Federal Sports Betting Laws In The USA

There are three federal laws associated with sports betting in the United States, all of which directly affect the way Americans can place wagers on sporting events. With the expansion of the Internet, the online gambling world exploded and the federal government followed suit with legislation pertaining to betting sports online in the United States in response.

Below, we share with you what these three laws are, and what they do to prohibit betting on sports in the U.S. We also break down what each of them means and how they are applied in the real-world.

Federal Wire Act Of 1961

The Federal Wire Act goes all the way back to the 1960's and the John F. Kennedy Presidential administration. While the original intent was to curtail money laundering through gambling by the mob, today the Wire Act is still enforced for sports betting. In fact, in 2011, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the jurisdiction of the Wire Act was to only cover sports betting, and not other types of wagering. The Wire Act prohibits those in the business of betting from accepting, processing, or paying out a wager on sports through the use of wire communication.

In essence, the Wire Act is a way to prevent businesses from engaging in sports betting; it bans inter-state sports wagering. When one party living in the United States phones in, emails, etc... a wager with a bookmaker (licensed or not) in another state, they are in violation of the Federal Wire Act. However, it is very important to note that the Wire Act falls short when stopping online wagering as the most-used sportsbooks are located off of American soil. The Wire Act was never designed to go after the bettor (unless it was proven that some type of point shaving scandal occurred) and with the bookmaking operations located offshore, nothing is done to either party unless more serious violations like wire fraud, etc... have occurred.

Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006

With the boom of the industry in the early 2000's, those against online gambling took to Congress to pass the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. This law prohibits American banks from knowingly sending or accepting a payment or multiple payments with known offshore gambling operators. As the UIGEA encompasses all forms of online gambling, online sports betting is obviously on the list of affected gambling activities.

What does this mean for online sports betting? It just means that making a deposit or getting a payout from a wagering site can take a little bit more time and be a little bit more involved. In reality, all it does is slow things down. It hasn't made the deposit/payout process any less reliable or possible, it only complicates matters. Know that there are several ways to deposit funds which are not in violation of the UIGEA, many of which are accepted by the same sportsbooks that welcome USA wagers.

At the end of the day, know that your credit card won't always work when you go to deposit and that you are assured of payouts taking a little bit longer to receive. Other than those two things, nothing really changes for the player or the sportsbook (because they are located off U.S. soil) and only the banks are accountable. Because they are the only ones accountable, they will do their best to shutdown electronic transactions which the reason behind your credit/debit card transaction not being accepted.

Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992

Set in motion back in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) banned sports betting all across the United States except for four states; Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, & Montana. Those states previously had sports lotteries and similar activities to modern-day sports wagering therefore they were permitted to continue the activity so long as the states passed laws to regulate it.

The law also provided the opportunity for an exemption to be added to the list of four. The window was one-year from the effective date (January 1st, 1993) and was only for states that had active casino gambling with ten years of consecutive regulation. If a state met those qualifications, they could apply to be exempt from PAPSA provided they would pass legislation to regulate the industry. Unfortunately, no states took advantage of that exemption and thus only the original four are permitted to regulate sports betting of which only Nevada and Delaware actually do.

PAPSA has played a big role in banning of sports betting across the country, but at the same time it did nothing to combat the online aspect... primarily because it was passed in 1992 and they had no idea what was about to hit them with the birth of the Internet. As where the Wire Act makes inter-state wagering illegal, PAPSA makes intra-state wagering illegal in states that aren't included. But like the Wire Act, PAPSA can do nothing to stop or prosecute U.S. citizens that go online to make wagers effectively making it harmless.

Side note: There has been heated discussion lately to repeal PAPSA. In the current economic state of the country, many states are looking to add sports betting to their land-based gambling options. Like we said earlier, only Nevada and Delaware are taking advantage of this but other states definitely want to get in. We'll keep you updated as the motion has yet to be addressed by Congress.

Sports Betting Sites That Accept Players From Your State

There are plenty of quality online sportsbooks that are completely legal and safe for players in the United States to sign up and join. Below are two of the online betting sites that we trust the most because we know you will be treated right when joining here.

Know that these sites are all located off U.S. soil and therefore are not subject to any of the laws we mentioned above. Being that they accept players from the U.S., you know they are going to have what you want to bet on so quit contemplating whether or not to make that bet and just go ahead and sign up.

Bovada Sportsbook - Outside Jurisdiction Of U.S. Online Betting Laws; 50% to $250 Welcome Bonus

Bovada is an online sportsbook based in Costa Rica. There is a reason that it's so close to the United States. It's because they want USA players to come and sign up at their sportsbook and place wagers. If you visit Bovada, you will see hundreds of betting odds spanning the NFL, NBA, NHL, college football and plenty more. Bovada accepts players in the U.S., though residents in the state of Maryland, New York, and Washington are not accepted due state gambling laws.

Upon signing up and making your first transaction to fund your account, U.S. bettors are awarded an extra 50% on top of the deposit amount. That bonus can be worth as much as $250 when depositing $500 however it only takes a $20 minimum in order to start the match; deposit $20, bet with $30.

Despite the UIGEA making deposits a hassle, Bovada accepts VISA debit and credit cards with a pretty high rate of success. That's not saying that 100% of the deposits go through but most are able to fund their accounts. Unfortunately, options like MasterCard, American Express, or even PayPal are not available to deposit here. Other deposit options outside of using plastic include wire transfers (i.e. Western Union), and Rapid Transfer for players living in the United States.

Why You Won't Get Into Trouble For Betting Sports Online

Betting sports online in the U.S. is something that can technically be done without breaking any laws that would get you in trouble. As an individual bettor, the ability to sign up at for an account at betting sites and wager for real money without having to worry about getting into trouble is out there.

We've summarized what we've talked about on this page as examples to view below; these are the reasons why you will not get in trouble with the United States government for using any of these legal sports betting sites or even the ones that aren't.

The Businesses And Not The Bettors Are Liable - Because of the fact that the individual bettor is specifically excluded from these laws pertaining to online gambling, like the UIGEA, there are legal ways to wager on sports online. U.S. players can create an account legally and then put money down on all of the sports they like.

Offshore Sites Are Not Under U.S. Jurisdiction - The sites that operate offshore are not under the jurisdiction of the UIGEA or the Wire Act or PAPSA, and as such, Americans can sign up and bet on sports provided that they meet all of the age requirements at the site and whether or not the sportsbook permits players from your state; most accept all 50 states.

Offshore Sites Accept USA Players - Not only is it legal for play at these sites, many of them allow and are excited about sports wagers from the U.S. These sportsbooks know there is a big demographic out there with needs to be met... the bottom line is that we love our sports, we love money and we love to bet which creates the need for reliable bookmakers that U.S. players can trust.

We can talk till we're blue in the face but the fact is that millions of Americans, typically NFL and college football fans, flock to the Internet to make wagers on games and they do so without any repercussion from the federal government. It has almost become a bit of a past-time and all you need to do in order to get a real world picture is ask your friends, other sports fans, etc... The ones that take to the Net to make bets on sports will all tell you that there is nothing to fear from their state sports betting laws nor the federal ones.

One Of The Best Legal Sports Betting Sites Online

Trusted For Players In The U.S.