Legality Of Sports Betting – Complete Guide

*Disclaimer: We, at SBS, are not lawyers and we’re not qualified to provide you with legal advice. However, we do our best to understand the current US legislation when it comes to gambling. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice and it only represents our interpretations and opinions about the subject.

Legal Online Sports Betting In The United States

The legality of online sports betting has been in the news a lot for the past several years. Despite the Supreme Court striking down a law that prohibited states outside of Nevada, Delaware, and Montana from offering sports betting, those that have bet sports for a while know that there has never been much an of an issue if you’re looking to place a sports bet. The legal landscape has changed a lot with the High Court’s decision, but for the most part, gambling on sports has not.

Placing bets, as an individual, was legal in most states, and still is today. However, the good part for bettors in today’s world is more options. In our opinion, online betting sites are still ahead of the pack, and the legality of online sports betting has not changed under Federal law.

If bettors ask themselves, “Can I bet sports online legally?” the answer is always: yes. There are many options for sports gamblers, including offshore betting sites, local bookies, and the newly regulated state-licensed sportsbooks. It’s a fun time to be alive if you’re a sports bettor!

Where Can I Bet On Sports Online Legally?

Betting online if you’re inside the United States will not be an issue. It is not against Federal law to gamble on the internet or place bets on sporting events as an individual. Some states have laws against online gambling, but these are, literally, never enforced. If you’re placing bets as an individual and not acting as a bookie and accepting wagers, then you have nothing to worry about from a legal perspective.

Nevada Legal Sports Betting – (MORE ABOUT NEVADA BETTING LAW HERE)

Sports betting and Nevada, more specifically, Las Vegas, have been synonymous for decades. The state easily has the most land-based sportsbooks and regulated online betting apps. Before the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act – they were the only state that could offer full-scale sports betting. Las Vegas is a major tourist destination but for all things gambling, especially when it comes to for the Super Bowl and March Madness.

Pennsylvania Legal Sports Betting

Governor Tom Wolf signed broad legislation in 2017 that legalized online poker and casino gambling, daily fantasy, and sports betting. The Keystone State took their first bet in mid-November 2018, and sports betting is slowly expanding around the state. However, mobile sports betting has still not hit Pennsylvania. It is expected that mobile betting options will be available in Q2 2019 or later depending on regulations. PA is quite a large state will be a huge test to the profitability of state-licensed sportsbooks.

New Jersey Legal Sports Betting – (MORE ABOUT NEW JERSEY BETTING LAW HERE)

The Garden State’s path to legal sports betting is the reason that we have the explosion of state-regulated sportsbooks today. It was New Jersey that took their case to the Supreme Court and prevailed, despite losing every step of the way before that. New Jersey began accepting bets in June 2018, and over a dozen sportsbooks are operating in the state. Nearly all these sportsbooks also have mobile betting options. NJ, so far, has been a model example of regulated sports betting.

West Virginia Legal Sports Betting – (MORE ABOUT WV BETTING LAW HERE)

The Mountain State became the fifth state under the law to offer legalized sports betting. Hollywood Casino took the first bets in late August 2018. The state legislature passed a bill six months before authorizing the West Virginia Lottery Commission to serve as the chief regulator of sports betting in the state. WV has both land-based sportsbooks and online options.

Mississippi Legal Sports Betting

The Magnolia State enacted a law in 2017 that gave the state’s casinos the right to open sportsbooks. MGM Resorts took the state’s first sports bet on August 1, 2018. The Mississippi Gaming Commission implemented regulations for sports betting. The state does not yet have mobile online betting, and that is not on the horizon, just yet. Mobile wagering will be considered at a later date by the state legislature.

Delaware Legal Sports Betting

The First State always had sports betting lotteries but moved quickly to legalize single-game betting after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA. They began taking sports bets at three of the state’s casinos in June 2018. Though sports betting is fully legal at land-based facilities, such as racetracks and casinos, it is not yet available via online or through mobile apps.

New Mexico Legal Sports Betting

New Mexico has not passed any laws explicitly regulating sports betting, but they have already booked their first sports bet. The Nevada based, US Bookmaking, has worked out a partnership with the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel. The agreement is also via a gaming compact with the state. The first bet was taken at the casino hotel on Oct. 16, 2018. Right now, they are the only casino in the state taking bets. Mobile betting options or expanded sports betting are not on the table just yet, but they are expected to be in the coming months.

Rhode Island Legal Sports Betting

The country’s smallest state first opened their door for legal sports betting on Nov. 26, 2018. The move came five months after the governor signed a bill that allowed sports betting to be legalized and regulated. Sports betting is only allowed on a small scale in the tiny state. Currently, only two sportsbooks can be licensed under the law, and there are no plans for mobile betting options.

Federal Online Gambling Laws

Gambling laws as related to the Federal government is one subject that has been discussed and dissected by sports gamblers and legal experts alike. Due to the Supreme Court decision regarding sports betting, there is a lot more clarity to online gambling and sports betting laws in the United States, but there are still some unanswered questions as sports betting and other forms of regulated gambling expand across the country. There are a few key laws center around gambling and sports betting as it relates to legality in the US.

The Interstate Wire Act

Interstate Wire Act in sports bettingThe Wire Act was initially signed into law in 1961 by the president, John F. Kennedy. The Federal Wire Act, as it is also called, is a United States federal law that prohibits certain types of betting businesses in the country. The Wire Act was a law that was enacted to be a thorn in the side of organized crime.

At the time, sports betting was a major part of their business, and they were a focus of Federal prosecutors. However, these days things have changed the Wire Act opinion has been altered several times with the advent of the internet and online sports betting and gambling.

In September 2011, the US Department of Justice issued a formal legal opinion on the Act. The opinion stated that “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a ‘sporting event or contest’ fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.

This change in opinion is the primary reason why many states across the country began to regulate online casino gambling and online poker. Also, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Wire Act prohibition on the transmissions of wagers only applies to Sports Betting.

However, there was a change in the opinion of the Act under Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, in January 2019. It stated that the Federal Wire Act applied to all forms of gambling and not just sports betting. Though, this change doesn’t appear to affect sports betting much, as sports betting is regulated within state borders. However, online gambling expansion, such as online poker and casinos has been quelled a bit with this news.

The Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)

The Professional And Amateur Sports Protect Act (PASPA) is now history. The Federal law, also known as the Bradley Act, prohibited sports betting expansion outside of three states, Nevada, Montana, and Delaware. The law was overturned in May 2018 in the Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association case. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that PAPSA was unconstitutional and conflicted with the Tenth Amendment. Since the law was overturned, many states have moved to regulate sports betting within their borders.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is the newest of the three bills in this article. Its passage was directly related to the explosion of online gambling happening across the world. The UIGEA was attached to must-pass legislation, the Safe Port Act, in the early morning hours of Congress.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement ActThe UIGEA language “prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bit or wager that involves the use of the internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.” Contrary to popular belief, the UIGEA did not outlaw online gambling.

Instead, it reinforced the standing legal opinion that offshore sites accepting bets was illegal on under Federal law. The bill has a special caveat for fantasy sports, horse racing, and allows legal intrastate and intertribal gaming.

States Considering Regulating Sports Betting

Since the Supreme Court decision in mid-2018, there have been a lot of states that have opted to regulate sports betting within their borders. There are many other states are considering regulating sports betting within their borders. Online sports betting still exists in these regions and is provided by offshore sites and local bookies. There are a few states on the cusp of regulating sports betting within their borders.

where it's legal to bet in the US?

New York

The Garden State passed a law in 2013 that would allow sports betting at four on-site locations. This was tied to a possible change in federal law. Well, that changed happened, but they still have gotten across the finish line for regulated sports betting in the state. Legislation that would have allowed full-scale sports betting failed in 2018, but was reintroduced in 2019. However, there was no language in the budget to authorize sports betting. New York has a strong possibility of passing sports betting in the coming years, but mobile or online betting options are not expected to be offered at first passage.


Voters approved sports betting in Nov. 2018 that would bring expanded gambling to four counties in the Natural State. Although, the details have not yet been worked out yet for legalization. The sports leagues would apparently get 1% of the total amount wagered and could also prohibit wagers on certain bet types. The bill has not yet passed, but would allow mobile betting.


The Constitution State enacted a law to prepare for legal sports betting in 2017, but has yet to pass a bill regulating sports betting in the state. They introduced a bill in 2018 that went nowhere, but another was introduced in 2019. However, the outlook is strong that they will pass a bill authorizing sports betting before the end of the budget year in 2019.

The professional sports leagues, along with the NCAA, have changed their opinions on sports betting for decades now. They certainly do not offer the same views on the subject. Before the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, some supported regulating sports betting while others did not. Even with the legal landscape changing, not all are as gung-ho as the others for the proliferation of sports betting across the country.


NBA logoThe NBA has been supportive of sports betting for quite a while. The now-commissioner, Adam Silver, has always been vocal about his support for sports betting regulation. Once the legal landscape changed, the NBA was happy to embrace sports betting. They inked a deal with MGM Resorts International as the league’s “official gaming partner.”


NFL legal betting - NFL LogoThe most popular sport when it comes to sports wagering has always had never backed sports betting regulation. They have not embraced the idea like many of the other major sports leagues. However, they did a deal with Caesars as a casino sponsor. Still, we have not seen a major shift under Roger Goodell. Perhaps when the Raiders finally move to Las Vegas in the 2021 season, they will change their stance.


NHL legal betting - NHL logoThe National Hockey League is right in line with the NBA when it comes to betting sports. They were not as vocal for regulation as the NBA, but since then, they have gone all-in with sports betting. They also signed a deal with MGM in October. Gary Bettman fought along with the other leagues to keep PASPA in place but has now changed his tune.

PGA Tour

Betting on the PGA legally - PGA logoThe PGA Tour has not been as vocal about their support of legalized sports betting, but they now seem to recognize it as a major opportunity. In February, they relaxed their rules on gambling sponsors. They will now consider proposals from different gambling firms, casino companies, and daily fantasy sports entities.


legal MLB betting - MLB logoMLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, started getting ready for legalized sports betting in 2017 when the league examined their stance on the issue. After the SCOTUS decision, the league also changed its tune. In March 2019, he stated that “We see sports betting as great fan engagement.” The league also signed a deal with MGM as their official sports betting sponsor.


legal NCAA betting - NCAA logoThe National Collegiate Athletic Association is one entity that has not changed their stance on sports betting. They have steadfastly opposed sports betting, in all forms, since they came into existence. I would not expect the NCAA’s stance on sports betting to change, even if the entire country decided to regulate sports betting. They continue to put serious money into a campaign against sports betting, for which the slogan is, “Don’t bet on it.”

Daily Fantasy Sports Betting Law

DFS or daily fantasy sports is one industry that has exploded in recent years. As mentioned above, DFS was not apart of the UIGEA’s prohibitions against online gambling. Though some thought the law was meant to preserve season-long fantasy sports – DFS spawned from these leagues. In DFS, you’re still competing against other players, but the game is a more accelerated version.

Instead of drafting a team for an entire season, daily fantasy sports take place over a day or a week. Leagues are contests and prize pools can be quite large. DraftKings and FanDuel are the major players in the industry and they give away millions of dollars each week of the NFL season.

DraftKings logo- the Daily Fantasy Sports Betting LawDaily fantasy sports are legal in most states. DFS sites operate in a grey area in a few others. The only states where DFS is outlawed and no sites service players are Washington State, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, Iowa, and Alabama.

Is online sports betting legal in the US?

In a single word: Yes. The longer explanation is that it always has been from an individual level. The Department of Justice criminalizes sites that are not licensed to operate in the United States, not individual bettors. You have nothing to worry about if you’re placing sports bets online, whether the site is regulated in your state or is based offshore.

Even in states where online gambling is illegal, such as Washington State, no one has ever been charged with the crime. In fact, the state introduced a bill to regulated sports betting in early 2019, even with a law that outlaws all online gambling in the state. If you’re not acting as a bookie and accepting bets – then you have little to worry about from a legal perspective. It is not a federal crime to gamble at online sports betting sites.

Is online sports betting legal in Canada?

For the most part, yes. Canadian law does not explicitly state that single-game wagering is legal, but there are many online betting sites offering their services to Canadian citizens. They also have no problem placing bets and cashing out. In fact, you have access to more online sportsbooks in Canada, compared to the US.

Like the United States, each province has jurisdiction over its gambling laws. “Sports lotteries” are regulated in Canada, which amounts only being allowed to bet parlays. Canadians still bet a lot on sports and most is done through online betting sites. Gambling income is also not taxable under Canadian law.

Is sports betting legal in Europe?

Yes, and has been for fifty years or more years in some countries. The concept of a local bookie or neighborhood bookie is a thing of the distant past in Europe. Each country has its own licensing rules, but almost all have regulated and legalized gambling in some form. Depositing at online betting sites is a simple and easy process and there are tons of deposit and withdrawal options for European residents.

Is it legal to play on MyBookie?

Yes, gambling online or placing an online sports bet as an individual is not a federal crime. It is perfectly legal to bet sports online at or at any other betting sites. Bettors should not worry about getting into trouble with the law when placing bets online. The only concern is paying taxes on your winnings.

Are mobile apps legal for sports betting?

Yes, mobile betting is legal. It may not be offered by state-regulated sportsbooks in all areas, but offshore betting sites have been offering mobile betting for decades. It is not a new concept, but mobile betting apps and websites are now more advanced than ever before. Online betting sites have mobile betting options. No matter where you’re located in the United States, there will be a mobile betting site or app available.

What’re the risks of sports betting at unlicensed sites?

Well, there is no much you can do from a legal perspective if you are not being paid. However, there are several sites that track offshore sportsbooks, rate them, and warn sports gamblers of bad actors. Most betting sites have paid customers promptly for their entire history. Some have been doing for 20 years or longer. Our job at SBS is to point players to the best online betting sites.

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