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Before a relaxation on sports gambling laws in 2018, the landscape for people who wanted to bet on any sport was a confusing mess. Since that change, the landscape is still confusing, as the relaxation was a federal decision, and states are still empowered to make their own laws when it comes to betting on sports. In addition to that, it’s to be acknowledged that horse racing is treated differently from other sports when it comes to betting laws, so if you want to bet on - for example - the Kentucky Derby, you’ll have a complicated few minutes while you find out what those laws are in your state.
Acknowledging this confusion, and in the hope of clarifying the detail for anyone already grappling with questions such as "what is a parlay?" and "is PayPal used at betting sites?", we’re going to have a rundown of the states where you can, definitively, have a bet online on a horse race, along with some information on the states with an outright ban. So, without further ado…
In fact, it is because New Jersey took action to legalize online betting in 2013 that we had the Supreme Court case that liberalized the law for all of America. In fact, given that Nevada does most of its business in its land-based casinos, NJ is the most active online betting state.
Michiganders were among the first to adopt online horse betting after the ruling of 2018, legalizing sports betting statewide, and there is now a thriving online sportsbook sector in the state.
Even allowing for the existing presence of numerous real casinos, Indiana has also embraced the surge in online betting in the wake of the court ruling. It legalized online sports betting, horses included, in 2019.
Given its location in the area close to NJ and New York, Pennsylvania would have been hard-pushed to hold out, and it began its own moves to legalize horse racing betting in 2017. Today, you can bet on a horse race in a Pennsylvanian casino or online.
At present, New Yorkers cannot bet on horse racing on the same platforms as other sports. They can, however, bet on it, and that’s all we’re asking here. New York has become one of the most interesting states with regard to betting legislation, as its lawmakers have discussed developing and refining their recently-made laws to make them more intuitive. The law mentioned above is set to be one of the first to be scratched.
If you were next to Nevada, you’d legalize betting once you were told you could, wouldn’t you? That’s what California did in 2018. A huge market with active sporting infrastructure, it was a no-brainer for the state to legalize horse betting online, and that’s what they’ve done.
As one of the smallest states on this list, WV is also one of the more interesting. Not only can you bet on horse racing and other sports in this state, it’s also an area of focus for new betting companies to trial their software and gaming platforms before scaling it up for larger markets. As a result, Mountain State bettors often have new gaming innovations before others.
As for that list of states with a ban, you’re out of luck if you live in Tennessee, Arizona, Texas and Nevada. Yes, Nevada. As a state with no horse racing infrastructure, it has no interest in legalizing online betting to compete with its casinos. So if you want to bet on horse races online, maybe move to California?
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