Is Betting With Friends Legal?
If you have ever wondered if that bet on the Super Bowl with your friends was legal, you are not alone. Though billions of dollars are spent on sports betting each and every year, there are still questions concerning just how legal your March Madness office pool or friendly wager on the NBA Finals really is. Betting with friends on sports at your home or at the bar falls into the category of social gambling. Many sports enthusiasts do not realize that this activity falls into its own legal category in many states. There are some states that permit social gaming, others that strictly prohibit it, and a few that draw no distinction within their laws. If a state does have a social gambling carve out, you will typically find it within in the same chapter that pertains to gambling.
The simplest way to bet on sports with friends- or even by yourself - is to use an online sportsbook. The laws for online sports betting are typically more cut and dry, and using offshore sites does not carry the risks that land-based sports wagering can. Still, it is worth understanding the legality behind betting on sports with friends at your home or in a social setting. As you continue reading, you will be able to get an overview of how social sports betting works in the U.S.
The definition of social gambling will differ slightly, but it is generally considered wagering amongst friends in a non-public area. Participants must compete on equal terms and no player can be a professional gambler. A $10 bet that you with your buddy while watching a football game at your home would constitute a social wager. On the other end of the spectrum, running books and creating a large-scale operation crosses into standard gambling territory, which is illegal and punishable by law.
“’Social gambling’ means gambling that is not conducted as a business and that involves players who compete on equal terms with each other in a gamble if all of the following apply:
- (a) No player receives, or becomes entitled to receive, any benefit, directly or indirectly, other than the player's winnings from the gamble.
- (b) No other person receives or becomes entitled to receive any benefit, directly or indirectly, from the gambling activity, including benefits of proprietorship, management or unequal advantage or odds in a series of gambles.”
There are certain states that permit social gambling, however the exact laws can vary drastically from state-to-state. Some states will have clearly defined laws on the terms that players must compete on, while others will limit the amount that can be won and wagered. There are other states that have rather vague laws where the types of social contests permitted to wager on are not clearly defined. The one commonality between all states that allow social gambling is that there cannot be a house cut, meaning that the host or a certain individual does not make a profit from the pool. It is best to research the individual social gaming laws in your particular state to ensure that friendly sports bets are legal in your state. That being said, here are the states that do have social gambling laws that permit betting with friends in some capacity:
Betting with friends on sports online is legal as long as you use offshore betting sites. There are certain federal laws that prevent sports betting sites from operating within the United States. The Wire Act of 1961 makes it illegal for those in the business of gambling to accept bets or provide assistance with the placement of sports wagers via wire communication facilities. Being that the law has been interpreted to include the internet, you will not find state-regulated online sports betting sites. The legal sports betting sites that US citizens use every day are those that are regulated overseas. Though headquartered in locations such as Antigua and the United Kingdom, these sites are licensed to accept players from the USA. You can join a legitimate sports betting site and not have to worry about the often times confusing social gambling laws that apply to land-based sports betting.
Betting with friends on sports is best done in a regulated, online environment. Let’s say that you make a bet with your friend and win, but they decide not to hold up to their end of the deal. In some states, you will have no way of recovering your funds. In some jurisdictions, the loser may be able to sue the winner and recover losses. With murky social gambling laws, many sports fans prefer to just use an online sportsbook. You can all place bets online and see who comes out on top.
You and your friends can join an online sportsbook to get started with placing wagers. When you visit a sports betting site, you will be asked for basic contact information such as your name, address, telephone number, and email address. After registering, you will be presented with several deposit options and be prompted to fund your sports betting account. You can choose a fast and reliable method like bitcoin that will have your account credited within minutes. Or, you may opt to use a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express for your sportsbook deposit. One of the major benefits of betting with friends on sports online is that each person can choose their own preferred deposit method.
There is no denying that you have more betting options at a legal online sportsbook that you will anywhere else. You and your friends may be interested in different sports, and online sportsbooks will have a wide selection of sports to choose from. You can bet on NCAA basketball, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLB, NCAA football, and more. Some of the available wager types include moneylines, totals, point spreads, parlays, teasers, and if-bets. Rather than having to come up with a system to track all of your friends’ bets, everyone will have their own bet slip where bets are automatically graded and payouts instantly calculated.
Betting with friends on sports is made even more convenient when you take the wagering to your smartphone. With mobile sports betting apps, you and your friends can bet while on the go. You will have the same selection of sports and wager types at your fingertips. Easily fund your account or request a payout while waiting in line or watching the game. With no download required, no one in your group has to worry about space being taken up on their mobile device. Simply visit the sports betting site from your iOS, Android, or BlackBerry device to be automatically directed to the mobile-friendly sportsbook.
Betting with friends on sports is best done in a regulated, online environment. Let’s say that you make a bet with your friend and win, but they decide not to hold up to their end of the deal. In some states, you will have no way of recovering your funds. In some jurisdictions, the loser may be able to sue the winner and recover losses. With murky social gambling laws, many sports fans prefer to just use an legal online sportsbook. You can all place bets online and see who comes out on top.
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