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Sports betting & gambling laws in the USA

Sports betting is now legal in the USA, although it is up to each individual state as to whether they legislate it. For the longest time, from 1993 through the middle of 2019, sports betting was very limited for United States gamblers due to the federal law PASPA or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. However, now that PASPA has been repelled, US residents have found it much easier to bet on sports as there are currently 22 states along with the District of Columbia that have made betting through retail and/or online sportsbooks legal. In this article we will discuss the current sports betting and gambling laws in the USA.

USA Sports Betting


States that have legalized sports gambling

There are several states across the USA that have declared sports betting legal, writing it into their state legislation. This means states are free to tax and regulate the sports betting industry. In many cases, sports betting becoming law has made states act on regulating US online casinos.

  • Arkansas: Arkansas has had sports betting since July 2019 and now has three physical locations that take wagers.Online wagering is also allowed by the Razorback State. However, betting on games involving in-state college teams is prohibited. Arkansas sports betting guide.
  • Colorado: Colorado got its sports betting off the ground, with both in-person and online wagering, last May, at several locations. Colorado sports betting guide.
  • Delaware: The Blue Hen State approved sports betting on June 5, 2018. Delaware allows only in-person betting at three casinos. While the state may increase locations and add mobile betting later, bettors are not able to place wagers on games involving in-state betting on games involving in-state college teams. Deleware sports betting guide.
  • District of Columbia: DC has permitted mobile sports betting since June 2020 with the launch of Gambet DC, its online platform. Gamblers are not allowed to bet on any games involving local collegiate or professional teams as well as games occurring within the District limits. Plus, government buildings and stadiums have been marked as off-limits for mobile betting. DC betting guide.
  • Illinois: Illinois has had both in-person, including at Wrogley Field, and on-line betting since March 9, 2020. While the state has a full menu of betting options available, wagering on minor leagues and Illinois college teams is prohibited. Illinois sports betting guide.
  • Indiana: The Hoosier State has permitted sports betting, both in-person and mobile, since the end of 2019. There is no prop betting on in-state college athletics and regulations permit sports leagues or colleges to request “to utilize a geofence to prohibit wagers at the location of a particular sporting event.” Indiana sports betting guide.
  • Iowa: The Hawkeye State opened its doors to sports bettors in August 2019 and currently has 18 physical locations. Iowa allows mobile gambling but the state does not permit prop bets on in-state college athletics. Iowa sports betting guide.
  • Michigan: Michigan started taking bets on sports in-person in March 2020, however, online betting just became available this past Janauary. MI sports betting guide.
  • Mississippi: Mississippi opened its first sportsbooks on Aug. 1, 2018 and currently has 23 locations where patrons can place bets. The Magnolia State’s only current restriction is that gamblers have to be physically in a legal sportsbook location to place an online bet. Mississippi sports betting guide.
  • Montana: Big Sky Country celebrated its first year of sports betting n March. Gamblers in the state only have the ability to place bets through Sports Bet Montana although online and in-person gambling is allowed. Montana sports betting guide.
  • Nevada: Nevada has the longest sports betting history in the U.S. as gamblers have been able to place bets on sports since 1949. Nevada offers in-person betting at 223 parlors as well as mobile gambling. Plus, there are no notable prohibitions for bettors. Nevada sports betting guide.
  • New Hampshire: The Granite State allows both in-person and online betting. The only restriction is that players can’t place bets on in-state colleges. New Hampshire betting guide.
  • New Jersey: New Jersey led the charge in ending the PASPA which opened up sports betting to states. The Garden State took its first sports bets on June 14, 2018, just three days after Gov. Tom Murphy signed the state’s legislation. Jersey has 10 physical places, i where bettors can place wagers and the state has licensed 14 online/mobile betting sites. No betting on games involving in-state college teams and collegiate events held within the state is permitted. Read our New Jersey online betting guide, or our Top NJ betting sites page.
  • New Mexico: Sports betting is permitted in New Mexico, although the state has not passed any legislation since the Supreme Court abolished PASPA. While the Land of Enchantment has plenty of casinos,only three of them have sportsbooks. The state has yet to approve online sports betting, however, every online sportsbook available for residents has this feature so that means you can place a bet any time of the day. Bettors are prohibited from placing wagers on games involving in-state college teams. New Mexico sports betting guide.
  • New York: The Empire State has permitted on-site sports betting since July 2019 with 11 current locations. Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers agreed to a budget deal that specifically provided for statewide mobile sports betting with at least four mobile sports betting apps — however, there is no timetable for this to take place. No betting on games involving in-state college teams is allowed. Bets that can be placed include moneyline, futures, point spread, totals, parlays, and in-game. New York betting guide.
  • North Carolina: The Tar Heel State is the most recent entity to partake in sports betting, opening two retail lotcations this past month — which are the only places that NC residents can place bets. North Carolina sports betting guide.
  • Oregon: Oregon is one of a handful of states that had sports betting laws on the book but the state didn’t take its first bets until August 2019. The state has nine physical locations, although the one’s that are operated by the Oregon Lottery does not permit betting on games involving in-state colleges. Online betting is permitted, however. Oregon sports betting guide.
  • Pennsylvania: The Keystone State has allowed sports betting on all sports since October 2018. Pennsylvania has more than a dozen physical locations where bettors can place wagers and the state permits mobile and online betting. Pennsylvania sports betting guide.
  • Rhode Island: Rhode Island permits both in-person and online sports wagering, although the state has just two physical locations where gamblers can place bets. Betting on games involving in-state college teams is prohibited. Rhode Island sports betting guide.
  • Tennessee: Tennessee became the first state to legalize sports gambling with no physical locations on Nov. 1, 2020, meaning that players in the Volunteer State must place bets online. Only gamblers that are at least 21-years-old and physically present in the state will be able to bet. In game prop bets on collegiate sports are prohibited as are wagers on penalties and injuries. Tennessee sports betting guide.
  • Virginia: The Commonwealth just started its sports betting journey at the beggining of the new year. Online betting is permitted but wagers can’t be taken on Virginia-based college sports or centrain youth sports. On August 3, 2020, The Washington Football Club became the first NFL team to obtain a wagering related license. Virginia sports betting guide.
  • West Virginia: West Virginia was the fifth state to legalize sports wagering, opening its first fook on August 30, 2018. The Mountain State, which has no notable limitations for bettors, offers five physical locations as well as mobile gambling. West Virginia sports betting guide.

Legislation that impacts sports betting in the USA

Sports betting laws in the USA
There was a time when cool looking gangsters policed sports betting in the USA, but now it’s policed by state gambling regulators.

There are numerous national and state laws that impact the legality of sports betting, in both retail and online betting form. Here are the key laws that impact online betting in the USA:

PASPA

The Proffessional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (aka Bradley Act) was enacted by the 102nd United States Congress on October 28 1992, to prohit sports gambling nationwide with a few exceptions. Thus, leaving Oregon, Delaware, Montana and Nevada as well as the only places that gamblers could bet on sports legally in the United States. The main result of PASPA was it took away an important revenue resource from the states.

The Wire Act of 1961

The Federal Wire Act, aka the Interstate Wire Act, is a federal law enacted in 1961 to restrict the ability for people to take wagers from others over wire communications. The act was originally created to curb the illegal bookmaking activities of organized crime syndicates. Today, the law still makes it illegal for entities to accept any kind of interstate gambling transaction. Meaning that anyone found collecting wagers on sports through some sort of wire transmission would still be liable.

UIGEA

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforement Act Law of 2006 is a federal law that changed the landscape of online gambling in the U.S. and affected internet gambling around the world.The UIGEA originally began as the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Gambling Enforcement Act to further expand unlawful “communication facility” usage to explicitly include the internet. However, what UIGEA really is a banking restriction and regulation law used to curb fraud, money-laundering, and other illegal financial crimes committed through unsanctioned online gambling activities.

RAWA

RAWA (aka Restoration of America’s Wire Act) is a bill that frightens states as it overly empowers the U.S. Federal Governament by banning internet gambing. While the 2014 bill has gained little traction, if it ever passed, RAWA would effectively illegalize any form of domestic or international online gambling sites and forbid its access from American players.


Will more US states make sports betting legal?

Yes. Five states have already passed legislation to make sports betting legal although they are not yet in operation. Washington, Wyoming, South Dakota, Louisiana, and Maryland are the five states that are close to having sports betting. Additionally, 14 other states have active or pre-filled legislation.

  • Washington: Govenor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2368 into law on March 25, 2020,effectively legalizing sports betting for the Evergeen State at Class III tribal casinos. The law permits mobile betting only when the patron is on-site at the Tribal casino. Wagering on minor leagues, Olympics or international sports, in-state collegiate sports and esports is prohibited.
  • Maryland: Voters of the “Free State” approved sports betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education by a 2-to-1 margin. However, the Legislature gave the Lottery and Gaming Commission permission to issue sports betting license and it is unknown whether Maryland will offer online sports betting, retail sports betting, or both.
  • South Dakota: The Mount Rushmore State is targeting September 1 as the roll out date. The city of Deadwood is currently the only place where patrons are expected to be able to place bet as online betting is not permitted.
  • Louisiana: Sports betting will be available in 56 of the state’s 64 parishes either later this year or in early 2022. It is currently unknown whether online betting will be available in the Cajun State.
  • Wyoming: While Wyoming recently approved both on-line and retai sports betting earlier this month, residents can currenty place bets at tribal casinos.

Time of sports betting being made legal in the USA

September 13, 1961 Wire Act Passed
October 28, 1992 PASPA Passed
October 13, 2006 UIEGA Passed
September 20, 2011 DOJ Issues Opinion On Wire Act
October 27, 2011 Nevada Launches First Legal Online Sports Betting App
April 30, 2013 Nevada Launches First Legal Online Poker
August 13, 2013 Delaware Launches Legal Online Poker And Casino
November 21, 2013 New Jersey Launches Legal Online Poker And Casino
May 14, 2018 SCOTUS Declares PASPA Unconsitional
June 5, 2018 Delaware Launches Legal Sports Betting
June 14, 2018 New Jersey Launches Legal Sports Betting
August 1, 2018 Mississippi Launches Legal Sports Betting
August 1, 2018 New Jersey Launches First Legal Sports Betting App
January 14, 2019 DOJ Issues Revised Opinion On Wire Act
March 11, 2020 NBA Becomes First Sports Entity To Cancel Season Due To COVID -19
April 13, 2020 Draftkings Becomes First Publicly Traded Sports Book In U.S.
July23, 2020 MLB Begins Season And NBA Returns To Play
August 1, 2020 NHL Resumes Season
August 3, 2020 Washington D.C. Launches First Ever Stadium Sportsbook
September 9, 2020 PointsBet Signs First-Ever College Football Deal With The Colorado Buffaloes
September 30, 2020 Caesers Purcheses William Hill For $3.7 Billion
September 30, 2020 5Dimes Pays Feds $46 Million To Settle Illegal Sports Betting Lawsuit
December 1, 2020 Sky Ute Casino Announces Plans To Launch First Ever ESPORTS Exclusive Sportsbook
December 16, 2020 DraftKings Launches Industry’s First Ever Retail Gift Cards
March 19, 2021 Tennessee Action 24/7 Becomes First Sportsbook Ever To Have License Indefinitely Suspended

USA framework for online betting laws

Sports betting the USA is slowly being legalised right across the country, but it is on a state-by-state basis, which is a pain to keep track of and police. There has been some discussion about updating the USA betting laws to include a national framework, which would essentially mirror a gambling regulator like the UK Gambling Commission.

While progress on sports betting has been swift in some states, others are dead against make it legal, with this push usually coming from retail casinos. Retail casinos fears have been somewhat allayed by many states enacting policy which forces online betting sites to partner with a retail venue.

Other states in the USA have legalised retail betting, but kept the ban in place for online betting, while others allow betting apps, but do not allow best to be placed from devices without location data available.

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