Is Online Sports Betting Legal In The United States?

There are no laws preventing sports betting at online sportsbooks on the federal level. Several states even host their own, state-regulated sportsbooks in addition to online sportsbooks, so bettors can rest assured that there is nothing illegal about sports betting in the United States.

The Wire Act Of 1961 And Its Effect On Legal Sports Betting In The USA

The Wire Act of 1961 and its effect on legal sports betting in the US cannot be overstated, albeit the law only has a few remaining consequences in modern times. The Wire Act (aka the Interstate Wire Act, Federal Wire Act, or Interstate Anti-Crime Act) was meant to prohibit certain methods of placing sports bets – namely any method that allowed easy transmission of wagers across state lines. The Wire Act mainly addressed the use of telephones in offering and accepting sports bets. (The government has provided the rationale that this was to curb the operations of organized crime, but a more complete historical perspective indicates that the Wire Act was actually designed to protect state monopolies of the lottery industry, as mobsters were running far more lucrative and popular numbers games along with their sportsbook services.)

The operative portion of the Wire Act says simply that anyone "engaged in the business of betting or wagering” who “knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers…on any sporting event or contest” will be guilty of a federal crime, facing large fines and up to two years behind bars.

It is perhaps difficult for people in modern times 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 of betting sports online in the US. Of course, that’s trivial, as the government (and common sense) both designate Internet technology as “wire-based” or equivalently so. In the same way the Second Amendment applies to muskets and modern guns alike, the Wire Act applies to telephone and Internet connections alike.

However, note that the law makes no mention of individuals placing these wagers, only individuals “in the business” of accepting them. Ergo, the Wire Act is only concerned with domestic sportsbooks that accept wagers across state lines or from those living in foreign countries. (Note: Though the Wire Act was historically interpreted to apply exclusively to sports wagering transmissions, the US Department of Justice in 2018 “clarified” that it applies to all forms of online gambling. This so-called reinterpretation is extremely controversial and is currently being challenged in court by several states, namely New Hampshire.

The UIGEA And How It Affects Legal Sports Betting In The US

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, better known as the UIGEA, went into effect in 2006 after sneakily attaching itself to the SAFE Port Act. The purpose of the bill was to prohibit the processing of payments associated with online gambling to financial institutions that are based in the United States. The UIGEA does not make online sports betting illegal however, it is designed as a banking regulation. Despite the bill not outright making online sports betting illegal, it has made it difficult for many sports bettors due to blocking payments to banks.

These affects truly hit hard in 2011 during an event known as Black Friday where a multitude of popular online poker sites were found to be in violation of the UIGEA. Since then, however, online sports betting has been made easier with a slew of new payment methods that bypass the UIGEA’s restrictions. Those include cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin, prepaid international credit and gift cards, and also wire transfers that all have no connection to US banks. These methods have essentially made UIGEA a non-factor in online sports betting.

Overturned: PASPA - The Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act

PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, was – by far – the law that had the largest and farthest-reaching effects on the legal sports wagering industry in America. Essentially, for the 25 years that PASPA was the law of the land, sports betting was not legal in the United States (except for in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana, though these three latter states offered only the most limited possible versions of the pastime and were not able to offer Vegas-style single-game sports betting of the kind to which we are all now accustomed).

Briefly, PASPA was a failed attempt by New Jersey senator and former NBA player Bill Bradley to establish Atlantic City as Las Vegas’ East Coast counterpart. Because AC needed sprucing up and was in dire financial straits from the start, Bradley crafted PASPA with a key caveat: Any state that had 10 straight years of legalized casino gaming under its belt at the time of the law’s passage could legalize and open sports wagering venues within one year, thus exempting them from all of PASPA’s restrictions (as was the case with NV). The only non-Nevada state that met this criterion? You betcha: New Jersey!

Ironically, of course, internal political quibbling prevented NJ from offering single-game sports betting within that one-year window, and on January 1, 1994, NJ was barred from offering sports wagering outright, joining the rest of the US states. They fought this ruling practically ever since, and from 2012 to 2018, the state successfully got their case through the circuit courts and all the way to the Supreme Court. On May 14, 2018, PASPA was finally overturned by the SCOTUS in a 6-3 ruling (Murphy v. NCAA).

With PASPA now a thing of the past, all US states are currently free to establish their own sports wagering rules and regulations. But that doesn’t mean that sports betting is legal in the United States through and through. Yes, a few states have legalized the pastime and authorized such gaming to take place in certain venues or online via state-based vendors, but the vast majority of states have yet to pursue the initiative in any concrete way. Most industry insiders expect 35-45 states to have legal sports wagering installed within the next 3-5 years, albeit there is already a movement at the federal level to take back sole oversight of the industry. Hopefully, the states will not give such authority back to the same entity that foisted PASPA upon the nation, but political lessons are often tremendously difficult to learn the first time around. Only time will tell whether or not the US Congress gets involved again.

State Sports Betting Laws

Different states in the United States have different sports betting laws. These laws can vary widely in terms of what is criminalized within each state, and what the punishments are. For example, some states limit potential sportsbook locations to just a handful of venues (Delaware, Rhode Island, West Virginia), while others have them practically everywhere (Nevada, Mississippi). Some states tax their sportsbooks’ revenues at low rates (Nevada, 6.75%), while others have much higher tax rates, like Rhode Island industry-leading 51%. In some states, you only have to be 18 to bet on sports locally (Rhode Island), while in others, you have to be 21. Some states only allow sports betting on tribal land, and some states allow commercial sports betting. Some states have online sports betting, and some states do not.

With legislators having the final say on all aspects of their own state-regulated sports betting industries, their laws will never be totally identical or interchangeable with one another. As stated above, while the federal government approach generally hopes to establish a set of blanket one-size-fits-all standards, the state-by-state approach is far more appropriate, as it allows the industry to cater to the local populaces and dominant cultures in those areas. There are a lot of different laws to know depending on what state you are in.

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

Yes, online sports betting is legal in the United States. Individuals will not get into any legal trouble for betting at state-regulated or overseas-based online sportsbooks in the United States. The only laws that exist against sports betting are targeted towards unauthorized sportsbook operators, so individual bettors are at no legal risk.

Will Online Sports Gambling Ever Be Regulated Nationwide?

Since the overturning of PASPA, states have slowly legalized and regulated sports betting, with 30 states hosting an active sports betting market by the beginning of 2022. More states are likely to legalize and regulate their own sports betting industries, but some states will likely remain holdouts - despite this, bettors in these unregulated states can still use the recommended online sportsbooks on this page safely and legally.

Is NFL Betting Legal?

NFL betting is legal in all 50 states. Currently, 30 states offer state-regulated NFL betting; the rest allow bettors to utilize overseas-based online sportsbooks, since there are no laws against their use in any state.

What Other Sports Are Legal To Bet On At US Online Sportsbooks?

One of the greatest things about wagering at offshore sportsbooks over the Internet is not necessarily the sheer convenience of it all (though this is a big point in its favor). Instead, it’s the fact that – being based overseas – these sportsbooks actually follow, study, and post lines on tons of sports that US books don’t bother with. On average, you’ll get more than a dozen extra popular sports to wager on just by using an offshore book compared with an in-state book, and you can wager on a huge selection of sports, leagues, and more.

Just a few of the supported sports that these top offshore books offer include the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAAF, NCAAM, NASCAR, golf, tennis, MMA/UFC, boxing, rugby, cricket, soccer, international basketball, international ice hockey, track and field events, the Olympics, futsal, volleyball, weight lifting, bowling, billiards, darts, and more. If it’s a sport and people watch it, you can bet on it at offshore sportsbooks. With thousands of wagers to place each day, the fun never stops!

Legal Sports Betting Age

The legal sports betting age varies by state; however, most states’ legal betting age are set at either 18 or 21 years old. Online sportsbooks, such as the ones recommended on this page, typically set their minimum age requirement at 18 years old. Despite this, it is advised to wait until your state’s prescribed age to avoid any legal issues.

Disclaimer:

We here at USAOnlineSportsbooks.com are not lawyers. We are avid sports bettors and knowledgeable on every aspect regarding the landscape of the sports betting industry, from the how-tos to the current events happening both on the legal end and gambling end of the market. This site offers readers our opinions, knowledge, and general thoughts on sports wagering. However, if there is ever any doubt as it pertains to the legal side of the industry, we advise our readers to contact a legal professional with their questions to be absolutely certain that their concerns are addressed properly.

Best Sports Betting Sites Legal For US. Residents

Below you will find a list of the top online sportsbooks accepting American sports bettors. Each of these sportsbooks are licensed in their home countries and have been safely and legally providing a top-notch sports betting experience to U.S. sports bettors for over a decade.

Bovada Sportsbook - America’s Favorite Legal Sports Betting Site

Bovada Sportsbook

One of the best places that US players can go for legal online sports betting is 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 US and overseas, and they always produce a plethora of different betting lines for sports like the NFL, MLB, NBA + more.

Bovada allows bettors from every state (except NV, DE, NJ, NY and MD) to open an account. Residents from those states which are supported by Bovada will be able to participate in legal online sports betting at the top-rated spot around, and Bovada’s mobile sportsbook is the best in the business. All your wagers are just a tap away! 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. There’s no promo code for this, either, as it’s so popular that Bovada decided to just offer it as a default!

Bovada Sportsbook Review Visit Bovada

BetOnline Sportsbook - More Crypto Options And Bonuses That Anywhere Else

BetOnlineBetOnline has some great features for bettors to check out. Along with being a legal sports betting outlet for American players from all 50 states, account holders and prospective bettors can access the site from just about anywhere. Through the use of mobile betting, BetOnline has expanded its operation into the realm of mobile devices, as well. 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 its mobile betting portal, including the site’s mobile sportsbook, mobile poker room, online casino, and international pari-mutuel racebook. Whether you want to place an NFL wager or post up a prop 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 (promo code BET1000), and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are also accepted. With a dozen different ways to fund your account (all with low minimums and high maximums), BetOnline is perfect for sports bettors of all skill levels and financial means!

BetOnline Sportsbook Review Visit BetOnline Sportsbook

MyBookie Sportsbook - One Of The Best Legit Sportsbooks

MyBookie SportsbookMyBookie is one of the best online sportsbooks around. They focus on providing an excellent sports betting experience to users of all skill levels and familiarities. If you want to wager on the latest college football or NFL moneylines, you can find that at MyBookie, but if you want to wager on whether or not Lizzo will wear a thong to the Super Bowl, or if someone will flash the camera at the World Series, you can bet on that at MyBookie as well.

Basically, they’re a sportsbook built for 2022 - the world provides a lot of opportunities for entertainment and wagering, and MyBookie takes full advantage. You can bet on whether or not Donald Trump will win the presidential race, or you can bet on whether or not he will get banned from Twitter. MyBookie, to put it bluntly, has it all.

MyBookie Sportsbook Review Visit MyBookie Sportsbook

GTBets Sportsbook - 150% New Member Deposit Bonus + More!

GTBets Sportsbook

GTBets isn’t for every American bettor, as the site is very selective when accepting members. If you live in DE, DC, KY, LA, MD, MS, MO, NJ, NM, NY, NV, OR, PA, RI, WA, or WV, you can’t sign up at this time. However, if you live anywhere else in the US, you can join GTBets without issue. And that’s a good thing, as the promotions at this sportsbook are some of the most generous and innovative in the industry.

The sports currently offered by GTBets for your wagering pleasure include the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, auto racing, eSports, and international favorites like soccer, rugby, tennis, volleyball, handball, golf, and cricket. GTBets also offers an online casino and full racebook.

New GTBets members can claim a 150% worth up to $1000 in cash credits, which are more versatile than the typical free-plays you’ll find at other sites. Other promos include reload bonuses, racebook rebates, refer-a-friend perks, and things like progressive parlays with 5-figure payouts.

GTBets Sportsbook Review Visit GTBets Sportsbook

Legal Online Sportsbooks

Legal Sportsbooks New U.S. Player Bonus Go To U.S. Betting Site

Bovada SportsbookReview50% Up To $250
BetOnline SportsbookReview50% Up To $1,000 NEW!
MyBookie SportsbookReview50% New Member Bonus!
BetUS Sportsbook125% Up To $3,125
XbetSportsbookReview100% Up To $300
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Legal Online Wagering FAQs

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, rugby, golf, MMA, boxing, and a ton of other globally popular sports. The variety of wagers and wager types available is simply incredible, often providing you with even more action than the best casinos in Vegas. Most of the top sportsbooks available online will have several thousand wagers posted per day (which increases even more when you include live betting).