there are any, should be transparent.
  • Betting options: any betting site, be it a casino or sportsbook, needs to have a wide array of games or events to bet on. There should be an auditor seal to prove gaming fairness is observed as well.
  • Support: no matter the app, there should be 24/7 support in place. Preferably, this will be in the form of a live chat which can be accessed anywhere at any time and be manned by helpful staff.
  • Platform: the mobile app should be easy to use and match any desktop site that’s available. It should be easy to navigate and have the same features and functions as the main platform. Finally, it should be compatible with both Android and iOS devices.

What to remember

For those in states where online betting is legal, there are always rules to abide by. Bettors need to be over 21 in most cases (some allow it from age 18), and will be asked to prove this when making an account on any legal betting app. Additionally, they will need to turn on geo-location software so that the betting app can see that the player really is residing within the legal state. If the player is not within the borders of the state, they will not be able to place real money bets or claim any winnings.

At the end of the day, online betting is becoming more widely available in the USA. However, it’s still a matter of time for many states, leaving a large proportion of players not much in the way of betting options.