Why Is Sports Betting Illegal?

For over 200 years, people around the world have been placing wagers on outcomes of sporting events. In fact, it’s possible that sports betting began when public sports games were invented. However, 2018 introduced some shockwaves in America’s sports betting world. Namely, the law did not allow this thrilling activity for many years. Only some states did not ban it.

In May of last year, the Supreme Court made a game-changing decision that had a significant impact on sports gambling legislation. However, a lot of people don’t know how 2018 laws affect sports betting. So why is sports betting illegal? Are things going to change after the Supreme Court’s decision?

Laws of Sports Betting: Timeline

To understand the current laws, we have to enter our time machine and travel way back to the era before the founding of the United States.

There are records of a race track from way back in 1665, meaning that sports betting could have begun even before the Revolutionary War. Some of the major sporting events that are out there today take their roots from events in the 12th century. People played similar games on other continents, and then they brought them to America.

Fast forward a little, and by the late 1800s, there was a boom in the horse racing industry. However, bookmakers became outlawed in the following century. The industry got so big in that time period that its prohibition nearly ruined the popularity of the sport.

Additionally, gambling was also prohibited on federal and state levels and in some cases, not only by law but by the constitutions. New York State is one example.

At the beginning of the 20th century, some state laws allowed pari-mutuel wagering, but the future did not look bright. Both gambling and betting had a terrible reputation in the eyes of the people and the law. During the prohibition, people thought these activities were harmful vices.

However, Nevada legalized gambling and sports wagering by the late 1950s, and it became a hotbed of all those activities in the U.S. After some illegal point-shaving scams all over the country in the late 1950s, Congress passed the ubiquitous Federal Wire Act in 1961. This federal law ensured that sports betting operations and gambling would not be possible in most of the U.S. states.

However, by the end of the 1970s, statistics showed that over 80% of people approved of betting and gambling activities. However, the sports betting law did not change. After a few decades, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was established. At the beginning of the 1990s, this law asked for states’ decision on sports betting. The states needed to decide if they wanted to allow sports betting in their borders.

Current Events

The law regarding the activities is very complicated, but in 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress overreached their regulatory power. The PASPA was overturned.

Thus, states were allowed to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to allow sports betting. Among some states that look the most promising for 2019 are Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Connecticut as they have already placed several laws and allowed some types of wagering.

Other states have introduced a new bill in order to legalize sports betting activities. On the other hand, some states have kept their strict stance and will still prohibit betting. Utah is among those states.

These are the states that allow at least some types of legal betting:

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

It’s possible that California and additional 20 states will allow betting by 2020. However, things get more complicated when you divide wagering into land-based and online activities. Then, the laws change.

So Where Can You Wager on Sports?

The list above shows some of the states that have already passed legislation regarding betting. Some of the states have allowed land-based sportsbooks and online sites to be established within their borders.

Sports Betting Legal

For example, New Jersey has around 8 online platforms, and there are many land-based sportsbooks that you can find in Atlantic City casinos and other resorts.

Some states like Mississippi have allowed online sports betting in resorts, but you are not allowed to use the platforms outside of the establishments. Furthermore, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have opened new land-based sportsbooks at the beginning of 2019. Rhode Island and New Mexico have also created new establishments following the 2018 changes in the law.

Another great way to wager legally from the U.S. is to do it online on offshore sites. If you choose a betting site which is based outside of the States, you will be able to play for real funds, and you will not have legal problems. Since the sites are based offshore, state and federal legislation does not apply to them. These sites offer sports betting as well as casino games, and you can find plenty of options there. If it’s still not allowed in your state, offshore sites are a great option since you can wager on NFL games, horse racing, the World Series, etc.

Closing Thoughts

The new laws are a beacon of hope since it’s possible that many states will allow sports betting. To check in detail whether your state allows betting or not, you will have to look into the law a bit more. We have shown you some of the ways to bet in some states as well as offshore. So check out the laws of your state and start betting! Have fun!

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