Due to the legal nature of sports gambling in the United States, there is heavy debate over the states where sports betting is legal. There are so many laws pertaining to sports gambling that the industry has essentially had the odds stacked against its favor, and many players are afraid to bet solely based on the idea that there is a possibility of being put in trouble for betting on sports.
The issue is further complicated by whether you are talking about land based or legal online sports betting, and the problem effectively erupts into one that is far more complicated than it needs to be. There is a veritable web of confusion when it comes to the legal issues of sports betting, and we are going to try to offer you some insight as to what is going on.
Land Based Sports Wagering
Before we even begin to touch the issue of online sports betting, let us take a moment to discuss land based sports gambling and the laws there in. Due to this pleasant little law that was passed in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This law, also known as the Bradley act, effectively made it so only a few states were entitled to offer sports betting within their borders. These states would be those who already offered sports gambling prior to the passing of the law. These states include Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana. To further complicate this, only the forms of sports gambling that had been previously offered would be allowed to operate within the state. Nevada runs full blown sportsbooks, while Delaware operates parlays on NFL games. The Oregon and Montana sports gambling options are sports lotteries, but these states have since ceased offering the option within their borders.
The PASPA has been challenged on multiple occasions, but no progress has yet to be made. Several states, primarily New Jersey, have sought to have the PASPA overturned. As of yet, there has been no progress made. Opponents to the PASPA claim that the way the law is written makes in unconstitutional, as the power to regulate gambling rests on the shoulders of the states due to the fact that the states have the power to make laws that are not explicitly granted to the federal government. Should this change, you will see that more states will be able to legalize sports gambling.
Internet Based Sports Wagering
In terms of online gambling, the PASPA does not actually matter. This only applies to the establishment and regulation of sportsbooks within the state's borders. Online gambling is subject to its own unique laws and regulations, and this has made it difficult to really pin down a solid answer. We have found that the two major laws pertaining to online sports betting is that of the Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The first says that it is illegal to operate a sports betting business through the use of wire communications, while the other says that gambling companies are not allowed to accept payments from American players. No where does it say that the player is liable provided they are not the ones operating the sports gambling business.
The main law we are going to look at when determining which states allow sports gambling is the UIGEA, as courts have determined that the UIGEA has granted the states the right to make up their own decisions over whether or not they would authorize online gambling in their borders. The truth of the matter is that every online gambling site operates off shore, so there are no licensing complications through the different gambling sites out there. We have compiled a brief list of states that have either explicitly banned online gambling in their borders, or those that have at least mentioned sports betting in their state legislature.
States In Which Online Sports Gambling Is Illegal
- Washington State
- South Dakota
All of the other states in the U.S.A. have not listed anything pertaining to online sports gambling over the Internet, so you will probably not have to worry about the law.
States In Which Land Based Sports Gambling Is Legal
- Delaware (Only Team NFL Parlays)
States Fighting To Get Sports Betting Legalized
New Jersey is right at the top of this list trying to get legal sports betting into their state. Twice the citizens of the state have voted in favor of legalizing sports betting. But under PASPA it can't be done because of the federal law. As a result, New Jersey has taken their fight to the courts, but has been voted down. However it has not been a complete waste, because New Jersey has been able to convince some judges that PASPA is unconstitutional because it takes away the will of the states. The last remaining recourse for New Jersey will be in front of the United States Supreme Court.
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If you want to help change the laws pertaining to sports gambling, we can only recommend that you contact your legislature, both state and federal, in order to voice your opinion. You do have the power to vote these people out of office after all. Just keep in mind that adding to the list of states where sports gambling is legal is not likely to be an easy task.