Laws Regulating Sports Betting in the U.S.

The United States is a country that has a pretty lenient stance on government regulation of casinos and other gaming, but the federal government is tough on legal sports betting. They gave authorization for a couple states, Nevada and Delaware, to operate, but outside of those two states, you will not find a legitimate land-based sportsbook. The legal landscape makes it difficult for states to pass new laws that enable their casinos to offer sports betting, although legislators from all over the US are fighting to dismantle the laws that restrict sports betting. Fortunately, no one needs a casino to place bets because of the internet, and more people are using online sportsbooks than ever before.

The sports betting laws are seriously tough when it comes to land-based betting, but they haven’t ruled out the best alternatives to Vegas, online sportsbooks. The web-books can’t be indicted by the feds at all, and their users face no legal penalties. These sites are the best place to make a bet on the professional football and baseball leagues. They have full schedules and will make the betting process as easy as possible. Best of all, they accept users from all over the US. Getting started at a new site is free and totally legal, as millions of Americans can attest to.

What Laws Regulate Sports Betting?

The United States of America has quite a few laws that dictate the availability of sports betting. There are going to be a few federal laws that users need to know about and these statutes have sweeping nationwide impacts on the organizations that would facilitate sports betting. The UIGEA is a financial regulation, the Wire Act monitors and regulates communication facilities, and the PASPA regulates sportsbooks and other gaming establishments. These laws work in tandem to prohibit almost all American companies from accepting wagers on sports. Also, some states have their own gambling laws that oversee the use of the internet by their residents. The best part about the international online sportsbooks is they avoid the hassle of American law, and accept bets from users worldwide.


The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed back in 2006. Its original intent was to regulate the financial transactions between gambling organizations and banks that reside within the US. The federal government was using this law to impose oversight on any transactions to gaming websites and they tried to stop any involvement of creditors in the US with betting websites. This law was passed through as a port barrel project on an anti-terrorism bill within the US, which is as wacky as it sounds. This law was never read by congress and it was still passed through unanimously. The online sportsbooks can still accept electronic payments from customers in America, but the law has an impact to customers requesting a payout. With UIGEA in effect, the sports betting sites are not going to be able to offer an electronic withdrawal to a credit or debit card, but they have no problems sending a check, rapid transfer, or many other payout variations to Americans.

The Wire Act

The Wire Act was written back in the 1960s with the intent to stop illicit bookmaking across the United States. The Federal financial institutions had worries over the consumer credit industry and the collections of individual debt was on the rise due to outstanding gambler balances. The government passed a series of anti-racketeering laws in order to combat mafia activity. These laws were targeting any individual or organization that accepted bets from players, and they do NOT target the person (you) who is placing a bet. It’s would’ve been impossible for the government to enforce a law that targets individual players and so they only went after bookmakers. The best sites on the internet for sports betting are based in foreign countries and the jurisdiction of American prosecutors doesn’t go far enough to shut them down. These great services can accept information regarding bets over the internet and this law doesn’t affect them or create any legal repercussions for their members.


The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is a law that was passed by the Federal government of the United States back in 1992. This law is an oversight measure that limits the availability on sports betting across the nation. The national law allows for a couple of states to continue to offer their residents a legal state-sponsored sportsbook, but disallows all the rest unless specifically authorized. Nevada and Delaware were some of the states that retained an exception to the law and they only offer their services to their respective residents. This law has a drastic effect on American companies, but those based internationally have found themselves in a unique position. They can fill the void left by US companies and offer a legal opportunity to make a bet on the NFL championship contenders and the other games and tournaments from around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sports Betting Laws
Has Anyone Been Arrested For Using An Online Sportsbook?

It’s important to note that none of these laws have any consequences on the player. These laws are more interested in targeting bookmakers than prosecuting players for betting on their favorite teams. There aren’t any records online for players being put in jail for violating the PASPA, the UIGEA, or the Wire Act. The online sportsbooks are safe for US players and the government will not indict anyone for using an international betting website.

How Old Do Sports Betting Sites Require Their Members To Be?

Most of the sports betting websites are going to require their users be at least the gambling age of the jurisdiction in which they reside. The federal government has left it up to the states to decide what their legal ages are going to be. Many of the states have made their age to be at least 18 years old, and some states have higher requirements of 21 years old. Any online sportsbook is going to ask their users be at least 18 years old, but if their members’ state requires them to be 21, then the sportsbook does as well. It’s important to the online sportsbooks to have a good standing with their gaming commissions so they can continue to offer legal sports betting to American residents and they will not hesitate to suspend an account for allowing a minor to gamble.

Find Out More: Legal Sports Betting Guide

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