Is Online Sports Betting Legal In The United States?
Online sports betting sites not only offer excellent opportunities for punters to place bets on local as well as international sports events, but also give away attractive new player bonuses and come with features such as in-play betting, live video streaming, and mobile betting. Registering at an online sportsbook is great fun. Punters from all over the world place bets on sports events online, but US players tend to worry about the legality of placing bets at online sportsbooks.
There is a federal sports betting law that makes betting on sports events illegal in all US states except in those few states that already had sports betting facilities before this law was framed. While most US states offer pari-mutuel betting facilities and a few offer some forms of sports betting facilities, sports betting is illegal in most US states. At the same time, there is no law, either at the federal or at the state level, which makes it illegal for US punters to sign up at offshore online sports betting sites.
Sports betting laws, even if they exist, are vague, unclear, and inadequate. It is quite definite that neither the US federal government nor individual state government legalize, authorize, oversee, or regulate online sports betting facilities. Owing to the inadequate online sports betting laws, they do not prosecute individual punters placing bets online. US punters can, therefore, sign up at offshore online sportsbooks without having to worry about the law.
The Wire Act of 1961 is one of the few federal laws that touch upon sports betting issues. This law was especially created to eliminate bookies that operated illegally and received bets from punters over the telephone. Recently, the DoJ has clarified that this law applies only to online sports betting, although it does not outlaw the placing of bets, but only the receiving of bets. Moreover, it affects only operators of illegal online sportsbooks within the US, not to players.
Another federal law that worries US punters who want to register at online sportsbooks is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. While this law does not criminalize the act of placing bets online, it only makes it criminal for banks, payment processors, and financial institutions based in the US to process gambling related funds. The UIGEA has proved very ineffective against curbing the activities of offshore operators as well as individual US punters.
Coming to the state level, most US states hardly have any sports betting laws worth speaking of. Some states such as Maryland and Washington have passed sports betting bills, but these are designed to deal with illegal operators, not individual players. If a licensed online sportsbook, which operators from a distant country, is willing to accept US players, Players can go ahead and register without worrying about the laws at gambling sites for USA players.
US sports bettors are urged to bet only at legal, licensed, and regulated online sportsbooks that are run by highly reputed companies. If they are still worried about legalities, they can always consult a reputable attorney.