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online sports betting laws
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п»їSports Betting Laws In The United States.
As explained under the PASPA section, state sports betting laws in the United States are set on the state level. This can cause very different industries offered despite states being neighbors to each other. For example, bettors in Rhode Island can begin wagering at 18, while those in New Jersey must be 21 to get started. Likewise, bettors in Iowa are not permitted to wager on prop bets involving collegiate athletes, while a state like Oregon allows for betting on any collegiate sport, depending on which sportsbook in the state you use. Finding out these differences can be a challenge but we have designed this entire page for your benefit. Use them as your reference but as always, consult a legal professional about your current situation if you are unsure.
One major thing to understand is that, while some restrictions are placed on the sportsbooks (for example, Iowa’s rules against prop betting), some restrictions are placed on you (for example, legal gambling age). The restrictions that are placed on the sportsbooks can be resolved by using a sportsbook outside of the US, but the restrictions that are placed on you cannot be resolved. Using those examples, if you wanted to bet on college prop bets in Iowa, you could use a sportsbook located outside of the US, that was not subject to those restrictions. However, if you wanted to bet before you turned 21 in New Jersey, you cannot do that regardless of where the sportsbook you are using is located.
Legal Sports Betting Across The Nation.
As of 2021, there are 19 states in the country that have launched some form of state-sanctioned legal sports betting. In addition, six more have approved it, but the infrastructure isn’t set up yet. Washington D.C. has also approved and set up sports betting, but it is not a state. More states are in the process of trying to legalize industries of their own since PASPA was overturned in 2018. But, with or without a legal sportsbook presence in any state in the nation, gambling on sporting events is still legal. How? With the use of offshore internet sportsbooks. These sports betting sites have been in business for decades and are available nationwide for a safe, legal, and regulated sports betting option for the people of the United States. Regardless of where a state lies on the issue of wagering on sports matchups, these platforms will always be legal for sports bettors to use for gambling on sports.
Legal Sports Betting Age In The United States.
No matter what state you live in, you must adhere to the legal sports betting age in the United States. While most people think this is generally set at 21, they would be incorrect. Most states do permit players to enter casinos and other gambling establishments at age 21 to bet on sports, but there are a handful of states that allow players as young as 18 to gamble. It doesn’t matter whether the sports bettor is using a mobile device or visiting the land-based facility, the sportsbook age is set by the state.
This includes when players use offshore betting sites for their gambling needs. Nearly every sportsbook will allow those who are 18 to sign up and begin wagering at their sites but it is up to the player to determine their own legality. If one is betting on horses, they would legally be permitted to wager at 18, however, those who are attempting to bet on sports should wait until they are following the local laws. Despite being able to wager, those who are 21 and caught underage sports betting will have their account terminated and potentially may have their winnings confiscated as well.
How Old Do I Need To Be To Play NCAA Tournament Bracket Games For Cash?
Playing bracket games or Super Bowl squares may come off as gambling and, in a technical sense, it is. For those playing for smaller prize pools and are entertaining a group of friends, it is unlikely that anything will happen to you when setting up and playing these types of games. Nobody’s going to call the feds on your office pool. Even if large prize pools are involved, the state can determine the game to be considered gambling. However, in most cases, these setups are considered social gambling, where states may limit how much a buy-in or how much the total winner can collect from the game.
The basic rule is that as long as the house isn’t taking a cut, there should be no issues when looking to play NCAA tournament bracket games for cash. Similarly, there are plenty of online sportsbooks that offer NCAA tournament bracket games, and those sportsbooks are generally legal to use. When it comes to age, you’ll want to be above the legal gambling age in your state. If your state does not define that age, assume it to be 21. Most states do have a defined legal gambling age, however, and it is usually either 18 or 21. If you’re older than 21, you’re good - just make sure you’re obeying the law.
Federal Wire Act And The Effect It Has On Internet Sports Gambling.
The Federal Wire Act was put into law in 1961 and is one of the biggest issues in the sports betting industry today. As the law was established in the 1960s, it is quite outdated, yet the US government still uses it to crack down on gambling establishments. In short, this law prevents sportsbooks from accepting a wager from those who are not physically located within the state – and this includes the use of mobile betting.
States that have approved mobile sports betting will geolocate a user’s phone before accepting their wager and there is literally zero way around this law. The Wire Act does not target the gambler, so those who are attempting to wager from outside of state lines should not worry, but instead, it focuses on the sportsbook itself. This law was established to prevent mobsters and underground sports betting operations from hiding their money and transferring it across state lines. While this is not the issue that the law control today, it still holds true and may inhibit your ability to bet on sports. As for the offshore betting sites, this US law has zero jurisdiction over the overseas sportsbooks, so they will accept bettors from anywhere within the US.
Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
Perhaps the most important law in the sports betting world, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) seemed like the end of the gambling industry in the country. This law (in order to protect the integrity of professional and collegiate sports) made it that states could not offer a state-operated sports betting industry. States like Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana were exempt from this law, as they already had sports betting laws on their books and were grandfathered in. However, as Nevada was the only state that accepted single-game wagering and not a parlay style game, it quickly became the sports betting monopoly it is known for.
Now that PASPA has been repealed (May 2018), states have the right to facilitate their own sports betting laws and regulate their own industry how they see fit. With PASPA gone, many states were quick to legalize sports betting and a handful more are researching the best methods to bring the industry into a tax contributing necessity. This law being repealed is the only reason why the sports betting market has continued to grow immensely since 2018.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) may seem like a law that prevents sports betting from happening but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Designed to scare bettors, this law worked for many years until sports bettors realized just exactly what the law entailed. Despite the strong wording in its name, UIGEA only prevents US banks from knowingly processing payments to offshore gambling sites. This includes sports betting sites as well as horse racing betting sites and even online casinos.
UIGEA may be a deterrent for sports bettors but there are many ways around it. To know if you have been a victim of UIGEA is quite easy, as your credit card will be declined when you attempt to deposit with one of our recommended sites. Don’t worry, your card will still be operational and nobody will be coming knocking on your door. Instead, call up the desired sportsbook and they will explain their various deposit (and withdrawal) methods that are welcomed without a bank being the middle man. Methods like Bitcoin, Money Orders, and other possibilities exist, as the sportsbook and the gambler can make their connection and get you, the sports bettor, started.
State Sports Betting Laws In The United States.
As explained under the PASPA section, state sports betting laws in the United States are set on the state level. This can cause for very different industries offered despite states being neighbors to each other. For example, bettors in Rhode Island can begin wagering at 18, while those in New Jersey must be 21 to get started. Likewise, bettors in Iowa are not permitted to wager on prop bets involving collegiate athletes, while a state like Oregon allows for betting on any collegiate sport, depending on which sportsbook in the state you use. Finding out these differences can be a challenge but we have designed this entire page for your benefit. Use them as your reference but as always, consult a legal professional about your current situation if you are unsure.


Legal Sports Betting Is Bigger than Ever -- But COVID Could Hurt Bets on the Big Game.
Sports betting is more popular, and legal, than ever, and one of biggest draws for bettors every year is wagering on the Big Game. But, like everything else right now, COVID-19 is having an impact on football betting this year.
In the video below, we'll take a closer look at why wagers on Sunday's game will likely be lower than usual, and how online sports betting -- fueled by companies like DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) -- are scratching an itch for those wanting to place bets during socially distant times.
Chris Neiger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Video: How these investors view the recent Big Tech bounce (CNBC)


Latest Online Gambling Laws in the US 2020.
The United States is known around the world as a land full of promises in which anything is possible if you work diligently. Maybe this is why people are surprised when they hear that online gambling is not legal in all the states country consists of. However, when the country officials realized that US citizens could easily gamble online by visiting any of the offshore sites, they started working on their own regulations for online gambling legislation.
In 2019, the online gambling situation started transforming rapidly. To get a clear picture, we will cover online gambling by dividing it into two parts: online casino gambling and sports betting. In recent years, the status of both has changed across the US. To find out more about it, please read along.
Online Casino Gambling in the US.
Online gambling in the US can indeed be very confusing. There is a federal law that covers the country as a whole, but apart from that, every state has the freedom to regulate online gaming as they consider it appropriate.
However, the fact is that no federal law prohibits online gambling. As a US citizen, you are legally allowed to place wagers online, but only if a site is not based on US soil. Considering the fact that offshore websites have no problem accepting punters from the US, there is nothing to worry about, as you will not get prosecuted for placing a bet online.
All this struggle to understand the legality of online gambling came from a wrong interpretation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. One part of the act mentions that it “… prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet, and that is unlawful under any federal or state law .”
Simply said, this has nothing to do with you as a punter. It prohibits financial institutions from accepting payments connected to illegal gambling, but it says nothing about depositing funds. However, financial institutions have found their way around this law with the appearance of e-wallets and similar inventions.
Considering the revenue that online gambling produces, some US states decided it is time to jump into online gambling stories with both feet. At the moment, online casinos operate in a few states, and it is most definite that others will follow up soon.
New Jersey.
New Jersey is one of a few states that ultimately accepted gambling and everything that goes along with it. Online casinos have been legal for quite some time and brought in revenue in billions. You can rest assured that playing any online casino game at New Jersey’s online gambling sites is completely legal. Even popular casino directory sites such as WorldCasinoDirectory have already begun listing online options for New Jersey Residents.
Michigan.
Michigan finally said yes to online gambling legislation when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4311 and approved the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. However, even though online gambling is officially legal according to law, online casinos are set to be launched next year. Michigan aims to make online versions of the existing brick-and-mortar casinos, which will take some time.
Delaware.
Another state that legally offers online gambling is Delaware. The only problem is that the revenue in this state is not matching up with the revenue generated by, for example, New Jersey, but it has been increasing slowly. Concerning a player’s perspective, you can choose any of the legal online casinos and enjoy your day off in peace.
Pennsylvania.
There is no doubt that online gambling is completely legal and operational in Pennsylvania. The state rejoined the field recently when it comes to online poker in Pennsylvania. PokerStars made it happen by getting a license under the Mount Airy Casino, thus putting a smile on the faces of Pennsylvania residents.
On top of that, mobile casino apps are available and widely used in the state; however, that’s not necessary, as online casinos designed their sites in a way that they automatically adjust to your mobile phone screen.
Nevada.
Nevada is like a gambling base for the US. Whatever you have imagined a casino should have, you will find it here. However, when it comes to online gambling, the only form of it allowed in Nevada is online poker in designated poker rooms. They do have a legal WSOP site, but other online casino games are forbidden.
New York.
In New York, the situation that deals with the question of whether or not online gambling is legal can be a bit ambiguous. Although lawmakers have found some legal gaps that can be used to legalize online casinos, no official decision has been made. However, as Pennsylvania legalized online gambling, New York will have to do so as well, in order not to lose enormous amounts of potential revenue to their neighbor.
Online Sports Betting in the US.
Legislation of sports betting in the US was a real pain in the neck for both operators and punters. At some point, people were confused about what they can and cannot do regarding betting at sports in the US.
Luckily, in May 2018, the Supreme Court ruled against PASPA, which represented the federal law meant to ban these wagers. As the federal law is no longer against online sports betting, it is up to every state to regulate the market within its borders. Some have already done so, and others are giving their best to make online sports betting possible for their residents.
New Jersey.
The best-known sports betting market in the US is New Jersey, where almost all types of online gambling are legal at the moment. The most prominent online sports betting operators in the state are DraftKings and SportsDuel Sportsbooks, the latter one offering the mobile app as well.
Michigan.
Michigan has legalized online sports betting at the end of 2019, but it hasn’t put it into practice just yet. If everything goes as planned, 2020 should be the year when everything will fall into place.
Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania came back to life when many popular operators landed there. Now you can choose the site where you would like to try your luck with online sports betting. Some of your best options would be DraftKings and SportsDuel Sportsbooks, followed by Unibet, Fox Bet, Parx, or BetRivers. The forerunner for online sports betting in Pennsylvania is SugarHouse Sportsbook, while the latest one to join the group is BetAmerica.
Nevada.
Nevada stands strong with what they do best. However, the process of entering the online sports betting goes through the land-based casinos. Namely, you need to open an account in person and deposit a minimum amount. Then, when you log in, your phone will use geolocation technology to make sure you are indeed in Nevada. Once all this is done, you can start betting online.
Indiana.
Another stated that jumped into online sports betting is Indiana. At first, the sportsbooks like BetRivers, DraftKings, and Fanduel gave Indiana a chance and cleared the path for more to come.
Fresh from 2019, Iowa followed the example of other states. The downside is that it looked up to Nevada and copied the rule of physical registration at a land-based casino.
West Virginia.
Online sports betting was present in West Virginia in 2018, with the help of the BetLucky mobile app. Unfortunately, the app got shut down and remained that way. Now online sports betting is back and works just fine.
Rhode Island.
Rhode Island is a state where online sports betting became a thing in 2019. The leading operator for sports betting in Rhode Island is William Hill, therefore, we can expect the launching of the app in the near future.
Mississippi.
Online sports betting is considered legal in Mississippi, but the circumstances under which it can be done are kind of strange. You can bet via your mobile phone, but only while you are physically present at the casino — the one that has adopted this option.
Oregon.
Oregon has accepted online sports betting and launched its sports betting option — the Scoreboard. This is the primary app for placing bets online, but if you don’t like it, feel free to look for other options.
New Hampshire.
As 2019 was a year of sports betting, New Hampshire decided to follow the herd. Again, DraftKings Sportsbook has a central role in developing this type of entertainment in the US state.
Illinois.
The rules in Illinois are similar to those in Nevada and Iowa. If you want to bet online, you need to sign up at brick-and-mortar casinos. Also, racetracks and off-track betting facilities are places where you can do it. Rumor has it that, in the future, you will be able to do everything online, and we expect to witness it in 2020.
Tennessee.
Last but not least, Tennessee is ready for online sports betting. They are set to develop it fully and offer many sites and apps for online sports betting throughout this year.


America’s Laws Against Gambling And Sports Betting.
When discussing legal online sports betting, the majority of America's government has a very regressive, prohibition-style attitude towards it, buying into a negative perspective concerning the morality of gambling entertainment. This is what has led to a variety of state gambling laws in the past.
There are no US federal laws that make it a crime for Americans to place bets at offshore sportsbooks that are operating legally within the industry. There are two states that legally prohibit all online gambling, domestic or offshore, leaving residents in Connecticut and Washington without legally sanctioned online betting options, though they have yet to start enforcing those restrictions.
For the most part, state lawmakers are becoming more progressive concerning betting entertainment and recognize the value that this type of revenue stream can bring to a state. Individual states are actively analyzing what the legalization of domestic sports gambling can provide them with in terms of opportunities, tourism, and tax revenue, and many have already taken action one way or the other through new legislation.
Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia currently permit state-regulated online sports gambling, with nearly two dozen additional states having launched land-based sportsbooks. Individual territories began embracing sports betting the moment that PASPA was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the infamous NJ case, with multiple states having had their legislation ready and waiting should the ruling go in the Garden State's favor.
Below we'll take a look at the relevant US federal gambling laws, and explain how state gambling laws intersect with federal laws to impact online and brick and mortar sportsbook gambling, as well as what these laws have to say about the legal status of offshore sports betting entertainment.
The Federal Laws on the Books.
The sections below will detail and explain how each major federal law affects domestic gambling opportunities in the US.
The Federal Wire Act.
Passed back in 1961, the Federal Wire Act was made law in an effort to curtail the illegal gambling activities taking place over the phone by organized crime syndicates. It prohibited the transmission of wagers or betting information from being carried across state lines via telegraph or telephone. The Federal Wire Act targeted these illegal bookie operations as a means to curb the mafia from manipulating games and making a profit through these tactics.
This law was strictly focused on interstate gambling, and only targeted those accepting bets and not the individuals placing the bets. The goal was to crack down on illegal gambling services, not prosecute bettors. Between the DOJ Legal Opinion of 2011 and the repeal of PASPA, today's application of the Wire Act prohibits any gambling business from accepting bets across state lines or from foreign sources.
With the changes still being implemented, we are not sure yet how this will affect those states that had entered into interstate gambling pacts with one another, sharing player pools for their online gambling initiatives. Once that aspect of the legal situation becomes more clear we will update that information here.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
Also known as the Bradley Act, or just PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was a sweeping federal regulation that passed in 1992, with the supposed intent of protecting the integrity of sports by making sports betting illegal.
At the time the bill was passed, there were sports lotteries in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon, as well as licensed and regulated sports betting in Nevada, so those four states were exempt.
The law effectively prevented the expansion of the sports betting market throughout the United States in what many categorized as a discriminatory law that favored a few states while restricting others.
New Jersey took on the mission of challenging the law and after several years of court battles, was given a favorable outcome by the highest court in the land as SCOTUS ruled PASPA as unconstitutional, nullifying the law.
As of May 14, 2018, each individual state now has the authority to dictate sports betting laws within their borders. They can now choose to authorize or prohibit sports betting at their pleasure. Following PASPA's repeal, we have seen multiple states move forward with legislation that legalizes sports gambling at the state level.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
This is the big one that shook the gambling industry to its core. Online gambling really started to explode during the early 2000's, especially in the realm of online poker. In 2006, then-President Bush signed into law the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, known all over as the UIGEA. In a nutshell, the UIGEA placed very stringent regulatory restrictions concerning how gambling-related transactions could be processed.
The most reputable sites started a countdown and allowed Americans to withdraw and closeout their accounts. Many trusted gambling sites left the US market at this time. After the dust settled, and the financial and gambling industries learned how to comply with the regulatory oversight provided by the UIGEA, many of these reputable gambling sites have returned to provide services to US sports bettors.
The UIGEA did end up making the online gambling market safer for both the bettors and the operators by imposing a more reliable and stricter regulatory structure for how gambling-related transactions are processed. Gambling sites invested in top tier payment processors while all parties implemented higher-level security protocols to ensure the validity and safety of those transactions that are processed.
While US online gambling funding options are still somewhat limited in some regards, things have stabilized. The emergence of cryptocurrencies have filled the void left by the elimination of US-friendly e-wallets and failed credit card transactions. The UIGEA does not make it illegal for Americans to gamble online. The law simply regulates how online gambling transactions are processed.
The 2011 Department of Justice's Interpretation of Federal Laws.
With the growth of online commerce, several states became interested in offering lottery game services online. This raised questions concerning the application of the Federal Wire Act, driving the DOJ to issue a clarification of the law's reach.
The Department of Justice ruled, and accurately so, that the federal government had no right to tell states that they could not sanction online gambling and therefore established that each US state has the authority to determine their own fate concerning online gambling with the exception of sports betting.
The repeal of PASPA took care of freeing sports gambling as the last remaining federally prohibited form of state-regulated online gambling. As of now, all 50 states have the legal ability to legalize and offer online gambling such as casinos, poker, bingo, and sports wagering. To date, only a handful of states have taken advantage of legal domestic online gambling. However, many states have pending bills to allow various forms of sports betting.
The 2019 DOJ Interpretation of Federal Gambling Laws.
Following the repeal of PASPA in 2018, the reach of the Federal Wire Act has again come into question. In a new interpretation, which many believe was coerced by anti-online gambling activist Sheldon Adelson, the Department of Justice has indicated that the Wire Act prohibits not only interstate wagers but also the sharing of information across state lines.
This determination will certainly harm those states that have entered into interstate gambling compacts to share player pools and resources with other states. The opinion is being formally challenged through a lawsuit headed up by New Hampshire. As the situation unfolds, we will provide updates here.
What You Need to Know Going Forward.
All of this legal information is good knowledge to have under your belt, no doubt about it. However, all you really need to know going forward is that there are no federal laws making gambling illegal in the United States either online or offline, and this includes domestic and offshore sports betting. States now determine the legal status of all gambling entertainment within their borders. As a sports betting resource guide, we want to make this point clear.
For those of you interested in betting on sport but who live in a state that has not authorized state-regulated sportsbooks, you'll have to either travel to a state with legalized sports betting or use a legitimate offshore sportsbook such as the ones you find listed on this site. You can check out our list of states that allow sports betting here or follow our list of recommended online sportsbooks.




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