Most Americans bet on sports through illegal bookies, but this guide will show you where is sports betting legal in the United States in 2021.
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Federal Sports Betting Laws
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was a federal law that prohibited sports betting in all but four states: Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. In 2018, the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA, giving states the authority to legalize and regulate sports betting.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was a federal law that was passed in 1992 which effectively made it illegal for any state to authorize or operate a sports betting operation. Prior to PASPA, sports betting was only legal in four states – Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware.
PASPA was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2018, opening the door for states to legalize and regulate sports betting. Since then, more than a dozen states have done just that. Currently, sports betting is legal in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and West Virginia. There are also several states that have legalized sports betting but have not yet started offering it (Arkansas, Delaware, Maine and North Carolina).
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)
In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The UIGEA’s main focus was not on sports betting, but rather on curtailing payment processors from handling payments to and from online gambling sites.
The UIGEA did not make online gambling illegal, but it did make it more difficult for banks and other payment processors to process payments to and from gambling sites. As a result, many gambling sites stopped accepting US players.
The UIGEA had a significant impact on the online gambling industry, but it did not make online gambling illegal in the US. There are still many gambling sites that accept US players, and there are also many federal and state laws that allow for some forms of online gambling.
State Sports Betting Laws
It’s complicated when discussing sports betting and the law in the United States. There are federal laws and then there are state laws. The federal laws are pretty straightforward: sports betting is illegal. It’s been that way since 1992 with the passing of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
In 1949, Nevada became the first state to legalize sports betting. The state has a long history with gambling, dating back to the early 20th century, when legal gambling operations first began in Reno and Las Vegas.
Sports betting is legal in Nevada at both land-based casinos and online. There are more than 200 sportsbooks in operation in the state, including those operated by major casino brands like Caesars, MGM, and Wynn. Sports betting is also available at the state’s racetracks and through the sports betting app, William Hill.
Nevada is the only state with legal online sports betting. Bettors must be 21 years or older and physically located within the state to place a bet.
In 2012, New Jersey started the process to legalize sports betting in the state. The professional sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL) and the NCAA filed lawsuits to stop New Jersey from allowing sports betting. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in 2018 that states could legalize sports betting if they desired.
In June 2018, New Jersey allowed sports betting at casinos and racetracks. Mobile/online sports betting is also legal in New Jersey.
State law in Pennsylvania allows sports betting at physical locations such as casinos, racetracks, and off-track betting facilities, as well as online and mobile devices. Bettors must be 21 years of age or older to participate.
The state’s Gaming Control Board oversees all sports betting in Pennsylvania. The Board is responsible for setting regulations and issuing licenses to operators. taxed at 34% on gross gaming revenue.
Pennsylvania is one of several states that have legalized sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban in 2018.
In November 2018, Rhode Island voters approved a ballot measure to allow sports betting at the state’s two casinos, Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Tiverton Casino Hotel. The law went into effect in 2019, and sports betting officially launched at Twin River on November 26.
The Rhode Island Lottery oversees sports betting in the state and has contracted with IGT to provide technology and services. Sports betting is available online and at both of the state’s casinos. Mobile betting is not currently available, but it is expected to launch in the near future.
Betting is currently only available on professional and collegiate sports, but there are plans to eventually expand to other events like the Olympics.
Residents of West Virginia became able to bet on sports starting in August of 2018, when the state passed a bill that would allow for both mobile and in-person sports betting. The State Lottery Commission was given the responsibility of regulating sports betting, with both retail and mobile options available to bettors. There are currently nine licensed casinos in the state where people can place bets. Online and mobile betting is also allowed, with residents able to bet on a variety of sports including football, basketball, baseball, and more.
Federal vs. State Sports Betting Laws
In 2021, sports betting is legal in some capacity in nearly every state. However, the laws surrounding sports betting vary greatly from state to state. In some states, sports betting is only legal at casinos, while in others you can bet online or in person. Let’s take a look at the different laws in each state.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was a federal law that was enacted in 1992. The law effectively banned sports betting in all states except for Nevada. The state of New Jersey challenged PASPA in court, and in 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional. This paved the way for states to legalize and regulate sports betting.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is a federal law passed in 2006 that makes it illegal for banks and other financial institutions to process online gambling transactions. The UIGEA does not make online gambling illegal, but it does make it more difficult for consumers to gamble online by making it harder for them to deposit and withdraw funds from their online gambling accounts.
The UIGEA has had a chilling effect on the online gambling industry, causing many major online gambling companies to pull out of the US market. The law has also made it more difficult for US residents to gamble online, as they now have to use alternative methods such as e-wallets or prepaid cards to deposit and withdraw funds from their accounts.
The UIGEA has been a controversial law since it was passed, and its enforcement has been delayed several times. In 2011, the Department of Justice issued a memo clarifying that the UIGEA did not prohibit consumers from gambling online, but only prohibited financial institutions from processing transactions related to online gambling. This clarification led to a resurgence in the US online gambling market, as many companies that had pulled out of the US market due to the UIGEA began to re-enter the market.
Despite this clarification, the US Congress has still not passed any legislation specifically legalizing or regulating online gambling. As such, online gambling remains in a legal grey area in the US, with no clear laws or regulations governing the industry. This lack of clarity has led to a patchwork of state laws governing online gambling, with some states (such as Nevada and New Jersey) legalizing and regulating online gambling, while others (such as Washington) maintaining strict bans on all forms of online gambling.
Sports Betting in the United States in 2021
In 2021, only five states allow sports betting: Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa, with Montana and Tennessee set to launch in 2021. Sports betting is illegal in the rest of the states. This page covers the status of sports betting in each US state.
The three main federal laws that apply to sports betting in the United States are the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the Federal Wire Act.
PASPA, which was passed in 1992, effectively banned sports betting nationwide with a few exceptions. Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon were exempt from the ban, as they had already established sports betting industries. New Jersey unsuccessfully challenged PASPA in court, but the law was finally overturned in 2018 by the Supreme Court. This paved the way for states to legalize and regulate sports betting as they see fit.
The UIGEA, passed in 2006, prohibits businesses from knowingly accepting payments related to illegal online gambling. This law does not specifically target online sports betting, but it has had a significant impact on the industry by making it more difficult for bettors to deposit and withdraw funds from online betting sites.
The Federal Wire Act, passed in 1961, prohibits the use of wire communications for gambling purposes. This law was originally intended to crack down on organized crime, but it has been interpreted by some as applying to all forms of online gambling.
In the United States, the professional and amateur sports betting market is estimated to be worth up to $150 billion annually.1 Despite its size, sports betting has been mostly illegal in the US since the early 1900s. In 1992, the federal government passed a law that significantly restricted sports betting nationwide. Prior to this law, Nevada was the only state where sports betting was legal.
In 2018, a case brought by the state of New Jersey challenged the federal ban on sports betting. The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey, effectively striking down the federal ban and paving the way for states to legalize and regulate sports betting.
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, more than 20 states have legalized and are regulating sports betting. These states are:
-District of Columbia
Montana and Virginia have also legalized sports betting, but have not yet launched their programs. Many other states are currently considering legalization bills. It is expected that even more states will legalize and regulate sports betting in the coming years.