Is Sports Betting Legal In The United States?

Betting on sports in the United States is as American as Apple Pie, though there are many who frown upon gambling in general and even more who do not know what is and is not legal. Most of the time, wagers are placed on the big game amongst small groups of friends watching from home or perhaps while out watching from the local sports bar. What is clear is that no matter what your view on the matter is, the act of betting on “who will win” is prevalent and has been with human culture since the first cave man boasted of throwing a spear farther than his friend. The legality of this act, outside of the shining lights of Las Vegas, is difficult for some to grasp and many are unsure whether or not they can legally bet on their favorite players and teams. This page will help you understand the legalities of sports betting in The United States Of America from our point of view.

Is Sports Betting Legal In The Unites States? - The Real Short Version

Is Land Based Sports Betting legal? - The unfortunate truth is that land based sports betting is illegal in The United States with the exception of a few places. Right now, the only states with legal sports betting are Nevada and Delaware. There are a few other states that could have legal sports betting if they wanted to, but they either chose not to or something else stopped it from happening.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal? - Bottom line is that online sports betting is legal in the USA and you have no need to worry about going to jail or being arrested. The reason sports betting is legal in the United States is because online sportsbooks are located offshore and they do not fall under US laws, they fall under the laws of the country where they are licensed. All of the sportsbooks that we list are huge companies located offshore and they are considered to be some of the best sportsbooks anywhere in the world.

The problems arise when you start betting at some rinky dink site that some dude you know that lives down the road owns.

Federal Sports Betting Laws - Is Sports Betting Legal On A Federal Level?

There are many laws enacted by our federal government which affect sports betting throughout the United States and none are as decisive and all-encompassing as the Federal Wire Act of 1961 and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. Upon their passage, these laws essentially erased most abilities to wager on sports or any other contests by removing the venues in which bets were facilitated. No one, outside from a few exceptions, may facilitate sports wagers and bets in order to turn a profit. These laws were made for the specific reasons to target and eliminate organized crime, corruption and racketeering as many criminal elements used gambling operations to fund criminal activities at the time.

Thankfully, lawmakers could see an obvious difference between powerful criminals raking in millions of dollars and someone wanting to bet $20 with their father on who would win the Super Bowl. Only the act of facilitating bets for profit is illegal and not the actual act of placing a bet. Thus, nowhere is it written in these laws that any citizen is not allowed to wager on a sporting event or any other contest, leaving the casual and recreational bettors of the nation to continue on normally with their habits.

When these laws initially passed, namely PASPA in 1992, it defined the legal status of sports betting throughout the nation in a clear manner. The law was proposed and passed after then NBA Commissioner David Stern brought up his fears of rampant corruption in sports betting as Congress sided with his beliefs in finding that it was a national concern which inflicted harm beyond any state’s borders which sanctioned it. With the specific language of the law, it primarily forbids any commercial or public entity from condoning or facilitating bets on sports while largely leaving an individual and casual bettor alone in their privacy to wager on a football game. There are four states which were left exempt from PASPA as the facilitation of sports bets are not entirely gone, such as in Las Vegas.

The Difference between Facilitating Sports Bets and Making Sports Bets

The differences between the business of facilitating bets to make a profit and then the simple act of placing one are incredibly vast. The facilitation of bets is highly illegal and will result in a felony charge with steep fines and prison time whereas the act of placing a bet will result in absolutely nothing as far as the federal government is concerned. Although certain states may impose their own regulations for sports betting and gambling in general, there is absolutely no law within federal legislation that says the act of placing a bet is illegal, criminal, or punishable in any way shape or form.

For example, if one is hosting a Super Bowl party at his or her house and wagers amongst a group of friends on which team will win the game, and his/her guests accept the bet, there has been no crime committed as there is no cut (juice) being taken by the host. If, however, the party's host collects a percentage of all wagers made by his/her attendees from the entire Super Bowl party and then a crime has been committed. This host has now engaged in the business of gambling and is no longer a recreational bettor. Furthermore, the act of bookmaking is also illegal in regards to sports betting, so the host would also stand to be punished if he/she were to write out betting lines and odds for the guests to determine what their bet may payout. This is a way to entice betting and a means for bookmakers to generate a profit for themselves. Again, this would result in a felony under the current federal laws in place. Taking bets is illegal. Placing bets is not.

Is Land Based Sports Betting Legal in the United States? Which States?

If a U.S. resident wishes to place a bet on a sporting event, he or she will have a difficult time in finding a venue to do so unless it is within the privacy of their own home among friends and family. PASPA and the Federal Wire Act have all but erased the facilities that normally would have facilitated such bets. However, there were exemptions provided in the legislation of PASPA which allowed Nevada to continue on completely immune from the law along with partial immunity for the states of Oregon, Montana and Delaware. Only Nevada and Delaware have some form of sports betting available to citizens and visitors alike while Nevada is the one and only true venue to facilitate any bets on a sporting event anywhere in the United States. If one were to place a bet anywhere else in the country on a sporting event with a bookmaker, they will undoubtedly be dealing with a felon or criminal and throwing their money away.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal for U.S. Residents

While the Federal Wire Act and PASPA have done a number on sports betting across the country on land, the laws have also removed any bet facilitators from the internet as well. Nowhere on American soil is it legal to run an online sportsbook unless one is in Nevada and using a state licensed online sportsbook. The only state the has the ability to have state regulated sportsbooks is Nevada. However, that does not mean that players can not bet at a sportsbook that is located offshore. The only way you would be breaking the law is if you own an online sportsbook or if you bet at a smalltime sportsbook that is run by someone operating in the USA. But to be honest, the bettors never ever get arrested, just the owners of the sportsbook because they are the ones taking the bets.

The federal laws are unable to prohibit and govern an online sportsbook which is located outside of U.S. jurisdiction. If we know that it is perfectly legal for any citizen to place a bet, then they only need discover a website that is legally outside of American law to facilitate their bets. There are a vast number of online sportsbooks which are scattered throughout Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and South and Central America, all in legal operation under their own host nation’s online gambling laws. Many of these sites are held in high regards and are frequently used by American citizens safely, legally and securely as many of them are even intended for American users who are aware of their abilities to bet online. For example, we list the best US sportsbooks, all of which are located offshore and licensed and regulated in their respective countries.

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One of the best online sportsbooks that are legal for USA players is found at Bovada. Having been in business for decades, Bovada actually began its existence as an American company before having to move to Canada due to changing federal legislation. They are specific in catering to American bettors and have one of the most, if not the most, advanced online sportsbooks in the industry. Bovada offers every style of wager and bet imaginable as members can bet player or team props, futures and even engage the site’s innovative live betting platform to get in on the action while a game is being played in real time. Every major American sport is available as well as every international sport so no league or player goes unnoticed by Bovada in its constantly updated lines and odds.

This online sportsbook also comes highly recommended and endorsed by major U.S. publications such as USA Today and CBS Sports and even has its odds used for reporting by sports juggernaut, ESPN. Bovada also offers some of the most generous perks and bonuses in the online sports betting community where new members are able to collect a 50% increase on their first deposit worth up to $250 of free betting money to cover any sport or event that they wish. Signing up and depositing money is easy and can have American bettors in the action in under 5 minutes. We rank our #1 online sportsbook for American users all across the country, hands down.

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