Betting on sports and competitions is as old as society itself. Competition is natural and dates back to the beginning of human existence, and part of that competition is to determine the person most proficient in that activity. Wagering something – even if only pride – is an almost instinctive reaction to the contests.
Many people feel that wagering on sports is more than simply hoping for a particular outcome, as the study of teams and players requires some skill and can help bettors make more educated decisions. It also adds to the excitement of that sporting event, as people can cheer for their team as well as themselves. When people have something on the line to gain, usually financial, their interest in the game increases exponentially.
Betting in the United States has gone from street corners to telephones to the internet. What was once the process of giving money to a bookie turned into phoning a bet to a bookie, and that has now transformed into the easiest and most secure method in betting history – placing a bet online with a reputable betting site.
That transformation has elicited hundreds of sites around the globe that offer betting opportunities, but choosing the proper site – one that is licensed and safe, transparent and reliable – is just as important as the bet itself. This site wades through the weeds to suggest the best options for US bettors.
Brief History of US Sports Betting Sites
Betting in America dates back to the immigrants from Europe, who were prone to taking risks by the very nature of their travels to new lands. Betting on games and sports became so prominent in the US that some people took it upon themselves to serve as bookmakers. They took the responsibility of setting lines on games, paying off the winners, and profiting from the losers. However, there was little accountability, as bookmaking was not a legal business, so those who were treated unfairly had little recourse.
Congress passed the 1961 Federal Wire Act to prevent illegal bookmaking at a time when bookies were operating primarily through telephone contact. The Wire Act banned using wire communications to bet or wager on any sporting event or contest. While that did little to curb the betting business, it did make it more difficult. Underground betting was even less reliable.
In the 1990s, computer programmers took to offering rudimentary games on the internet. Eventually, those games were improved enough to allow people in various locations to compete against each other and do so for real money. And in January of 1996, the very first real-money online sports bet was recorded at Intertops. A site based in Australia popped up soon after, and more websites sprouted from countries everywhere. Many of the sites were licensed and run by reputable operators, making sports betting easy, secure, and entertaining.
That began to come to an end in the US in 2006 when the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act went into effect. Though the wording was ambiguous, it paved the way for the government to push online betting operators out of the US market. And when the US Department of Justice cracked down on the largest poker operators in 2011, most companies exited the American market out of fear.
However, some sports betting sites remained available to American players. They are not based in the US but do possess proper licensing and have shown their reliability through decades in the industry.
Online Betting Choices
Players are right to be selective in their search for the proper betting sites. With so many choices in the world, it is not only difficult to find operators who still cater to US players but also to ensure that they can be trusted with real-money betting.
Integrity is the number one feature that players require in a betting site. Not only is it vital that the odds are correct, payouts must be handled responsibly and in a timely manner. And this is what reputable betting operators do best. They remove the distrust factor that plagued bookmaking for centuries and replace it with accountability.
Even so, bettors want choices. They want to be able to bet on a range of sports and even non-sporting activities like elections and reality-based television show outcomes. They want to watch games and races online upon which their bets ride. And they want to be able to deposit and withdraw funds quickly and safely as a person would at a casino.
With all of that in mind, our recommended sites are broken down by category, each one determined by bettors to be important in their decision-making process.
- Bonuses and promotions
- Deposit and withdrawal options
- Licensing with trusted regulators
- Customer service
- Access for PC and Mac users, mobile customers
- All major sports and activities available for betting
In addition to our recommended sites, we also offer a number of sports specific guides:
- NFL Betting Sites
- Superbowl Betting Sites
- NHL Betting Sites
- UFC Betting Sites
- NBA Betting Sites
- MLB Betting Sites
- Horse Betting Sites
- Triple Crown Betting
- Kentucky Derby Betting
Legal Status and Licensing
All of the sites recommended by US Gambling Sites are properly licensed with an online gambling regulator. This means that the betting operators applied for a license and submitted to all necessary auditing of software, games, odds, transactions, and internal business documents. Licensing through a trusted regulator also requires ongoing audits on a regular basis to remain compliant with industry standards and maintain proper licensing.
In May 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey, which brought a case regarding sports betting. The court decided that the federal law had been unconstitutional, and every state in America should be able to enact their own sports betting laws. As that happens, states will not only have the option to offer sports betting in their land-based casinos, there will be online sports betting as well. The sites will be well-regulated but limited to the states under which they are established.
Sports Bettor Preferences
Online sports bettors have choices in the betting world, and they also have numerous factors to consider when making their selections. Those factors should include:
- Mobile compatibility
- Customer service availability and response time
- Reliable odds
- Options and fees for deposits and withdrawals
- Accurate payouts
- Clarity and transparency of bonuses and promotions
- Player loyalty programs
- Coverage of all sports
- Live betting options
Check out our site information and recommendations for US betting sites to find your favorite.