Sports betting is rapidly making its way across the US. new states are authorizing online and retail sportsbooks at a swift clip, making it easy to find online betting sites in more than two dozen US markets. 

The speed with which the industry is growing is largely a good thing. It means more betting options, more ways to get invested in the sports and teams you love, and convenience platforms allowing you to place bets on the go. 

On the other hand, sports betting expansion can get really confusing, especially as state legislatures go through the myriad steps required to actually launch online sportsbooks. 

Fortunately, we’re here to help you make sense of the confusing process. If you’re in or near a state that’s on its way to legalized sports betting, here are a few key steps in the process to look for. 


This is the first big step toward legal sportsbooks, as you might have imagined. Before they can launch, sportsbooks need to be fully legal in a given state. 

Oftentimes, sports betting dreams begin or end here. For example, California sports betting failed pretty badly in the November 2022 referendum. 

Other states have succeeded in pushing legislation through, creating markets that are friendly to sports betting operators. This is a tricky part of the process, because every state is different. California—to continue using that example—had a contentious legal battle between state tribes and commercial operators, each of whom wanted to control most of sports betting and thus earn most of the revenue it would generate. 

Some states, however, succeed in breaking through and converting sports betting bills into law. Once the laws are codified, states then move to the next step, which is often one of the longest. 


With sports betting now legal, you’d think all that’s left is to launch legal online sportsbooks, right? 

Not so simple. In fact, legalization is just the first step in an often years-long process. Regulation comes next. Typically, this involves an overseeing organization that governs a state’s gambling industry. Sometimes it’s the state lottery. Other times it’s a Gaming Control organization. In tandem with potential operators, legislators, tribes, and other stakeholders, these organizations set the rules that will govern sports betting in a state. This includes ensuring they structure the industry around existing laws, put safeguards in place to protect bettors, and promote responsible gambling. This step also includes setting the amount of licenses a state will give out, and how those licenses might be structured. Will a state require sportsbooks to partner with a casino in the state? Or can they operate solely online? These sorts of questions are tackled in the regulation phase. 

When regulations are in place and confirmed, the real fun begins.  

Licensing & Approval

After legislation and regulation, licensing begins. The process looks different in every state. 

Some markets require a sportsbook to partner with a land-based casino or race track. Others allow full online licenses. 

Getting a license takes time and money. Often, license fees can cost in the millions of dollars, depending on the state. Smaller states may charge less, but will usually have recurring fees every few years. 

To get a license, a sportsbook has to meet or exceed all of a state’s requirements and regulations. It must also maintain those standards as it operates, lest it risk losing its license. 

Once licensed, a sportsbook can launch on or after the date set by the state’s regulators or Gaming Control board. Usually, there’s a small window of time between approval and launch, which is when bonuses start to become available. 

Pre-Launch & Promotions

This is the time when sportsbooks start the massive marketing push. They’ll offer special sports betting promo codes that give users access to second-chance bets, deposit bonuses, and other deals. 

For example, Ohio is in the midst of planning for its sports betting launch. There’s already a Caesars Sportsbook Ohio promo code for Buckeye State betters eager to get in on the action. 

During this stage of the sports betting launch process, you can get ready for a full-fledged launch. Download the apps (iOS and Android apps are available), bookmark the desktop sites, sign up for an account, and add your favorite deposit methods. 

Legal & Live

This one isn’t so much a “step” as it is a status. After legislation, regulation, licensing, and the pre-launch phase, sportsbooks go live in the state. At this point, sports betting is fully legal, and new sportsbooks might launch over the course of the weeks, months, or years that follow. 

Even if you miss out on special pre-launch deals, you can still get welcome bonuses from sportsbooks after launch. You can also get in on rotation promotions they offer to existing users, such as profit boosts, parlay insurance, and other bonuses. 

Remember to stay safe and responsible with your betting!