Sports betting has been around for centuries and while some people place wagers on sports events for pure entertainment, others regard these activities as a source of a stable income. When it comes to sports betting activities on the territory of the United States, there is not a definite answer as to whether they are legal or not. The legislative matters are quite complicated but there is a growing demand for legal sports betting options.
Horse racing has gained popularity during the 19th and 20th century. Baseball has also become a pretty popular sport and according to contemporary bookies, the World Series are considered the “holy grail” of baseball betting. Nowadays, sports betting is widespread among all social classes. The late 1960s saw the further development of the sports betting industry as televised sports were introduced to the US residents. Their presence put the beginning of the sports betting revival and captured the attention of all avid sports fans.
The year 1974 was marked by the elimination of the 10% tax on sports wagers and as a result, several brick and mortar casinos opened sportsbooks with the aim avoiding revenue decline and preventing bettors from seeking sports betting options elsewhere.During the 1900s sports betting industry has been taken to new heights as bettors were enabled to place bets over the Internet. As a result, more and more bookies set up shops in countries such as Costa Rica and Antigua and players got the opportunity to place bets from the comfort of their homes.Bookies also added new functionalities and convenient payment methods that attracted even more bettors.
The US sports betting market was given the chance to become a multi-billion industry but things have changed when sports betting activities were prohibited. However, online sports betting has already made its mark and it was clear that it is here to stay regardless of all bans.
Relevant Legislative Framework
The Wire Act of 1961
Although it was passed more than 50 years ago, the Interstate Wire Act still has a great influence over the legislative matters in the United States. Its main objective was declaring the transmission of bets and gambling-related information a crime. Basically, the Interstate Wire Act aimed at making even the point spreads discussions over the phone illegal. Back in the 1960s, there was no Internet, so the only other option is placing a bet via phone.People with knowledge on the matter claim that the primary purpose of the Wire Act was not to question the legal and moral aspects of gambling activities. It was pretty much a tool that helped Robert Kennedy become known as the attorney who effectively fought the organized crime.
However, the modern reading of the Wire Act is considered a bit confusing for lawmakers. After all, it did not specify which wagers are legal and which are not. The lawmakers were also confused as to how they can apply the Wire Act to online betting.The Wire Act was further clarified in 2011 and stated that “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a ‘sporting event or contest’ fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.” Some claim that the Act is applicable only to owners and site operators. The Department of Justice also announced that the Wire Act is not applicable to online poker rooms.
Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006
The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006, also known as UIGEA, was imposed with the aim of preventing USA bank institutions from processing deposits and withdrawals to online gambling sites. However, it never stated that placing sports bets online was illegal. Anyway, the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act made it quite difficult for USA citizens to deposit and withdraw funds to and from gambling websites. As a result, many bettors opted for depositing funds via prepaid cards that had no connection to any American bank institution.
The UIGEA was probably the piece of legislation that had the greatest impact on the sports betting activities in the US. It formed a part of the omnibus national defence bill. That was necessary because legislators were unable to pass the bill on its own, so they “attached” it to the SAFE Ports Act. UIGEA was yet another attempt of the conservative members of the American government to criminalize online betting.
Basically, the UIGEA made it illegal to send and receive money for betting purposes. Only a few markets were excluded from the rule and according to many people, UIGEA made it illegal for Americans to take part in any form of gambling activities. Well, that’s partially true as it just makes it more difficult to process your deposits and withdrawals., not to mention that the Act had some serious loopholes.
Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was enacted in the early 1990’s and according to it, only certain states were allowed to provide sports betting activities to punters based within the state borders. Some states asked for permission to provide sports betting but at the end, there were only four states given the green light to providing online sports betting activities. These were Oregon, Montana, Delaware and Nevada.
Nevada has always been regarded as the gambling Mecca of the United States, so it is not surprising that it offers sports wagering as well. As for Montana and Oregon, their sports betting rules and regulations are still unclear. Delaware punters are enabled to wager on NFL, but Montana and Oregon do not have any sports betting legislation framework despite the fact that PASPA allows them to expand the market.
New Jersey has also eyed the opportunity for providing sports betting and legalizing online sports betting sites. PASPA is probably the least known regulation that is regarded by many as an unnecessary law. PASPA is commonly known as the “Bradley Act”. Senator Bill Bradley used to be a basketball player concerned about the negative effect gambling has on sports. The Bradley Act was intended to declare the sports betting illegal. The bill was passed after a thorough investigation of the sports betting industry. Section 3702 PASPA clearly states that no bets on amateur or professional football events are allowed. In point of fact, lawmakers referred to PASPA in an attempt to prevent the legalization of sports betting in Atlantic City.
State Sports Betting Laws
Each US state has its own laws tailored in accordance with its needs. While federal laws apply to all states, the state laws are applicable only on the territory of that particular state.
Right after the World War II, the United States had its first modern gambling laws. In point of fact, apart from Nevada, the only other state that offered regulated gambling activities back in the 20th century was Maryland. The first legal slot machines in the state were available as early as 1949. The budget crisis from the 1970s had a negative effect on every state in the union and as a result, state authorities opted for expanding the gambling market.
In a nutshell, certain state laws declare online gambling illegal but bettors have come with a witty solution to the issue. They are well-aware of the fact that state laws are not applicable when it comes to off-shore sportsbooks.
Several states imposed bans on online sports betting and punters who place wagers in spite of the prohibition face serious sanctions. Back in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act came into force and it prohibited all types of sports wagering. However, it is applicable only to states where sports betting activities have never been available. In other words, the Act is not valid in states where sports betting has previously been legal.
Many people ask whether sports betting is legal on the territory of the USA and unfortunately, they never get a proper explanation. Technically, sports betting is legal in some states and some forms only. Speaking of the online sports betting in particular, there is no federal ban than prohibits it but the enacted laws impose restrictions to the deposit and withdrawal methods bettors use.
The legal sports betting age depends on the state you are based at. Each state has different requirements about the minimum gambling age but in most cases, it is either 18 or 21. However, you have to know that the offshore operators have their own restrictions when it comes to the legal gambling age.
Popular Sports to Bet on
Expectedly, American football is the most popular sport in the United States. As much as 35% of all sports fans have stated that their favourite sport is namely American football. There are 32 professional teams included in the National Football League (NFL). Each of the 32 teams faces 16 opponents and the games take place in the period September – December. At the end of January, the best two teams play against each other at the Superbowl. If you are planning to watch the game between the best two teams, you have to get tickets in advance. Technically, tickets for the event are sold out before the start of the season.
Baseball is also a popular sport in the USA and it requires intense concentration and polished skills. As many as 30 Major League baseball teams are included in the National and American leagues. The competitions take place at the beginning of the spring and conclude late fall. The best team from the National League and the best team from the American league compete against each other in late fall in order to determine the National Champion.
Baseball is the second most popular game among US sports fans. There are a lot of minor league baseball teams and each of them is affiliated with one of the Major League teams. Basketball deserves to be included in the list of most popular sports among US players as well. The National Basketball Association consists of 29 teams that compete against each other between October and May. The winner is announced in June. There is a total of ten Women’s National Basketball Association teams throughout the US as well.
Hockey is also widespread but its popularity seems limited to certain cities in the USA only. The National Hockey League consists of 30 teams that compete against each other between October and April. The best two teams take part in the Stanley Cup championship. Previously popular among the rural population in southeastern USA, stock car racing is now quite an attractive sport to wager on. As many as 35 NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) races take place between February and August.
Bovada is probably the most popular bookmaker that welcomes US-based bettors. Its interface is user-friendly and the availability of betting options such as parlays and teasers is highly appreciated by punters. As for the odds, there is definitely room for improvement although the current odds are satisfactory as well.
Bovada is also known for offering tempting lines on underdogs especially when it comes to NFL events. As for the racebook, it provides players with the chance to bet on events taking place all over the US. On the downside, the number of international racing events is a bit limited.
The sportsbook provides bettors with various betting options including point spread, over/ under, moneyline, prop odds as well as different statistics and trends.
The live platform enables you to wager on baseball, football, basketball. The odds are quite dynamic and depend on the game plan.
Bovada users are enabled to bet on NBA Basketball, College football, NFL, NHL, English Premier league soccer, etc. Needless to say, Bovada offers an extensive range of casino games as well. Bovada is also known as a bookmaker that ensures fast and secure payouts although some players believe the number of available payment processors is a bit limited.
BetOnline has been available on the US market for quite some time and it became popular as the bookmaker that offers excellent service and great lines. BetOnline has been granted a license by the Panama gambling officials and as a result, it is legally allowed to provide casino games, poker and sports betting options in the US. Once you create your account and place several bets, you will see that BetOnline values its regular customers.
The bookie is focused primarily on football, basketball, hockey and baseball. College football, snooker and rugby are the other sports betting options. BetOnline users have access to detailed information about the performance of the teams/ players, so they can easily make an informed decision and place the right wager. BetOnline also features a racebook covering a large spectrum of horse racing events that take place throughout the US.