Is It Legal To Bet Sports Online?
The biggest question that bettors might have when looking at wagering on sports is whether or not they can legally do so online. Online sports betting sites are based all over the world, but they are not allowed to setup their base of operation within United States because of antiquated laws like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The language contained within the UIGEA and the Wire Act of 1961 might lead some to assume that making a bet at a sports betting site is illegal, however this is simply not the case especially if you have a liberal interpretation of what 'legal' and 'illegal' means.
To you, does the term 'illegal' mean against the letter of the law, or does it mean that you will not get into trouble? This is important to figure out before starting out, because it definitely changes the answer to this all important question.
If 'legal' means safe, and that you will not get into trouble, then yes, it is legal to place a bet at an online sports betting site where American players are accepted. If 'legal' means allowed and regulated by federal law, then the answer is still yes because many legitimate sports betting sites are based in countries that permit online bookmaking enterprises to operate lawfully, and even regulate them to ensure quality...to ensure that they are legitimate sports betting sites. But if 'legal' means allowed under U.S. law, and regulated by U.S. authorities, then you're out of luck, as all online sports betting sites that can be trusted have been forced into other countries like U.K., Costa Rica, and Panama just to name a few.
As a matter of fact, U.S. residents are not committing a crime in the eyes of the federal government if they are simply placing an online wager for entertainment purposes. This means placing a bet with your own money, where you, and only you, will lose or profit from the result of the wager. The antithesis of this would be placing wagers for others, and taking a percentage of the winnings just like the online bookmakers do. If you do this, you are essentially a bookmaker which, as we covered, is a crime.
If you take a few minutes to read over the different federal sports betting laws, you will notice that all of them hold the party accepting wagers accountable for any crimes committed, and not the party placing the wager. Proof of this is seen in the fact that sports betting sites legally operate in countries that are outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S. authorities, and that Americans wager over $250 billion, yes billion with a 'B', annually on sports with over 95% of those wagers being placed with offshore sportsbooks. With numbers like those, you can definitely see that our answer is based in reality and not off of some lucky duck that managed to fly under the radar without getting into trouble.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act - The UIGEA strikes at the way in which an online gambling business (like a sports betting site) can accepts payments for a bet or wager. The UIGEA says that businesses running a gambling site are not able to accept and process a payment from a bettor that is for the intent of making a bet, or paying one out. So you see it's the payment process specific to a wager that is banned, not the bettor.
In fact, the UIGEA takes it even a step further in the language of the law, stating that 'intermediary' computers are excluded from this. In other words, those placing the bet are not breaking the law; it's only the operation of the site. The UIGEA almost gives permission for a bettor to go elsewhere to seek out an online sportsbook accepting them without outright saying it. It's outside of the country, so in the eyes of the law, it's done their part exactly how it was designed, by keeping gambling sites from operating in the United States.
More: Learn More About Law
Specific state laws could exist in your area, and to figure those out it's best to consult your local state site or an attorney to best answer that question for you. Aside from that, bettors will not have to worry about getting in trouble for making a wager at an online sportsbook that allows residents from their state to do so. For more information on whether it is legal to bet sports online in your state, please consult our state by state guide that breaks down each state's laws and discusses legal ramifications, if any, when using online sportsbooks.
Tired of all the legal mumbo-jumbo and ready to jump into the action? We know it's tiring but it's always best to be educated before beginning your adventure. Now that's out of the way, check out a few of the SportsBettingStates' staff favorite picks which we've highlighted below. Many of these are the same sites shown on our legal sports betting sites page, but that's because they are truly the best of the best. Stick with what we've laid out here and you are all but assured of a positive online sports betting experience.
Bovada accepts players from just about every state in the U.S. to make a wager with them for real money on sports. Unless you live in New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, New York, or Maryland, you are able to sign up. In Washington and New York, it has to do with depositing options. In Maryland, it has to do with the state not allowing players to bet at Bovada. Aside from that, legal real-money bets on sports can take place no matter what your favorite team is, or sport of choice.
Bovada is licensed out of Canada, and sets up their operation in Costa Rica with the American sports bettor in mind. Bovada legally allows players to create an account and deposit real money through a variety of different depositing options including major credit/debit cards that are capable of international purchases. To compliment those options, Bovada is also extremely well equipped to handle payouts through methods including checks, cash wire transfers, and direct bank wires.
Unlike some of the other options, BetOnline's sportsbook is friendly to anyone that meets the legal age to gamble in their home state. If that age is 18, then BetOnline will allow you to register when you're 18 years old...if it's 21 years old, then BetOnline will ask you to wait until you're 21. But as long as those requirements are met, BetOnline is ready and totally willing to approve your registration + accept your deposits, as all 50 U.S. States are allowed to wager here including territories like Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and more.
Once you've made it past their extremely easy sign-up process, BetOnline provides incentives to get new users to make their first deposit including a 25% match good for all the way up to $1,000 in freeplay. But even if they didn't have terrific rewards this sportsbook would still reel the players in, as it is loaded with all the most popular, and even some obscure wager types on all of the biggest sports that Americans love to follow including football, international soccer, baseball, basketball and more.