|Legal States||ALL 50||46 STATES EX: DE, MD, NJ, NV||ALL 50||ALL 50|
The question of whether or not it is legal to bet on sports in the US is not as difficult to answer as it once was. Sports wagering is still a controversial topic in the United States but it is no longer the most restricted form of gambling. The Supreme Court removed the federal prohibition on sports betting, leaving the choice to regulate in the hands of state governments.
The decision came after a years-long battle between New Jersey and the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL. The leagues filed suit against the state when former Governor Chris Christie attempted to legalize sports wagering in NJ. Ultimately, the Court ruled 7-2 that the federal law banning such legalization was unconstitutional, and struck down the law. The decision in the Murphy vs. NCAA case changed the American sports betting industry.
Now, we can say that it is legal to bet on sports in the United States. There is no ban stopping Arizona, Maryland, California, Mississippi, or any other state from establishing land-based sportsbooks. That being said, a state can still choose not to offer sports betting to citizens. Sports betting regulations are made on a state-by-state basis and therefore are not the same for every sports fan.
It is still illegal to use local bookies and to start your own unlicensed sports betting scheme, no matter where you live. American sports bettors can visit local sportsbooks in their state or visit online sports betting sites without breaking laws.
Without further delay, here are a few of the best sports betting sites that are legal for players in the United States. Note that we do use these sites and what we speak of comes from firsthand experience. There may also be state-licensed sports betting sites in addition to these:
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!
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.
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:
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.
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 holds 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. The sites that we mention are based offshore, but you also have state-licensed options as well. As long as there are no explicit laws against online gaming in your state, 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 bitcoin, ethereum, 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.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
The UIGEA stipulates that gambling businesses are not able to knowingly accept payments for wagers that are made. There are several important aspects of the UIGEA to consider. The first is that it does specifically mention that intermediary computers are not considered here, meaning that the bettors are not breaking the law. The second point to remember is that payments are only potentially blocked if using an unregulated site. The most important takeaway is that regardless of the stipulations, 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. Also, this only applies to states where sports betting is not legal.
Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act
This law is no longer applicable, but you may still want to know its history. 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 permitted to offer sports betting. In 2018, the law was declared unconstitutional and all 50 states have the right to decide whether or not to legalize sports wagering.
If you look throughout history, the interpretation of sports betting laws in the United States have changed more than once. The Wire Act of 1961, for example, was written well before the advent of the internet but was still interpreted to include the World Wide Web decades later. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was once considered to be fair and just, however 25+ years later it was found to be unconstitutional.
What this means is that sports betting laws in the United States should be considered revolving, not stationary. As times change, so do the options for betting on sports. What once only took place at a brick and mortar location can now happen from a computer or smartphone. As such, new sports betting laws will be written to stay in stride with the changing technology. What we do know is that there is no federal ban on sports betting and sports fans, therefore, have options. Generally speaking, as long as US sports bettors are of age when they gamble and do not use a local bookie, interpreting the rest of the big picture laws is secondary at this point. Sports betting is not illegal in the U.S., and you can focus more on state laws than federal legislation. If you want to read more about the specific legalities regarding the internet, see our article "Are online sportsbooks legal in The United States?".
It seems that states are split 50/50 when it comes to their opinion on online sports betting. Some local governments are in favor of state-licensed online sportsbooks, while others want to keep all the action on land. New Jersey, West Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania are among the states in favor of online sports betting, with the option for operators to also offer mobile sportsbooks. You can always check you gaming commission’s website to see if there are state-sponsored sports betting sites.
With all that being said, we are going to keep up with all of the latest news that happens in each state if it has to do with legalizing sports betting. Check out our state sports betting guide and find your state to see what is happening with the current laws, if anything.
So why is it tough to find a legal online sports book that will accept U.S.A. players? In the past, the combination of PASPA, the UIGEA, and the Wire Act made many online bookmakers feel like they were backed into a corner. Rather than have to determine what (if any) legal implications these federal laws would have on business, oddsmakers opted to leave the U.S. market.
Now that there is no overarching sports betting ban in the United States, it would not be unreasonable to expect an influx of legal sports betting sites to enter the market. With sports gambling-friendly states issuing licenses to eligible operators, sports fans will now be able to choose from both American and offshore online sportsbooks.