You are here Home » Featured » Where Sports Betting is Legal

Where Sports Betting is Legal


Sports betting can be traced back to ancient Greece when they introduced the Olympic Games more than two thousand years ago. Ancient Greeks used to bet on the games, and the practice later spread to the Roman Empire during their gladiatorial games. Sports betting legalization dates to the 19th century, with Australia being the first country to legalize horse race betting in 1810. More recently, with the advent of technology, sports betting has gained global popularity, and it’s estimated to reach a market value of $140 billion by 2028. The industry has experienced this exponential growth since most casinos offering sports betting provide users with enticing offers. For instance, the no deposit bonus codes in Australia allow users to get bonuses from sportsbooks by registering.

In this article, we will look at the top countries that have embraced and entrenched sports betting in their cultures, therefore making it legal. Due to the ethical and moral questions associated with sports betting, countries look at various parameters when legalizing it.

They include:

  • Legal age of participants, i.e.,18 or 21 years, depending on the country.
  • Sports betting firms should operate with licenses recognized globally.
  • Sports betting firms should comply with the countries’ tax laws they are domiciled in.
  • Promotion of responsible gambling by the betting firms.

So, would you wish to know which countries have legalized sports betting? Stay with me.

The United States of America

With the state of Nevada being home to ‘the entertainment capital of the world,’ Las Vegas, the USA, tops our list of countries where sports betting is legal. Casual sports betting in the USA gained popularity in 1876 due to the rise in the calibre of professional baseball. In 1931 Nevada became the first state to legalize sports betting in the physical casinos of Las Vegas. Since then, the sports betting industry has grown to today’s industry where users no longer need to visit physical casinos but can do so with online bookmakers. As of 2018, the betting market of the US was valued at $79 billion.

In that same year, May 2018, the sports betting industry in the US got a major boost that allowed it to spread all over the country. The state of New Jersey won a case against a ban on sports betting by the federal government. The supreme court ruled that all states could legalize sports betting as they saw fit. This victory saw nearly all states in the US legalize sports betting except for Utah. However, it is important to note that betting laws differ across state lines. For instance, Delaware allows for in-person sportsbooks but restricts online betting, whereas New Jersey accepts both in-person and online sports betting.

The United Kingdom

Casual sports betting in the UK date back to the 17th century when horse race bets were a preserve of the aristocracy. Later, Charles II put an end to the monopolization of betting by popularizing it to the populace, and it gained notoriety mostly in Ireland. The first act of legalization happened in 1931 when the Irish free state, modern-day Ireland, passed laws guiding bookmakers. Consequently, other laws have been passed, and in 2005 new laws were passed that saw the establishment of the UK Gambling Commission that regulates all forms of sports betting.

The sports betting industry in the UK is valued at 204 million pounds. Key among the driving factors of this industry is that the UK has the most popular football league globally, and it is estimated that about 32% of the UK population engages in sports betting weekly. The UK also boasts of housing over 9,000 betting shops, with the most popular ones owned by William Hill, Betfred, and Ladbrokes Coral.

Additionally, the UK has the most online sports betting sites, notable among them are:

  • Unibet
  • Betway
  • Netbet
  • BetVictor
  • Bet365
  • Smarkets
  • Boylesports


Australia holds the record as the first country to legalize gambling. This happened at a horse race organized in Hyde Park in 1810. Other forms of sports betting were legalized in 1980. Currently, Australia ranks among the top countries with the highest number of people involved in sports betting. Over 75% of adults in Australia have engaged in sports betting activities at one point in their lives. It is also among the leading countries in well-developed sports betting markets, and its companies have started setting shop in other countries across the globe.

According to a report by The Australian Gambling Statistics (AGS), the sports betting industry in the country gained slightly over $20 billion in profits as of 2020. With the legal betting age set at 18 years, it is estimated that over 6 million Aussies engage in sports betting regularly. Since 1980, Australia has seen an upsurge in the online sports betting platforms because the only restriction they face is the number of ads on their websites.

The dominant online sportsbooks in Australia include:

  • Betstar
  • Neds
  • Playup
  • Winnersbet
  • Palmerbet
  • Bluebet
  • Draftstars


The first sports betting legislation in Canada was passed in 1867, and 25 years later, it was amended to allow horse race betting exclusively. This law persisted up to 1969 when other forms of betting, mainly lotteries, were introduced. In 1985 the government realized the potential in the sports betting industries and changed the law to allow for sports betting in the lottery format. Online sports betting sites first emerged in Canada in 1990, which eventually led to Sports Interaction, the biggest online sports betting company in Canada. Presently, Canada is big on online sports betting and has few physical bookmakers.

The legal gambling age for Canadians is 18 years. Annually, the sports betting industry in the country makes about 18 million Canadian dollars, with an estimated 60% of the adult population being involved in betting.

Bottom Line

Despite the negative notions associated with sports betting, such as compulsive gambling, It is clear that people will always bet for as long as sports are played. The huge revenue related to sports betting types cement that its legalization is the way to go in the future. What’s more, even in countries where sports betting is illegal, punters can bet on online sportsbooks in countries where betting is legal. With the current trends in the industry, it is safe to assume that more countries will legalize and entrench sports betting in their cultures.

You may also like