Sports Betting Laws In The United States

Sports betting laws in the United States are changing on an everyday basis. Between the federal laws that set the standard and the state laws that move the industries forward, sports betting can be a difficult subject to tackle. Sports betting is a great and fun way to watch sporting events and make them more exciting, but the uncertainty of one’s actions being legal may prevent many others from getting started or taking it more seriously. In order to comfortably wager, bettors should be knowledgeable of their state’s sports betting laws as well as the federal laws that may impact them (or many not).

Recent regulations by the US government and lawmakers have allowed states to operate sportsbooks and expand their offerings from mobile betting to live betting and more. No matter what the state, information regarding the United States sports betting laws can be found on the specific state’s page but the federal laws are discussed more so on this page. Familiarize yourself with the three main laws as well as the additions, as it will only help you keep your peace of mind when you engage in the hobby.

Legal Sports Betting Age In The United States

No matter what state you live in, you must adhere to the legal sports betting age in the United States. While most people think this is generally set at 21, they would be incorrect. Most states do permit players to enter casinos and other gambling establishments at age 21 to bet on sports, but there are a handful of states that allow players as young as 18 to gamble. It doesn’t matter whether the sports bettor is using a mobile device or visiting the land-based facility, the sportsbook age is set by the state.

This includes when players use offshore betting sites for their gambling needs. Nearly every sportsbook will allow those who are 18 to sign up and begin wagering at their sites but it is up to the player to determine their own legality. If one is betting on horses, they would legally be permitted to wager at 18, however, those who are attempting to bet on sports should wait until they are following the local laws. Despite being able to wager, those who are 21 and caught underage sports betting will have their account terminated and potentially may have their winnings confiscated as well.

How Old Do I Need To Be To Play NCAA Tournament Bracket Games For Cash?

Playing bracket games or Super Bowl squares may come off as gambling and it is. For those playing for smaller prize pools and are entertaining a group of friends, it is unlikely that anything will happen to you when setting up and playing these types of games. Even if large prize pools are involved, the state can determine the game to be considered gambling. However, in most cases, these setups are considered social gambling, where states may limit how much a buy-in or how much the total winner can collect from the game. As long as the house isn’t taking a cut, there should be no issues when looking to play NCAA tournament bracket games for cash.

Federal Wire Act And The Effect It Has On Internet Sports Gambling

The Federal Wire Act was put into law in 1961 and is one of the biggest issues in the sports betting industry today. As the law was established in the 1960s, it is quite outdated, yet the US government still uses it to crack down on gambling establishments. In short, this law prevents sportsbooks from accepting a wager from those who are not physically located within the state – and this includes the use of mobile betting.

States that have approved mobile sports betting will geolocate a user’s phone before accepting their wager and there is literally zero way around this law. The Wire Act does not target the gambler, so those who are attempting to wager from outside of state lines should not worry, but instead, it focuses on the sportsbook itself. This law was established to prevent mobsters and underground sports betting operations from hiding their money and transferring it across state lines. While this is not the issue that the law control today, it still holds true and may inhibit your ability to bet on sports. As for the offshore betting sites, this US law has zero jurisdiction over the overseas sportsbooks, so they will accept bettors from anywhere within the US.

Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act

Perhaps the most important law in the sports betting world, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) seemed like the end of the gambling industry in the country. This law (in order to protect the integrity of professional and collegiate sports) made it that states could not offer a state-operated sports betting industry. States like Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana were exempt from this law, as they already had sports betting laws on their books and were grandfathered in. However, as Nevada was the only state that accepted single-game wagering and not a parlay style game, it quickly became the sports betting monopoly it is known for.

Now that PASPA has been repealed (May 2018), states have the right to facilitate their own sports betting laws and regulate their own industry how they see fit. With PASPA gone, many states were quick to legalize sports betting and a handful more are researching the best methods to bring the industry into a tax contributing necessity. This law being repealed is the only reason why the sports betting market has continued to grow immensely since 2018.

Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) may seem like a law that prevents sports betting from happening but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Designed to scare bettors, this law worked for many years until sports bettors realized just exactly what the law entailed. Despite the strong wording in its name, UIGEA only prevents US banks from knowingly processing payments to offshore gambling sites. This includes sports betting sites as well as horse racing betting sites and even online casinos.

UIGEA may be a deterrent for sports bettors but there are many ways around it. To know if you have been a victim of UIGEA is quite easy, as your credit card will be declined when you attempt to deposit with one of our recommended sites. Don’t worry, your card will still be operational and nobody will be coming knocking on your door. Instead, call up the desired sportsbook and they will explain their various deposit (and withdrawal) methods that are welcomed without a bank being the middle man. Methods like Bitcoin, Money Orders, and other possibilities exist, as the sportsbook and the gambler can make their connection and get you, the sports bettor, started.

State Sports Betting Laws In The United States

As explained under the PASPA section, state sports betting laws in the United States are set on the state level. This can cause for very different industries offered despite states being neighbors to each other. For example, bettors in Rhode Island can begin wagering at 18, while those in New Jersey must be 21 to get started. Likewise, bettors in Iowa are not permitted to wager on prop bets involving collegiate athletes, while a state like Oregon allows for betting on any collegiate sport, depending on which sportsbook in the state you use. Finding out these differences can be a challenge but we have designed this entire page for your benefit. Use them as your reference but as always, consult a legal professional about your current situation if you are unsure.