Sports Betting Laws In The United States

The sports betting laws in the United States are often convoluted and misleading, causing a great of confusion amongst those that want to bet on sports. If you have not personally bet on sports yourself, chances are you know someone who has. Most sports enthusiasts in the U.S. start out using online sportsbooks due to limited land-based options, but then continue using sports betting sites because of the benefits and profitability. Those that do not use online sportsbooks typically shy away because of concerns of legality. Once you are familiar with the laws on sports betting in US, you will learn that there are plenty of safe and legal sports betting options on the internet.

The sports betting laws in the USA are broken into two categories – state and federal. As you continue reading, you will find that the sports betting industry in the United States is mostly governed on a federal-level rather than by each state independently. Determining the sports betting age is the one aspect that IS decided by your state, and you should always verify the legal age to bet on sports with your local gaming commission.

PAPSA – The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act

When it comes to sports betting laws, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) is the most widely known. PASPA is the federal law that outlaws land-based sports betting in the United States. The only states exempted from PASPA were those that had forms of legal sports betting prior to the close of the one-year window following the January 3rd, 1993 effective date of the law. The four states that are legally permitted to offer sports betting are Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. Delaware has authorized NFL parlays, while Nevada is the only state that permits single-game wagering on a variety of sports. Oregon and Montana have banned sports betting even with their exemption.

UIGEA – Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) was written to deter U.S. financial institutions from processing payments related to internet gambling. Included in the SAFE Port Act 2006, the UIGEA is a provision that requires banks and other payment processors to monitor designated payment systems such as cards, checks, and bank wires for “restricted transactions”. While the UIGEA will make it more difficult when using your Visa or MasterCard to make a deposit at an online sportsbook, there are certain sites that have higher success rates than others. Like most federal sports betting laws, the UIGEA only applies to businesses and not the individuals placing bets.

The Wire Act And Sports Betting – What The Wire Act Means Today

The federal Wire Act of 1961 is a federal law that makes it illegal to use wire communications to accept sports bets or transmit information related to sporting events. At the point of its enactment by then-President John F. Kennedy, the term “wire communication” only included the telegraphs and telephones that the criminal underworld would use to conduct their racketeering schemes. The Wire Act is now interpreted to include sports bets placed over the internet, however the law only implicates those in the business of wagering. Being that only operators are targeted by the law, casual bettors are not in violation when using an offshore sportsbook. Read more about the federal wire act on wikipedia.

The Game Act Of 2017 – Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement (Not Passed Yet)

Representative Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) recently introduced the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement (GAME) Act to as a discussion draft to Congress. The GAME Act puts the power of sports betting regulation into the hands of state governments, which many would agree is already a constitutional right. The Act would allow states to tax gaming revenues, which the U.S. is losing billions on to offshore sports betting sites. States would also be able to decide on whether or not to offer online poker, casino gaming, horse betting, lottery, and daily fantasy sports.

The DFS provisions in the GAME Act have already been pointed out as a possible point of contention. The DFS industry has been adamant about not putting themselves in the same category as gambling due to the additional legal hurdles that such a designation entails. This is a fair assessment considering how difficult it is to pass sports betting laws in the states. It is possible that the fantasy language will be removed from the GAME Act once it starts to gain traction.

Sports Betting Laws By State

While the majority of states rely solely on the sports betting framework set by the federal government, there are some states with their own sports betting laws. These laws are only applicable on a statewide level rather than impacting the entire nation as federal regulations do. Being that land-based sports betting is addressed by PASPA, states such as Utah, Washington, and Louisiana have created laws specific to using the internet to place bets. Unfortunately, in these states it is illegal to bet on sports online. Luckily, there are no other states that penalize casual bettors for using the internet to bet on sports. With the absence of laws to indicate otherwise, offshore sportsbooks are safe to use for legal sports betting.

Sports Betting Laws Trying To Be Passed By Different States

Though historically states have not been active in creating sports betting laws, it seems this is starting to change. With the state of New Jersey in the midst of a five-year battle to bring legalized sports betting to its borders, other states have started to follow suit. NJ is currently awaiting to have their appeal heard by the U.S. Supreme Court after receiving unfavorable rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit regarding the unconstitutionality of PASPA. Other states have decided to be proactive by introducing bills that would permit sports betting regulation should the Court decide to repeal or amend PASPA. These states include