US Sports Betting Laws That Apply to Legal Online Sportsbooks

Legal online sportsbooks which can legitimately offer their services to residents in the USA have to meet certain stipulations. But all of the reputable sportsbooks on the World Wide Web can be divided into basically two classes - non-US offshore sportsbooks, and US-based sportsbooks. The important sports betting laws which extremely limit the number of United States sanctioned legal sports wagering websites include the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), The Federal Wire Act and the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) at the federal level. Individual states in the US have dozens of sports gambling restrictions, too many for the purpose of this article. Let's take a look at how the major US sports betting laws have created a booming legal offshore sports gambling business.

Federal Wire Act Of 1961

What is usually referred to as the Federal Wire Act is actually named the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. Intended to prohibit US companies that knowingly use "a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers", this ancient piece of legislation actually still has power. It is the basis for many arguments in the anti-gambling community in the United States. As with all federal laws in the USA, it has no power over countries located outside of the US. Long before the Internet was born, this developed a need for legitimate, licensed non-US sports gambling offerings.


PASPA is next up on the chronological list of sports betting laws in the United States. Also referred to as the Bradley Act, this 1992 piece of federal legislation aimed to give a clear definition to the legal status of sports betting in the USA. Sports lotteries at that time were conducted in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana. Nevada also offered licensed sports pools, and sports gambling options. Those four states were offered exemptions from the PASPA legislation, which effectively outlawed offering sports betting nationwide. New Jersey was also offered PASPA exemption because it claimed state-run and regulated casinos which offered sports wagering. NJ declined to accept the exemption. This is one of the most important and recent laws in the United States which makes running a sports betting operation in the US illegal, except in a very few number of cases. As with the Federal Wire Act, the long arm of this law does not reach to Malta, Canada, the UK, Panama and other jurisdictions which certify and license reputable Internet sportsbooks for legal US player support.


UIGEA became a reality in 2006, and was actually a simple Title VIII addendum to the SAFE Port Act which was concerned with regulating US port security. Specifically excluding fantasy sports and state recognized intrastate and inter-tribal gaming, the UIGEA "prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law." This is the law Department of Justice officials leaned on when they shut down the three largest US online poker operators in 2011. Once again, UIGEA is a US federal law. Responsible offshore jurisdictions who license only trustworthy, safe and secure Internet sportsbooks are free to deliver their products to US citizens, as well as international sports fans.

Conclusion - What These Sports Betting Laws Actually Mean

There is not a single state or federal United States law which penalizes or prosecutes an individual citizen of the US for placing a sports wager. You simply have to find those non-US Internet sportsbooks where a valid and legitimate gambling industry has been licensed, and is regulated. A handful of the top operators in the online sports betting industry, the ones we offer access to here on our site, have obtained legal licensing and online gambling certification, and can be counted on for a safe, secure and enjoyable sports wagering experience.

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