Is It Legal To Bet On Sports In The US?
The United States no longer has so much of a taboo relationship with sports betting. In mid-May of 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a federal law passed in 1992 that, essentially, placed a ban on commercial sports betting across most states.
With due process having run its course, the sports gambling industry is, for the most part, now considered legal. Granted, there are a litany of exceptions. States still have the ultimate say in whether commercial wagering can take place within their lines. Not every government at that level will embrace this new-found legality.
Overall, though, the negation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection act has already opened the floodgates for amended legislation in many states. New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Mississippi and West Virginia all had sports betting laws locked and loaded for this exact outcome, with more than a dozen others to follow suit.
Here’s a quick breakdown of where every state stands:
Fully Legalized sports betting
- New Jersey
Bills That Were Recently Passed
- New York
- West Virginia
Bills In Progress (and Expected to Pass)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Still Waiting On Bills to be Introduced
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
This picture will change. In fact, it will only expand. And technically, if you’re already using online sportsbooks, this won’t impact you too much. It’s nearly impossible to monitor overseas websites. Citizens of the United States have been using those as gray-area workarounds for a while now.
Others forms of sports gambling will remain illegal. Using an actual bookie, for instance. It’s also unclear how certain states will treat sanctioned betting hubs. Some may strictly have officially endorsed websites. Others will have standing structures that, perhaps, include virtual casinos. Underground poker games—i.e. larger-scale tournaments—are not suddently okay.
Either way the mushrooming legality is generally good for online bettors. It borderline blows for overseas sportsbooks, who will have competition they haven’t regularly encountered before. But that only means they’ll go to greater lengths to draw in bettors. And that should, in turn, give way to better deposit bonuses and overall incentives—even for recurring customers.
Key Points To Using Legal Online Sports Betting Sites In The U.S.
Understanding the Legalities
Look, not all states are going to come out with bills that green light online sportsbetting. It will still remain illegal in certain areas.
But you’re no longer operating entirely in the wrong if you choose to ignore that stance. Online gambling will become too difficult to monitor from a federal and state level with all this increased action. Plus, how do you repudiate something in an official capacity when there’s a precedent being set across more than half the country that tilts toward the contrary?
Basically, your main concern now is finding the right sportsbook more so than anything else.
U.S. Customers Access
Certain online sportsbooks will still prove inaccessible to users in the United States. These companies are either blocking bettors from states without a sports betting policy in place or, more likely just blocking out U.S. customers altogether.
Do not interpret this as an end-all harbinger. The same does not apply across all sportsbooks. If you’re prevented from using one, you simply need to search out another.
In the event you’re truly worried about inadvertently breaking some type of law, you can always visit state-backed websites to see whether they have literature explicitly for online gambling. You’ll find that most don’t.
Online sportsbooks weren’t as prevalent when most states were trying to crack down. The act that was overturned in 2018 was passed in 1992, prior to the dot-com boom. So while state laws will typically mention specific examples like lotteries, casinos, poker rooms, standing sportsbooks and all that, they will usually exclude offshore gaming sites. Even when they were considered “illegal,” they were too difficult to monitor. It wasn’t worth it to the federal or state levels to try cracking down. So it’s certainly not likely to be a huge issue now.
Legal Obstacles for Deposits/Payouts
Bettors using overseas sportsbooks in states that take hardline stances against gambling will need to be smart about how their making deposits and payouts. Credit card transactions and bank wires can be easily rejected. They’re also easier to monitor.
If you’re going either of those routes anyway, try to keep your deposits and payouts to a happy medium. Banks will typically flag transactions that approach $10,000 at a time. You’ll need to keep this in mind if you’re worried about any tax or legal ramifications.
Alternative methods such as bitcoin, prepaid cards, wire transfers and money orders can be particularly useful in the most prickly situations. If possible, though, it’s always better to set up some sort of direct deposit to your card or account. You’re usually guaranteed to get your funds faster in that scenario. Those other workarounds should be viewed as more of a last resort, unless they’re a personal preference.
Different sportsbooks also allow for various payment methods. One site may welcome credit cards. Others may not. It’s important to do your research before attempting to make a deposit. The necessary information is usually somewhere on the front page or clearly marked in a tab, and it’s important you pick the site with the most convenient methods for you specifically.
The Importance of Shopping Around for Odds
Single-game and futures odds will vary by website. It’s important you surf around to find the odds that best fit the investment you’re trying to make. One sportsbook may be laying more enticing returns on an outcome you deem most likely.
Joining up with multiple sites is a good idea for this exact reason. You don’t want to go through the trouble of researching odds only to make a new account every time you find one that piques your attention. That’s fine on occasion, but the process gets annoying when done over and over.
Try finding between three and five sportsbooks that work for you and set up the necessary accounts. Our reviews will help. You don’t necessarily need to be super active on all of them. Your information just needs to be up to date enough so that you’re able to place new wagers at your leisure, without having to go through the sign-up process.
Impact of Increased Lega Sports Betting on Offshore Sportsbooks
At first blush, the increased legalization of sportsbooks in the United States should mean more action for overseas websites. But, really, these new laws are designed to steal their business.
Standing sportsbooks will start to be erected across different states as time wears on. More immediately, there will be an increase in domestic online sportsbooks. On top of that, leagues like the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, et al. will likely be getting a cut from some of the action placed in the states. That will compel them to incentivize certain domestic sportsbooks for their fans. We’ll see apps built left and right, with league’s inviting mid-game wagers on site.
Add it all up, and offshore sportsbooks could see a decrease in activity on their end. After all, a large swathe of their client base now has other options.
To compensate, they’ll probably run special promotional programs. This bodes well for you. Some of them will even rethink their payout procedures. They’ll find ways to get you your money in more of an accelerated fashion—anything to keep your business.
Play these inevitable offerings to your advantage. Capitalizing on the United State’s latest laws is a must. Betting domestically will seem like less of a risk, and in some cases, it will be more convenient. But overseas sportsbooks aren’t going anywhere. They’ll do come up with ways to keep luring you in. Let them.
At the bare minimum, most offshore sportsbooks just promise you more. The United States will be in the infancy of a new era for the next decade or so. Their sportsbooks may not deliver as many props, virtual poker games, casinos, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which are the Safest Sports-Betting Sites?
Read our more extensive reviews for the best answer. Generally, though, it’s best to stick with the biggest brands: Bovada, MyBookie, BetOnline, TopBet and 5Dimes—sites like these.
Can I use my credit card online?
Yes! But it also depends. Some sportsbooks still aren’t accepting credit cards. Others only take a handful of bank-backed cards. Sportsbooks don’t want to deal with the processing fees and have always worried about payment being refuted by certain banks. Expect to see more sites identify this as acceptable payment now that the United States as a whole is softening on the gambling front.
When can I place my bet online?
Anytime! You’ll need to place single-game wagers before they actually start, but most sportsbooks now bring you live in-game/in-match betting, where you can gamble on the outcome of a particular contest after it’s already underway. The introduction of mobile betting apps also makes it worlds easier to place wagers whenever you please.
How does a betting site know where I am?
Most modern computers allow sites to use your location, which they normally identify with built-in GPS signals or IP addresses. That’s how certain sportsbooks block citizens of the United States, but not international gamblers.
Can I bet with my cell phone?
Of course! Mostly every sportsbook worth their salt has a betting app these days. As long as you’re account is set up, you’ll be able to make deposits, place wagers and call for payouts from where. Be on the lookout for professional sportsbooks coming up with their own version of these apps, so that they can capitalize off those who are willing to invest in mid-game bets.
What currencies can I bet with online?
All of them, basically. Though the variety of deposit options will change from sportsbook to sportsbook, every site tends to have an assortment of methods from which you can chose: Credit card, personal check, cashier’s check, money order, wire transfer, direct bank account withdrawals, prepaid cards, bitcoin, etc. If one sportsbook doesn’t have the method you’re looking for, you should be able to find another one that does.
How soon can I cash out my winnings?
It depends. If your sportsbook doesn’t have a minimum withdrawal amount, you can summon one however you want. Granted, this doesn’t apply to any potential bonuses. Sportsbooks usually attach rollover policies to any free money they give away. For example, if they give you an extra $100 with your initial $100 deposit, you often need to bet that bonus 12 times—for a total of $1,200—before it’s eligible to be withdrawn. Getting your own money that isn’t tied to the initial incentive won’t demand such measures. Just be prepared to wait for your funds to arrive. The turnaround time varies by sportsbook and withdrawal method.
What types of wagers can I place online?
All sorts! Different types of bets include: spread, moneyline, over/under, props, parlays, if/then and more! Explore all the types of options your preferred sportsbook offers. It might surprise you.
What age can do I have to be to legally bet online?
The answer to this will be differ depending on the state. For most of the USA’s 50 locations, though, you need to be 21 years of age or older before setting foot in a consider. Some, however, allow for 18-year-old bettors. When in doubt, default to your state law.
Why can I not use some web wallets?
Processing fees factor into everything. Some of these third-party intermediaries charge sportbooks a fee, in addition to charging you one. Plus, because everything’s digital, it’s harder to recoup a fraudulent transaction.
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.
This is something else you can expect to turn the other way in light of the new Supreme Court ruling. Though the Federal Wire Act is still in effect for now, it will likely dissipate into nothingness as the rush to legalize sports betting in more than half the U.S. continues.
Something else to consider: Even if your state describes sports gambling as illegal, it needs to explicitly call out online wagering. If it doesn’t you could be able to make deposits and withdrawals from offshore sportsbooks without much of an issue.