Nevada’s synonymous with gambling, but New Jersey’s on track to dominate sports betting

What happens in Vegas generally stays in Vegas, but the past year revealed a notable exception: online sports betting.

New Jersey surpassed Nevada’s online sports betting handle every month between June 2020 and May 2021, according to New Jersey’s handle in May 2021 came to $814 million compared with Nevada’s $477 million—a difference of more than $300 million.

That’s no small feat considering Nevada had a big head start. Beginning in 1992, single-game sports wagering was confined exclusively to the Silver State by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a federal law also known as PASPA.

PASPA set out to define the legal status of sports wagering nationwide. In practice, it effectively outlawed the practice entirely with a few state exceptions—the most lenient of which were in Nevada.

But a 6-3 Supreme Court decision in 2018 deemed PASPA unconstitutional for disallowing states from enjoying the privilege of legal gambling on sports. The ruling opened the door for new opportunities.

Wasting no time, several states joined in on the sports betting bonanza. Within the first year after PASPA was overturned, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Arkansas and New Jersey all hopped on board. While some states allow only in-person betting, more than two dozen have legalized some form of sports wagering.

The rush to embrace sports gambling shook up one state in particular. “I think New Jersey is the new king,” said Darren Rovell, senior executive producer for The Action Network. “Nevada still has in-person sign-up if you want to sign up for a mobile sportsbook. Jersey has, I think, 26 online sportsbooks that you can sign up for by yourself.” 

States With Legalized, Operational Sports Betting











New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina



Rhode Island



Washington, D.C.

West Virginia