The United States has a complex relationship with gambling and sports betting in particular. The laws vary from state to state, and in some cases, the federal government has a say as well. So, which states allow sports betting? Here’s a quick rundown.
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Federal Gambling Laws
Sports betting is currently only allowed in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. However, many states are currently considering legalizing sports betting. Federal gambling laws prohibit sports betting in most states. The federal government has mostly left the regulation of gambling up to the states.
The Federal Wire Act
The Federal Wire Act of 1961 was the first federal law that addressed gambling offenses. It criminalized interstate wagering on sports, specifically targeting bookies. The law did not, however, target individual bettors. That would come later.
The Federal Wire Act was successful in its intended purpose of shutting down the bookmaking operations that it targeted. But it also had the unintended consequence of driving sports betting underground. Bettors were no longer able to place their bets with legitimate businesses, so they turned to illegal bookies.
The other major federal gambling law is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). This law effectively banned sports betting in all but four states (Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware). It also prohibited new states from legalizing sports betting.
PASPA was challenged in court and ultimately overturned by the US Supreme Court in 2018. This paved the way for individual states to legalize and regulate sports betting within their own borders.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act
In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was enacted, which made it unlawful for a governmental entity to authorize, sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or sanction a wagering pool or lottery based on professional or amateur sports. PASPA also included a grandfather clause that exempted four states from the Act’s prohibitions: Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana. However, PASPA did not preempt state law. It only prohibited states from enacting new laws authorizing sports gambling.
The federal government does not have any laws that prohibit individuals from placing bets on sports games. Rather, the relevant federal laws focus on preventing businesses from operating sports gambling businesses. The two main federal laws that apply to sports gambling are the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA).
PASPA makes it unlawful for a governmental entity to authorize, sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or sanction a wagering pool or lottery based on professional or amateur sports. PASPA also includes a grandfather clause that exempts four states from the Act’s prohibitions: Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana. However, PASPA did not preempt state law. It only prohibited states from enacting new laws authorizing sports gambling.
The IGBA makes it unlawful for any person to operate an illegal gambling business. An illegal gambling business is defined as a gambling business that is (1) conducted in violation of state law; (2) consists of five or more persons who are engaged in the business of betting or wagering; and (3) has been in continuous operation for more than 30 days or has grossed more than $2,000 in any single day. The IGBA does not specifically mention sports gambling businesses; however courts have held that sports gambling businesses can fall under the IGBA’s definition of an illegal gambling business.
State Gambling Laws
Gambling laws in the United States are determined by individual state legislatures. Federal gambling laws do exist, but they only apply to a narrow range of activities. As a result, most aspects of gambling are regulated at the state level. This includes sports betting, which is only allowed in certain states. In this article, we’ll take a look at which states allow sports betting and what their laws are.
The gaming industry in Nevada is defined by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (“NGCB”) and the Nevada Gaming Commission. The NGCB is responsible for regulating the gaming industry in Nevada, while the Nevada Gaming Commission is responsible for licensing gaming operators.
Nevada was the first state to legalize casino gaming, and it has been home to some of the most famous casinos in the world, including the MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, and Bellagio. In recent years, Las Vegas has become known not only as a gambling destination, but also as a popular tourist destination, with attractions such as The Strip, Fremont Street Experience, and Red Rock Canyon.
In addition to casino gaming, Nevada also offers sports betting and horse racing betting. Sports betting was legalized in Nevada in 1949, and it is currently regulated by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Horse racing betting was legalized in 1931, and it is currently regulated by the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA), a federal law that had prohibited sports betting in all but a handful of states since 1992. This decision has paved the way for states to pass their own laws and regulations governing sports betting, and many have already done so.
New Jersey was one of the first states to take advantage of the new opportunities afforded by the PAPSA ruling. In June 2018, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that authorized sports betting at casinos, racetracks, and online. Sports betting officially launched in New Jersey on June 14, 2018, with several operators taking bets.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) is responsible for regulating all forms of gambling in the state, including sports betting. The DGE has put together a comprehensive set of regulations for sports betting that covers everything from licensing requirements to age limits to advertising restrictions.
Delaware lawmakers approved a bill in June 2018 to legalize sports betting, joining Nevada as the only two states with single-game wagering. The law allows sports betting on professional and college sports, but excludes sports betting on any Delaware high school or youth sporting event. The law also sets a minimum age of 21 for all sports bettors.
The law authorizes the state lottery to offer sports betting at its existing casinos in Dover and Wilmington, as well as through a mobile app. Sports betting will be taxed at 8.5% of gross gaming revenue, with 60% of tax revenue going to the state general fund and 40% going to a fund for problem gambling prevention and treatment programs.
In Pennsylvania, gambling is legal and highly regulated. The state offers both live and online gambling options, including casinos, horse racing, lotteries, and sports betting.
Pennsylvania is one of a handful of US states that offer legal sports betting. Sports betting was first legalized in the state in May 2018, and the first sportsbooks began operating in November of that year. Currently, there are nine retail sportsbooks and three online/mobile sports betting apps available to bettors in Pennsylvania.
The minimum age for gambling in Pennsylvania is 21.
In Rhode Island, gambling is regulated by the Rhode Island Lottery Commission. The commission regulates all aspects of gambling in the state, including sports betting.
Sports betting was legalized in Rhode Island in 2018, and the first sportsbook opened in November of that year. Sports betting is only available at the state’s two casinos, Twin River Casino and Tiverton Casino. Online and mobile sports betting is not currently available in Rhode Island.
The minimum age for gambling in Rhode Island is 18, and this includes both casino gambling and sports betting.
In summary, as of May 2019, sports betting is legal in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and West Virginia.
In addition, Delaware and Mississippi have legal sports betting but are not yet operational. Maryland and North Carolina have passed legislation that will allow sports betting in the future.
The states of Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota Missouri Nebraska, New York Ohio Oklahoma South Carolina and Virginia are considering legislation to allow sports betting.