Is Online Sports Betting Legal In The United States

All across the world people use online book makers to wager on sporting events. These sites offer an easy and efficient method to place bets from the comfort of your own home or in some cases on your mobile phone. Recently one large market has been left in the dark on this billion dollar industry. Many Americans are in fear of using online betting services because they do not know if it is illegal and might get in trouble. The million dollar question remains, is it legal to bet sports online in the United States?

There are many regulations in place that talk about sports betting and using online services to do so. However, most of these are very difficult to understand unless you studied law at Harvard or they paint an unclear picture as to what they prohibit. Some discuss betting over the phone, and others vaguely describe online companies. It's difficult to say whether or not betting on sports for Americans is legal or not. We can say that no person has ever been charged with using online book makers to place sports bets.

The Wire Act Of 1961 And It's Effect On Legal Sports Betting In The U.S.A.

The Wire Act of 1961 was meant to prohibit certain methods of placing sports bets. Mainly the use of telephones since at the time Las Vegas was the only legal place to wager on sports. The law was meant to outlaw bookies who operated outside Las Vegas. While the official wording of the document states, and I quote;

"The term "wire communication facility" means any and all instrumentalities, personnel, and services (among other things, the receipt, forwarding, or delivery of communications) used or useful in the transmission of writings, signs, pictures, and sounds of all kinds by aid of wire, cable, or other like connection between the points of origin and reception of such transmission."

It is clearly difficult to understand what constitutes the use of a wire placed wager. Back in 1961 there was no internet so it obviously was not meant to ban this specific method. Since it is unclear on whether or not this act applies to betting sports online in the U.S., it has never been used to go after sports bettors. It is argued in circles that this is only used to prosecute owners and operators of sites. Recently the Department of Justice released a statement saying that the Wire Act of 1961 does not apply to online poker rooms. This is good news for poker players and can be considered good for sports bettors as well.

The UIGEA And How It Effects Legal Sports Betting In The U.S.

The UIGEA or Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 was meant to stop financial institutions in the U.S.A. from processing payments related to online gambling sites. It never states that it is illegal to bet sports online in the United Sates. This did make it rather difficult to deposit and get payouts from online betting sites and poker rooms, but more reliable options are now available. The usage of pre paid cards and wire transfers who have no connection to American banks make getting money on and offline much easier.

PASPA - The Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act

PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, was passed into law in 1992, with an effective start date of January 1, 1993. This law was finally overturned by the US Supreme Court (by a vote of 6-3) on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and violated the 10th Amendment tenets of reserved states’ rights. The following description of PASPA is included here as a historical reference of this woefully misguided law:

In the early 1990's, the United States Government decided to enact PASPA which effectively limited which states would be allowed to offer sports gambling to those within its borders. Certain states were grandfathered in, others had the chance to apply for exemption based on previous experience with regulated gambling, but when the dust settled, there were only four states approved for legalized sports betting... Nevada, Delaware, Oregon + Montana.

We already know that Nevada has sports wagering, but the other three are unclear. Delaware actually has betting on the NFL in the form of parlays, but neither of the remaining two has regulated bookmaking operations despite PASPA saying that it is ok. Additionally, sports betting in Delaware, Oregon, and Montana was not the same as that in Nevada, as comprehensive, robust sportsbooks were not included in these states’ exemptions. Their only option was to provide what they’d offered up to the point PASPA went into effect, which amounted to sports-themed lottery/bingo style games.

Now, PASPA no longer governs land-based wagering, but it actually threw a wrench in the works for legalizing online betting sites for many years, as did (and do) a few other laws. With PASPA gone, it shouldn't be too long before the other federal gambling restrictions mentioned above are a thing of the past, and that will be joyous news to states like New Jersey who has finally added bookmaking to their list of gambling options available in Atlantic City.

State Sports Betting Laws

Most states do not have specific laws on the books making betting on sports illegal. A few states such as Washington and Maryland have recently implemented bills to ban online sports betting. However these laws for online sports betting are used to go after owners of sites and not the players. Some sites may choose to block players from these states, but this does not mean betting sports online is illegal in the United States.

So, is Online Sports Betting Legal In The United States???

It is our opinion that it is legal to use only the most trusted, best sites to place bets on sports, and you will not get in trouble. As stated above, no person has ever been charged with a crime pertaining to using an online service to bet on sports. The laws and regulations set in place are unclear at best for the most part. Even when laws do apply strictly to online sports betting these are used to go after the sites and not the members of said site.

Will online sports gambling ever be regulated one day? Chances are that it will but it will likely be the last of the three major forms of online gaming being discussed these days... even as New Jersey + Nevada are launching legal gambling sites, bookmaking elements – despite PASPA’s overturn – still face regulatory challenges in each of the states going forward with plans to offer Internet-based sports betting.

Is NFL Betting Legal?

NFLThe short answer is yes, NFL betting is legal in all 50 states. The long answer is far more detailed but the basics can be summed up rather quickly. State law on the matter is almost non-existent outside of a few states because federal law had supremacy and superseded it. When PASPA existed, states simply relied on that sports betting ban instead of legislating their own corresponding bans. Therefore, there was no need for state laws. Federal law only deals with the operation of sportsbooks and not the act of placing a bet.

So, is NFL betting legal online? Yes, and several states where land-based sports betting is already legal (like New Jersey, Delaware, and Mississippi, among others) are actively trying to get online NFL betting live by the start of the 2018-2019 NFL season. However, for the majority of Americans, the best online football betting sites are outside of U.S. jurisdiction and are fully licensed and tightly regulated by their home countries’ gaming authorities so they’re legal, reliable and reputable. Football fans nationwide can bet at any or all of these sites with confidence, knowing that they won’t be running afoul of federal or state laws by betting on the NFL.

Legal NFL Betting

Legal Sports Betting Age

The betting age in the United States is not consistent. That’s because the legal age to bet is decided by states, and not the federal government. States have decided that the gambling age should be either 18 or 21, but as far as which states implement which age it's up to the local government.

When applying the betting age to online sports betting sites, there are a couple of factors to consider. The first is that the sportsbook is based offshore. They are not under federal or state jurisdiction. Therefore they have their own age. But many sites will also state that the local gambling age must be met in addition to their age as well.


While we state that it is perfectly fine and safe to place sports bets online in the United States, we are not lawyers and suggest that anyone with concerns to contact a legal professional. We are simply avid bettors who follow this industry and have the knowledge most do not. Using the information at hand and a little common sense, we offer our opinions and conclusions on this matter.

Best Sports Betting Sites Legal For U.S. Residents

Satisfied with the info we've presented so far? Good because this section is dedicated to covering the places where it is legal, if not extremely safe, to make a wager online. These websites have gained a reputation for being legit and it's not something they're willing to compromise to increase their bottom line. Our staff has active accounts at these bookmakers and routinely risk their own money when making picks.

Bovada Sportsbook

One of the best places that USA players can go for legal online sports betting is at Bovada Sportsbook. This betting site truly epitomizes exactly what a sportsbook should be. They have betting odds that cover all of the most popular sports in the U.S., and form a plethora of different betting lines for sports like the NFL, NBA + more.

Bovada allows bettors from every state but five to create an account - Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Nevada cannot create accounts. Those states which are allowed will be able to participate in legal online sports betting at on the top-rated spot around. Even better, new members that sign up at Bovada today can take advantage of the company’s $250 Sports Welcome Bonus, which carries the most generous rollover terms (X5) in the entire industry.

BetOnline Sportsbook

BetOnline has some great features for bettors to check out. Along with being a legal sports betting outlet for American players, account holder and prospective bettors are able to access the site from just about anywhere now. Through the use of mobile betting, BetOnline has expanded its operation into the realm of mobile devices. And though there is no official iPhone or Android BetOnline app for American customers, the site has gone the extra mile to craft a first-rate mobile browser interface for streamlined odds selection and one-tap wagering.

Complete access to BetOnline can be had through mobile betting, as betting lines for all of their sports and other sections (like casino games, poker rooms, and international racebooks) can be accessed. Whether a wager on an NFL game is placed, or a prop bet on the NBA, BetOnline can accommodate even the busiest sports bettors around. New members are eligible to receive a generous 50% Welcome Bonus worth up to $1000, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are also accepted.

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Legal Online Wagering FAQs

Is It Legal To Bet On International Sports?

The offshore online sportsbooks we mention offer betting lines on not just American sports like the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and collegiate sports, but they also have lines on international soccer leagues, cricket, and a ton of other globally popular sports. The variety of wagers and wager types available is simply incredible.

What Deposit Methods Are Legal To Use At Online Wagering Sites?

While most sites offer a solid variance of deposit methods, the top options tend to always be credit card and debit card deposits, as well as money orders, cashier’s checks, and bank transfers. Bitcoin has become very popular as well, as have other cryptocurrency altcoins like Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, DASH, and others.

What Payout Methods Are Legal To Use At Online Wagering Sites?

Just like the deposit options available, the top offshore online wagering sites offer up several different withdrawal methods to choose from. All of these payout options vary regarding how long they take to get to you and how much each avenue costs in terms of added service and transfer fees. It’s up to you which method you prefer, but you will see most of the same options as the deposits (sans credit and debit), and most users are similarly going the crypto route of Bitcoin et al.