Is It Legal To Bet On Sports In The US?
This is a murky question and not one that is easy to answer, but we'll do our best to make sense of it all. Honestly, sports wagering is the most restricted form of gambling in-person and when it comes to Internet gambling laws. If you read these laws (which we'll get more into later), they make it sound like the world is going to come down on you. Truth be told, that is simply not the case, especially when the user goes about it the correct way.
We mention the "correct" way because there is definitely a wrong way to go about sports betting that could potentially land you in jail or see you paying fines. This is especially true when it comes to online sports betting. But like we said, if you do it the right way, you'll will not need to fear getting in trouble, being arrested, fined, prosecuted, etc...
Before we turn you loose on our site, we're going to leave you with why some online sportsbooks are considered to be legal while other operations are not. First off, we always stick to using offshore betting sites because they do not fall under the jurisdiction of U.S. sports betting laws. With that said, the government nor any other U.S. authority can obtain their records which would then pin-point you.
Even if they did identify a single user of an online sportsbook, they are not going to waste the resources in order to prosecute the user. Basically, they aren't trying to catch the users but rather they want to eliminate the operators however they only have authority on U.S. soil... the reason why you need to stay with offshore sites.
If you are using an illegal bookmaker operating within the U.S., you may want to reconsider your options. It's only a matter of time before whatever website or illegal bookie you are using is busted. When they get busted, your records will be turned over. When that happens, you might not necessarily go to jail but you can probably bet that the tax-man will be concerned about his share. Bottom line, avoid anything that looks shady and stick with the big brands that are located overseas.
A final word... millions of Americans take to the Internet to place wagers every year, many of which are placed at the very same sportsbooks that are safe for USA players listed below. They stick to these sites because they are reputable, they are fair, they do have the odds Americans want, and much more. These sportsbooks are all equipped with numerous deposit methods which help U.S. players get around pesky laws which aim to inhibit financial transactions (more later).
Without further delay, here are a few of the best sports beting sites that are legal for players in the United States. Note that we do use these sites and what we speak of comes from first hand experience.
Bovada Sportsbook - 50% Match Bonus To $250
The biggest brand and most trusted name for online sports betting in the U.S. is undoubtedly Bovada. Chances are that you knew this book before the U.S. brand name changed in late 2011, previously Bodog Sportsbook. And even though this website is relatively new, it lacks nothing and is the model that other betting sites imitate.
Unfortunately, not all players living in the U.S. will be allowed to wager here. Bovada has restrictions in place against new registrations in New York, Washington State, and Maryland because of deposit difficulties. It is worth noting that Bovada will still allow previous NY Bodog accounts to access the website as a courtesy to one of the largest states.
For those who are accepted, you will likely never need another website for betting on sports. Bovada brings new players in with a 50% bonus that can be worth up to $250 in cash depending on the amount of the first deposit. Once is never enough and that is why this sportsbook rolls out special bonuses and promotions throughout the year that existing players can use to their advantage.
Depositing and getting money out of Bovada is always a breeze as deposits mainly flow through VISA branded cards but can also be performed using a wire transfer service like Western Union. Payout methods are a bit more limited and slower but are just as reliable.
BetOnline - 25% Deposit Bonus On Every Deposit
Though BetOnline's name doesn't carry the same weight as other's in the business, it should not be discounted as one of the best sites that U.S. players can choose to make legal wagers on sporting events. Best of all, no matter where you live, every player in the U.S. (at least 18 years old) is able to register for an account and it's free!
You are definitely going to want to sign up with BetOnline is you are serious about betting. Besides having all the sports and leagues you could hope for, this website usually has game lines posted hours before other sites. Those who depend on sports wagering for a living will appreciate the overnight lines available for betting here.
To aid users with their betting, BetOnline boosts every deposit by as much as 25% depending on the deposit method used which is practically any method other than credit card. If you do use plastic, this bonus drops to 15% however both bonuses are still always worth up to $900 each time. Bonus codes will also be required, CCBONUS for 15% credit card bonus / TXBONUS for 25% other deposit methods bonus.
As we alluded, credit/debit cards are a popular option to deposit here and VISA is leading the way. American Express is also accepted and those who achieve VIP status can even opt for MasterCard. If none of those methods are right, BetOnline has several other options that will work like sending a check.
SportsBetting.ag - 25% Lifetime Reload Bonuses
If you live in the U.S., you will never have any trouble or get into any trouble when making wagers on Sportsbetting.ag. If it wasn't enough to allow players from all 50 states to make wagers, this website encourages Americans through a variety of ways including:
Bonuses - Any time a user deposits into his/her account, up to a maximum of $900 awaits them thanks to the lifetime reload bonuses offered here. A lot of sportsbooks just have one bonus and it can only be claimed the first time a player makes a deposit. That is simply not the case here and because this promotion never stops giving, it has earned SportsBetting.ag high marks.
Deposits / Payouts - Having problems with deposit, or even worse, when trying to get paid can be enough frustration to make you throw your hands up. This sportsbook sees no need for this and that is the reason why they make sure to accept many popular methods including wire transfer, bank wires, checks through the mail, as well as traditional credit cards like VISA and American Express. Sportsbetting.ag doesn't let new users make deposits via MasterCard but that option can be unlocked after some time.
Sports / Odds / Wager Types - If Sportsbetting.ag didn't have the sports that are popular amongst fans in the U.S., they simply wouldn't make the cut. That would be a dumb move for any sportsbook and sportsbooks that do not allow USA players still offer their users wagers on our sporting events. But it's more than just having what you want to bet, any bookmaker should have wager types beyond just straight wagers. Sportsbetting.ag does not let users down as it is prepared to handle numerous wagers including parlays, teasers, pleasers, future wagers and many more.
5Dimes Sportsbook - 50% to $200 Welcome Bonus
Websites like 5Dimes Sportsbook don't stick around for as long as they have by not allowing Americans to wager, or being a seedy operator that can not be trusted. Well, 5Dimes is neither as any U.S. resident that is at least 18 years old is allowed to sign up here for a free account and users can always feel comfortable supplying personal details as this website has been voted #1 for player security.
Technical matters and security jargon no normal person understands aside, 5Dimes can be trusted which should be right at the top of the criteria a book should meet before trusting it with your money. This group was taking bets long before the Internet got popular, and while not always legal, no individual user has ever gotten in trouble simply for placing a wager on their site.
If knowing you will be safe wasn't enough, try on a graduated bonus that can give users as much as $520 when making their first deposit. Most of this bonus comes by way of a 50% to $200 but it doesn't stop at $400 deposited. If you keep going, 5Dimes will continue to match your deposit amount by 20% all the way up to $500 in bonuses. Beyond deposit bonuses, users must take into account how valuable promotions like nickel juice can be... just one of the many promos that 5Dimes is constantly running.
When it's late at night, most games are already over or not worth betting on. So, what do you do? Just one account at 5Dimes gains users access to a casino that has live-dealer games along with one of the finest online poker networks that players can enlist in the U.S. This truly is a one-stop shop for everything related to legal gambling, not just legal online sports wagering.
Best Legal Online Sportsbooks + Sports Betting Sites
Key Points To Using Legal Online Sports Betting Sites In The U.S.
Before you sign up to any of the online bookmakers, listed here or not, you will want to check into as many tiers of the government as possible. Frankly, states or provinces, as well as federal entities, will sometimes all have their own regulations surrounding online gambling and that really hold true when talking about bookmaking. If you live in the United States, know that you will be able to find a great deal of websites that allow Americans to bet sports online. Without having to worry about any kind of legal interaction, you are completely safe from prosecution or penalties which is something that all players have expressed as a necessity.
Before you jump in and begin the sign up process, keep in mind that not all online sportsbooks will take every deposit method. You might find the site that is perfect for what/how you want to bet, but it might not have friendly deposit methods for your situation.
For instance, many turn straight to their credit cards or other forms of plastic but that might not always be possible even when the website advertises that credit card. This is because the UIGEA blocks many gambling transactions. In turn, this makes life more difficult, but there is always a way.
Americans typically turn to alternative deposit methods including e-wallets, prepaid/gift cards, wire transfers (like Moneygram + Western Union), and in some cases, an old-fashioned check or money order sent through the postal service. These deposit methods make funding your account as easy as it can possibly be, but be aware that the easiest option can sometimes be a pain in the butt, or take longer than you want.
If you do find a legal sports betting site that is kicking back your deposits, explore their alternative US sportsbook deposit methods and you may find yourself with an alternate method which could be funded using the very same method which failed.
U.S. Sports Betting Laws
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
The UIGEA stipulates that gambling businesses are not able to knowingly accept payments for wagers that are made. As a result, the operation of an online gambling site in the United States is effectively outlawed. But one important aspect of the UIGEA is that it does specifically mention that intermediary computers are not considered here, meaning that the bettors are not breaking the law. And furthermore, the UIGEA does not make placing a bet online illegal.
Federal Wire Act
The Wire Act dates back several decades, but it's the 2011 ruling in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals that sports bettors should pay attention to. That's because this ruling made the Wire Act pertain only to betting on sports. What this law stipulates is that no form of wire communication can be used by gambling businesses to process a bet or wager made. Again though, the focus of this law is on the business, and not the bettor.
Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act
PASPA was passed by the federal government back in 1992, and was the first piece of major legislation against betting on sports. This outlawed the practice of sports wagering, but did give those states with a decade of more history with licensed gaming the chance to apply for immunity. Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware were the only four states that decided to do that.
Interpretation of Sports Betting Laws In The United States
Certain states may specifically have sports betting laws in place to stop the activity, but they are basically unenforceable. The players or participants on any site does not run the risk of going to jail or face any other legal action from any government by simply placing a bet. The laws in place are meant to thwart the companies from offering the service in the first place. There is one problem with this however. All of these businesses are located offshore and do not fall under U.S. jurisdiction. This makes it nearly impossible to take any type of action against these companies or individuals who bet on sports in The United States.
There have been recent attempts to shut out Americans form placing bets and gambling online, but these efforts have been easily averted by either moving their domain, or just ignoring them altogether. The only chance a site risks any type of recourse is by defrauding American financial instructions or some type of money laundering activity. If a site operates in a sensible manner, there is pretty much no chance of being sought after by the U.S. government. Luckily for our visitors, we have picked through them and we only list the most credible online sportsbooks that are legal for US players. If you want to read more about the legalities, see our article " Are online sportsbooks legal in The United States? ".
Why Some Legal Sports Betting Sites Do Not Accept US Players
So why is it tough to find a legal online sports book that will accept U.S.A. players? Many legal online sportsbooks and sports betting sites are publicly traded companies on foreign stock exchange markets. For a company of this type to engage in somewhat shady business actions would not go over well with its investors.
Many just assumed sites like Bet365 and similar European bookmakers were made to leave the American market. While that statement may be somewhat true, none were actually forced to leave by the American government. Instead of dealing with all the hurdles to jump and risk any type of monetary loss, they simply chose to omit Americans from using their services until online sports wagering truly becomes regulated and therefore legalized..
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