When Did NFL Betting Become Legal? A Bettor’s Guide

For decades, the subject of sports betting in the U.S. remained a controversial one. While many have been placing wagers on their favorite teams in secretive manners, the actual legalization of this activity took time. So, when did NFL betting become legal? Let’s dive deep into the timeline.

The Pre-2018 Era: A Time of Restrictions

Long before 2018, sports betting, including on NFL games, was largely illegal across the United States, except in a few places like Nevada. The major impediment to legal sports betting was the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. This federal law effectively prohibited states from legalizing sports betting.

The Turning Point: 2018

Everything changed in May 2018. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA, ruling it unconstitutional. This landmark decision gave individual states the autonomy to decide whether they wanted to legalize sports betting, including wagers on the NFL.

In the wake of this ruling, several states jumped on the opportunity to legalize sports betting, seeing it as a lucrative revenue stream. New Jersey, which had been at the forefront of challenging PASPA, quickly rolled out legal sports betting. Many states followed suit, each with its regulations and frameworks.

The NFL’s Response

Historically, the NFL was against sports betting, fearing it might undermine the integrity of the games. However, after the 2018 Supreme Court decision, the league began to warm up to the idea.

Recognizing the potential for fan engagement and revenue, the NFL started forming partnerships with betting operators. Fast forward to the present, and there are official betting partnerships in place, and even sportsbooks inside NFL stadiums.

Current State of NFL Betting

As of now, over half of the U.S. states have legalized sports betting in some form. Some have both online and retail options, while others restrict it to physical sportsbooks. The landscape is continuously evolving, with more states moving towards legalization and existing ones refining their regulations.

For bettors, this means a broader range of legal options to wager on their favorite NFL teams. However, it’s essential to be aware of your state’s specific regulations and always bet responsibly.


Answering the question, “when did NFL betting become legal?” – it was a significant moment in 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA. This decision opened the doors for states to decide their stance on sports betting, leading to an era of expanded legal betting options for NFL fans. As a bettor, staying informed and betting responsibly remains crucial, no matter the legal landscape.

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